Syrian Supporters Distributing Firearm Training Videos on YouTube

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One or more supporters of the Free Syrian Army are creating high definition Arabic language gun training videos and putting them on YouTube. They are intended to help train rebel recruits in maintaining firearms such as the FN FAL, which has been imported by the Syrian rebels.

The FN FAL rifle pictured above appears to be made, at least in part, from a Brazilian IMDEL parts kit. It appears to be equipped with a DSA Arms Extreme Duty Scope Mount which is manufactured in the USA.

The video producer has access to a diverse collection of well maintained and accessorized firearms. There are only a few countries in the world where you would expect to see a Kel-Tec pistol, Sig 9mm, Glock Gen4, Workforce wrench and a S&W M&P AR-15 rifle in the same place. This was almost certainly filmed in the USA or Canada (my money is on the former).

The videos are an interesting use of New Media to support a rebellion. Distributing training material to a rebel army a few years ago would require significant resources. Now all someone needs to do it hit Upload.

Is it legal for a US citizen to provide assistance to a foreign army or rebel group? I am unsure. Free speech, in practice, frequently ends at the border. It is perfectly legal to produce a firearm instructional video and upload it to Youtube for consumption inside the USA, but professional training video producers such as Magpul claim that their training videos are regulated by ITAR and require State Department permission to export outside the USA.

It would defiantly not be legal to produce an identical video but in such a way that it is aimed at any group classified as a terrorist organization. Doing so would be a federal crime that has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Can any Arabic speakers please tell us in the comments how factually accurate the video narration is. Thanks.

[ Many thanks to Damien Spleeters for finding these videos and identifying the FN FAL. ]




Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Gabriel Viani Couto

    It’s IMBEL, Industria de Material Bélico do Brasil (Military Material Industries of Brazil, in a free translation). You can find more information about it here: http://www.imbel.gov.br/index.php?lang=en

  • Alexander_Degtyarev

    Well, someone get to translating. Youtube doies support subtitles, after all.

    Rebels gonna rebel, might as well get something out of it ourselves. You don’t stop this anyway, so give up on trying.

  • junyo

    You know what? If they want to help dickpunch a dictator that’s murdering his own people, good for them.

  • KM

    The rebels are using Kel Tecs? They must have run out of rocks :P

    • Anonymoose

      It’s more concealable and packs a better punch than that SIG Mosquito at least…

  • mp

    defiantly derp

  • gunslinger

    IAMAL…but…

    i would think it is “legal” so long as it isn’t “marketed” to outside the US. granted, the law usually puts the responsibility on the “creator” to make sure it complies with all laws. and if it just so happened that someone saw that shouldn’t have… well whose fault is that?

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Thats what I mean’t, but in this case its clearly being marketed to the Free Syrian Army (or so I gather from the flags, watermark etc.)

      Just to be clear, the Free Syrian Army is not a banned or sanctioned group.

      • Anonymous

        There were some British citizens leaving to help the Free Syrian Army (FSA) but all of them are on the MI-5 watchlist. There is nothing against the FSA now but it has been confirmed that they have links to Al-Qaeda and nobody in US would want to be found helping the same organization responsible for 9/11.

    • Ryan

      As far as ITAR is concerned, marketing doesn’t matter. If you move controlled information from the US to a foreign person or country without permission then they can throw you in jail. Also if you use unencrypted email to send some ITAR restricted data to a friend within the US it is still a violation because the servers are open and could in fact be in an other country or the ISP could employ a person with a work visa. ITAR is serious.

      • gunslinger

        @Ryan
        i haven’t watched (nor could i understand) the videos. but if they are just “how to clean and maintain” a weapon, how would ITAR apply? is cleaning and maintaining “critical” information?

        now if it were like the magpul videos where they go over tactics and such, then sure i can see how that might be controlled information.

        but mechanical care for an item? but as i said, not a lawyer, nor can i look up from the DoD about what info is covered under ITAR

      • Rob

        This seems to be covered by ITAR under “Technical Data”.
        Reference Section 120.10(a)(1), which states:
        “Technical Data means, for the purposes of this subchapter:
        (1) Information, other than software as defined in § 120.10(d), which is required for the design development, production, manufacture, assembly, operation, repair, testing, maintenance or modification of defense articles. This includes information in the form of blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, instructions and documentation.”

