Jamil Adnahli

Produced by: Sharq.Org
Part of the Curated Collection: Syrian Histories,
Original Interview Length:
Interview Location: Turkey
Production Team:
Available Collateral:

"I was taken to hospital after being hit by a shrapnel from an artillery shell. Paradoxically, the two medical doctors working with the Palestine Liberation Organization were Jewish."

Jamil had been politically active since he was in high school and he contributed to the establishment of a political oppositional movement. At one point during his studies at the Faculty of Civil Engineering in Aleppo, he was forced to hide away from the security services for two years. He then traveled to Lebanon and worked in the ranks of the Palestinian Resistance with the Democratic Front and others.

Jamil says, "In 1980, I managed to reach Lebanon after coordination was set up between the organization I used to belong to in Syria, and the Palestinian Resistance factions in Lebanon. Because of my engineering experience, I worked at the central construction district of the Palestine Liberation Organization where I oversaw high-quality tunnel construction. The Israelis even showed pictures of those tunnels after the invasion, commenting on the quality of their construction. I also worked on the construction of gas backup stations, in addition to fortifications, tanks, warehouses and so on."

Jamil spent most of his time in the workplace and would even sleep there sometimes. Most of his personal relations in Lebanon were restricted to people who belonged to the Resistance or who were part of the revolutionary organizational framework, regardless of their nationality. Young Palestinians had been the main strata of guerrilla action in Lebanon and were often uneducated fighters. In addition, there was also a large proportion of young Syrians and Yemenis. In more recent times, significant numbers would come from Bangladesh too, most of whom would join the Fatah movement.

"Most of the Syrian youth, despite their young age, came with personal motivation, knowledge and acceptance from their parents in recognition and respect for the Palestinian guerrilla actions against the occupation," Jamil says. "Many of them would visit their cities and towns in Syria when they were on leave and then return to resistance camps."

At that time, a large group of factions and Palestinian parties that worked in Lebanon was present, such as Fatah, Popular Front, Democratic Front, Liberation Front and others.

"Musa al-Sadr founded the movement of the dispossessed and then formed its military wing, the Lebanese resistance groups named Amal. This was done with the support of Yasser Arafat and the Fatah movement in terms of expertise transfer, organizational matters, training and so on." After a period of two years, Hezbollah started to form in the Baalbek area of Beqaa, where it was founded according to an Iranian decision and not a Lebanese one. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards began to arrive in large numbers to camps in the towns of Nabi Shit and others. Later, large sums of money were spent in order to clean up Hezbollah’s public image and expand the circle of staff and public supporters.”

During his work in the Resistance, Jamil founded three training camps. Resistance fighters came from the occupied territories or from various Lebanese areas to receive training there, and then went on to launch suicide operations in the occupied land.

Later a shell that fell near him wounded Jamil. He was taken to a PLO hospital and then was transferred to a private hospital, where he continued his treatment.

He says, "The PLO owned three hospitals in Beirut. In addition, they had the possibility of sending the patients and wounded to private Lebanese hospitals, all costs paid. The organization did not suffer from lack of finances because of the support it had from Gulf countries, Iraq, Libya and others.

"On one occasion, I was taken to the hospital after being hit by a shrapnel. The doctors who were following me were Jewish - one Greek Jew and another Lebanese, both working with the PLO and who opposed Israeli policies toward the Palestinians."

In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon. Jamil was, at that time, in the Bekaa region while some of his comrades were in Beirut. They were interrogated and later left for Tunisia, Algeria etc. However, he continued to build warehouses and receive new missions until he was arrested in 1985 by the Syrian security services active in Lebanon on account of his oppositional political affiliation. After about 20 days of detetion, he was deported to Syria.

"We were detained in the investigation branch in Syria for about two months. Then we were transferred to the military prison of Mazzeh, where I stayed for three years," Jamil said. "I was later transferred to Sednaya prison, where I spent about 11 years."

Jamil was released from prison after nearly 14 years. He says, "I left the military security branch in the customs area in Damascus. Streets were crowded with people and cars. I felt that the prison was just a dream that ended at that moment. I went by taxi to the Saruja neighborhood. I had a haircut, fixed my things then went on to my sister’s house, having completely forgotten that I was a prisoner who had been released only few hours previously. "

Jamil returned to his parents' house in the city of Homs, where he stayed for some time before moving to Damascus to re-start his life. He encountered some difficulties related to the issuance of a new civil identity and his civil rights. He says, "I forgot prison life, its social relations and memories. I cast all that aside the moment I left the security branch. I'm not the kind of person who feels connected to a place. My life is just lived in the moment."