"Abu Yazid, the rebel interviewed by Skype, identified himself as a leftist engineering student. But his nom de guerre recalls a historic figure reviled by Shiites and sometimes invoked by Sunni Muslim factions who consider Shiites apostates." Read this sentence and you realize how much Ms. Barnard is all over herself in the Syria story. So she interviewed this guy who claimed to her that he was a leftist. It is clear that she saw no contradiction between his claim that he was a leftist and his selection of the name of "Abu Yazid" because otherwise, she should have concluded that he is not a reliable contact because he was lying about something as basic as his political orientation. I bet you that after she talked to him and after believing that he was a leftist, one of the Arabs in the NYT office pointed to her the significance of the name of Abu Yazid for her to add the reference above. And if she was skeptical, why did she not ask him about that major and glaring contradiction. This is as basic as seeing an atheist praying.