        It certainly seems he has exported such “technical data” under Section 120.17(a)(4), which states:
        “Export means:
        (4) Disclosing (including oral or visual disclosure) or transferring technical data to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad”

        Pretty sure this guy falls under the registration requirements of Sec. 122.1(a) and not any of the exemptions provided for in 122.1(b). That would mean he is also subject to Sec. 123 licensing requirements.

  • fred

    Rebels?
    How about a cia op?
    Come on.

  • TangledThorns

    That was a well done video. These guys had help, most likely from CIA.

    • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

      Century International Arms? Unlikely…those guns appear to work.

      • Nadnerbus

        You need a drummer to follow you around to provide the rim-shots. Thumbs up.

      • Tom

        Lol, that would be even more funny if the AK wasn’t a Century made WASR 10/63.

  • Komrad

    It’s probably a legal grey area. I don’t think the Syrian rebels are currently classified as terrorists, but ITAR probably doesn’t distinguish. There are other laws that could come into play. I’m sure the USA PATRIOT Act and National Defense Authorization Act would have some application as well.
    However, I doubt this will ever go to court. It would probably be very hard for the prosecution to win such a case.

    • So?

      How can these guys be terrorists? They don’t kill Americans.

  • Vitor

    As if youtube didn’t have a bazillion videos showing how to disassemble and maintain firearms.

    Oh, wait, those were mostly in english, the language of freedom and good guys. Now in arab everything becomes…eviler.

    • Nadnerbus

      Pretty soon they will have Arabic videos on how to maintain and fire the “Laser.” From some sort of underground lair or moon base no doubt.

  • Raoul O’Shaugnessy

    “It would defiantly not be legal to produce an identical video”

    No, but it would be definitely a defiant act……….perhaps even defiantly definite.

  • W

    Thats really interesting. Welcome to the information age.

  • Lance

    The AK in the picture is a WSAR 10 are you sure this video wasn’t made by a Syrian sympathizer in the US and posted online to train rebels?

  • Jeff

    If it is just a training video in Arabic, there’s no violation of law. Even if they are truly fomenting rebellion, it’s protected free speech unless there is an “imminent” threat of harm. I can’t imagine a scenario in which a training video would create an imminent threat of harm. We may not like it, but this is part of living in a free country. I’d rather suffer under a system that allows too much freedom than one that provides too little freedom.

    • Mike

      No, it’s actually against Federal law to give training to foreign citizens. I can’t call up the part of the law at the moment, but feel free to Google it.

  • dylan

    my money is on these video’s coming out of turkey, eastern europe or the united states. i highly doubt the came out of canada given that assembling such an array of prohibited weapons is generally a rare event. usually when they do surface they are in very very bad condition (like most other criminals weapons) so im guessing these weapons are from one or more private collections given there condition. also take note that when the speaker says ar-15 or m16 he says it with little to no accent.

    • PeterParker

      They are from the US, not Europe. I—as a European—can tell by the doors, walls, window frame, as well as environment. We don’t have that, in that combination at least, in Europe.

  • Peter Ball

    Definitively made in the US. That 1911 in the upper right is a Ruger and given the low-production, high-demand, of the SR1911 I don’t think that they have many of them outside of the US.

    Lost of “Al’s Snack Bar” to the Syrian guerrillas,

    Pete

    • Metalhead2508

      I think he is just using the Ruger 1911 to show a 1911 platform, not how to operate the Ruger 1911 specifically.

    • Metalhead2508

      Disregard my comment. I’m stupid, and didn’t fully comprehend your comment, before commenting. Sorry.

  • J.J

    My Father is Moroccan and has always been hesitant around firearms. I don’t speak Arabic and English is my fathers third language, behind French and obviously Arabic, so I really think that these videos, especially the one that teaches how to use a scoped rifle, will be a great way for him to finally become confident with a gun.

  • John Doe

    Well, they’re trying to take down a dictator, so why are we complaining?

    • Rob

      They’re not only training the Syrian Rebels, they are inadvertently training anyone who speaks Arabic. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a large percentage of “terrorists” happen to speak Arabic.

