A disturbing video appears to show that two LA gangsters are now mercenaries fighting on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad. Calling themselves “Wino” and “Creeper,” the two gang members take potshots with AK47s at putative Syrian rebel positions, show off various tattoos and end each statement with “homie.” They give shout outs to a number of gangs and musical performers, including Lady Pink.
“Let me represent myself, homie,” one of men says. “It’s Creeper from the g’d up 13 gang, homie.” One of the pair explains to start the two minute video. It could be a clever fake or work of regime propaganda. Yet, one of the men’s Facebook page makes clear he is Armenian from Aleppo (many Armenians are loyal to the regime out of fear of some of the more extremist factions). A picture on his Facebook shows him dressed in an army uniform and hanging out with Hezbollah.
The Armenian Power to which he claims allegiance is different from many Los Angeles street gangs with international ties. The gang has been responsible for nearly 300 murders. Meanwhile the Surenos have ties to the Mexican mafia and has been associated with drug trafficking, violence, prostitution, and beating women. Normally, in the states, gang members such as “Wino” and “Creeper” would be likely rivals, as gang fights often fall along ethnic lines. Syria makes unlikely bedfellows, though. There is a possibility both men are originally Syrian nationals who were deported to Syria for their involvement in criminal activity in the United States. Such is surprisingly common law-enforcement practice.
While Americans have fought for rebels, the pair would be the first known to fight for the regime. Yet, the video is consistent with reports that the Assad regime is increasingly drawing on mercenaries, ranging from far-right groups in Greece linked to the Neo-Nazi Gold Dawn, to other European backers (such as the formation of a “Slavic Corp” or platoon of regime supporters).
If authentic, the video is a further example of how desperate the regime is desperate for manpower and it is willing to employ criminal gang members from the streets of Los Angeles in the Syrian conflict. Just three years ago the Syrian regime followed and monitored every American who entered Syria. Americans who are participating would likely be arrested on terrorism related charges if they were to return to the United States.
Follow Joseph Hammond on Twitter. Image of heavy fighting in Syria courtesy of Big Stock Photo.