Elliot Higgins has never been to Syria. He has no friends and family there. Nor does he have any military experience or background in weapons analysis.
But when he lost his job last year, he used the extra hours to indulge an interest in current events, particularly the Arab Spring.
Sitting in his living room in Leicester, England, he started a blog under the handle Brown Moses, after a Frank Zappa song.
“I literally thought: No one is going to read this. But I’m doing it for my own entertainment.”
In fact, by sifting through hundreds of battle videos posted online, Higgins has shown the Syrian army’s use of cluster bombs — now documented by Human Rights Watch — although Syria has denied using cluster bombs. He’s also showed a trail of Croatian weapons supplied to Syria’s rebels by Saudi Arabia with the consent of Western allies — an investigative expose published in the New York Times.