  • mark

    This is an Egyptian production, said the Egyptian dialect。

    • luv.htlr

      Eh where did you recieve your edcation? U.S, i guess so. Maybe you are not aware that they have lots of educated people who speak many languages so all youtube of firearms or war related can benifit trouble makers in all nations

  • bob

    The guns are U.S. based, as those firearms are specifically tailored towards U.S. civilian consumption as other posters have pointed out, heck I own a couple of the guns he reviews. I think ITAR would start to apply to this individual if he crossed the line into giving tactical instruction in small unit tactics, guerrilla warfare etc.

  • EC

    Long time reader, first time poster. Just wanted to mention this post was referenced by Wired’s Danger Room blog. Keep up the great writing.

  • http://www.shootersnorthwest.com/forumdisplay.php?f=2 Rodger Young

    Ah, another DLA grad going forth and doing good in the world. ;-)

  • noob

    Adam Roberts wrote a novel called “New Model Army” which is pretty much about an militia/armed mob trained by Youtube and organised like a flashmob that completely blitzes traditional armies because they have to deal with rules and regulations and standardization and force protection and stuff.

    http://www.amazon.com/New-Model-Army-Adam-Roberts/dp/0575083611

    Adam Roberts is quite obviously a new media guy and not a soldier… which is why I’m kinda intrigued to see this leaking out into the real world…

  • Kosme

    Here is a video with a SVD/Tiger … How common are those in the US ?? I’m surprised by the amount of rifles/pistols this “guy/guys” has. You even canse his face.

    • Kosme
      • TB

        The Arabic below the video says that it has been translated from the original English version.
        Meaning that someone grabbed it from another video, already available elsewhere.
        So of course he is showing his face, as the video was not made for the current usage.

        See below for the translation, which may be a little off.

        “This video interpreted from the English version, of course, we delete some sections and added some useful comments.
        The video explains the sections of the weapon and how to use, Installation and use of the scope also includes fire control group with important notes which must be observed during the video”

      • Tomaso

        Its more likly the narrative states…”translated from English ” as disinformation to protect the originator.

    • Kosme

      *can see :P

    • ragnarok220

      This video was originally done by a New Zealand guy. In the originally video,
      he was reviewing his Tiger.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DbNyBsCvCk

      The FSA should ask his permission first before they re-use his video.

  • DaveTheGreat

    At the beginning of the video where he is introducing the guns, you can clearly hear a strong North American accent when he uses the names “Browning” and “Glock” and so on. Not a complete match, accent-wise, but a strong one. Sounds like a guy who moved here when he was a kid and only has a slight accent.

    As for his Arabic, I can say he does not sound like a Bedouin or an urban Egyptian (I spent six months in the Sinai when I was in the MFO. I had the only military truck driving license in my squad, so I got to spend a lot of time outside the wire and thus hearing the locals speak). That doesn’t rule out much of the Arabic-speaking world, but it does rule out one of the largest television-producing nations in the Arabic-speaking world. If a picture and sound that clear came from an Arabic nation, it would most likely come from Egypt.

    So a North American pronunciation of a half-dozen words, production quality you would be unlikely to find in any Arabic nation but Egypt, and a narrator who is unlikely to be Egyptian. It’s not a sure thing, but all this does support your conclusion that the video originated in the USA or Canada.

    As for legality, is any of that information actually restricted? He shows very basic loading and unloading and assembly of common guns, many of which are actually foreign in origin. It’s one thing for the marketing people at a company saying their training videos are super-important and a matter of national security (it sounds badass). It’s quite a different matter for them to actually be restricted.

    And while Syrian people aren’t exactly fans of us, it’s worth noting that the rebels this video are aimed at are not considered our enemies. In fact, the people who ARE considered our enemies are the people the rebels are shooting at. A lawyer would have a tough time arguing that the producer of this video is committing a crime against the USA when his efforts are in line with US foreign policy.

  • D

    Seems like it’s an arbitrary distinction who the videos are aimed at (no pun intended). A training video’s a training video, be it done for just anyone or for some rebels somewhere.

    I guess what i’m saying is, putting a label that says “this is for the XYZ rebellion” on a training video should not make it inherently more evil or controversial then any other of it’s type.

    • Rob

      While the label of a video may be a factor in determining the legality of such a video, the intent is far more important. He could have labelled them “Story Time with Barney” and that wouldn’t have made it anymore legal.

      Moreover, ITAR definitely distinguishes who the dissemination of information is to. To have exported something, one only has to disclose it to a foreigner to the US. See my response to gunslinger down below.

  • luv.htlr

    This video has NOTHING to do with Canada, you cannot own most of those weapons, its most likely U.S, where mentally ill can get conceal carry permit and go on shooting rampage in tim hortons or was it startbucks. So please remove any refernce to Canada in this article

    • TB

      Yes, because this kind of thing never happens in your “great, wonderfu,l crime free country”, where firearms are regulated so much to where only criminals can get them.

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/07/16/toronto-scarborough-shooting.html

    • dylan

      obviously you dont understand canadian firearms laws. we can and some of us do infact do own ak platforms and fal varients. these firearms are under the prohib class therefor they just require a special licence. it is just a rare occurance to see these firearms in canada so many assume that we cant own them. please stop making canadians look like such hoplophobes. some of us are proud black rifle and handgun owners.

      • luv.htlr

        You can only get prohibited licence to own those weapons, if you had those weapons before the government made them prohibited, you cannot buy a handgun with nore 10 round mag capacity and only 5 round capacity for self loading rifles. I am totally law abiding, yet there is no way I can get prohibited class weapons

  • Gary

    Restricted videos? Are you kidding? The government can’t restrict information. Anything and everything is available for download off the internet, free for the taking (stealing) if you know where to look. That includes all the Magpul videos. I am not advocating doing it, just saying that this stuff is out there.

  • TB

    It would be nice if you guys could do your homework once before writing an inflamtory article accusing the US of sponsoring Syrian rebels.
    If you could learn to do your due diligence before writing, you could avoid creating an international incident or accusing people of supporting terrorist groups.

    The people in the videos produced them in English for US consumption.
    The videos were illegally copied for use by the group that posted them.
    The people who posted these videos translated as best they could from the original English.

    Of course they were made in the US. You can clearly see that That is a Century WASR 10/63 build, and a Smith and Wesson M&P15.

    The person in the original video, likely NutNFancy or someone else was showing the differences between an AR and AK, in the age old debate that has been raging on forever in the US.
    If I had the time, I would find you the original, which is certainly still on Youtube, but that is not my job, it is your.

    • Ben

      By comparing his speech and his gestures it is evident this is the original video. Furthermore if they superposed an Arabic narrator on this video you wouldn’t hear the gun clicking so clearly.

      Therefore your entire point is invalid.

  • mark

  • nikonmikon

    “Brazilian IMDEL parts kit.”

    Seriously? It’s IMBEL

    “equipped with a DSA Arms Extreme Duty Scope Mount ”

    The A in DSA IS arms…

  • dave

    Legality, not a problem. If I can fly there and look at it, its ok.
    Treat it like porn on the web, the website is accessed, not posted out.
    The website is located in a country where laws are not broken.
    I would think a training video on anything is actually a safety upload, as owners of equipment are safer if advised correctly.

  • Nicks87

    What’s wrong?

    The training that the CIA and MI6 was giving wasnt good enough?

  • Hypocritical

    I thought that this website was about firearms and not your political agenda.

    You guys keep posting slight political hints in your articles and expect people not to post political comments?

  • JimD

    I thought it was telling that the narrator spoke English when giving instructions to his cameraman.

  • http://tokeepandbear.blogspot.com Hal

    I think this is how they get around ITAR:

    Scenario 1: Magpul produces a book or DVD, a physical product, drops it in the mail and sends it outside the country. This is exportation.

    Scenario 2: Muhammed Smith creates a video in the US and uploads it to YouTube. Rebel fighter views it from outside the country. Nothing has been exported.

    • Rob

      Nope. Read my comment below.

      Section 120.17(a)(4), states:
      “Export means:
      (4) Disclosing (including oral or visual disclosure) or transferring technical data to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad”

      Using Youtube as a method of transfer would be sufficient.

  • ruben

    by supporters you mean the cia, right.

    • nikonmikon

      I wouldn’t be surprised ONE BIT if the S.A.D. arm of the CIA were involved with these “Arab spring” uprisings…

  • Zen

    I am vaguely familiar with Arabic. The guy is definetly speaking Arabic in the Syrian dialec (maybe Lebanese) from his accent in English, u can tell that he is Syrian American. The guy is just talking about gun safety and maintenance. He also gives tips on buying weapons; how to avoid buying a weapon in poor condition. In other words, it’s kind of obvious what he goes over in the videos.