In 1956, Brunner reached Damascus, where he was known as Georg Fischer or Abu Hossein. After Hafez al-Assad seized power in 1971, Brunner helped him establish the regime’s intricate system of compartimentalised Mukhabarat agencies.He is said to have trained the most infamous intelligence chiefs, including Ali Haidar, Ali Douba, Mustafa Tlass and Shafiq al-Fayad.
Tlass attempted to create a reputation for himself as a man of culture, and emerged as an important patron of Syrian literature. He published several books of his own, and started a publishing house, Tlass Books, which has been internationally criticized for publishing alleged anti-Semitic materials.
In 1998, Syrian Defense Minister Tlass boasted to Al Bayan newspaper that he was the one who gave the green light to "the resistance" in Lebanon to attack and kill 241 US marines and 58 French paratroopers, but that he prevented attacks on the Italian soldiers of the multi-national force because "I do not want a single tear falling from the eyes of [Italian actress] Gina Lollobrigida, whom [I] loved ever since my youth." In October of the same year, Tlass stated that there was no such country as Jordan, but only "South Syria".
Tlass had also boasted to the National Assembly about Cannibalist atrocities committed against Israeli soldiers who fell captive in the Yom Kippur war. "I gave the Medal of the Republic's Hero, to a soldier from Aleppo, who killed 28 Jewish soldiers. He did not use the military weapon to kill them but utilized the ax to decapitate them. He then devoured the neck of one of them and ate it in front of the people. I am proud of his courage and bravery, for he actually killed by himself 28 Jews by count and cash."
There are three missing Israeli soldiers in the Bekaa valley since the June 1982 war in Lebanon. Tlass allegedly told a Saudi magazine: "We sent Israel the bones of dogs, and Israel may protest as much as it likes."
During his career, Tlass also became known for colorful language. In 1991, when Syria was participating on the Coalition side in the Gulf War, he stated that he felt "an overwhelming joy" when Saddam Hussein sent SCUD-missiles towards Israel. In August 1998, Tlass caused a minor uproar in Arab political circles, when he denounced Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as "the son of sixty thousand whores." The long-standing conflict between the Assad government and the Palestine Liberation Organization would not end until after Hafez al-Assad's death in 2000.
In 2000, the widow and children of Ira Weinstein who was killed in a February 1996 Hamas suicide bombing, filed a lawsuit against Tlass and the head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, Ghazi Kanaan, charging that they were responsible for providing the perpetrators with material resources and training.
In an interview which aired RT on 8 June 2009 (as translated by MEMRI), Tlass claimed that actress Gina Lollobrigida had once told him that he was the "one love in my life." He also claimed that Lady Diana wrote him letters that "were full of love and appreciation." He also claimed that Prince Charles gave him a submachine gun as a gift.
BooksTlass opened a publishing house in Damascus and was the first person to try to uncover pre-Ba'ath Syria in an objective manner.
Tlass also wrote books about Syria’s military and political history and also books of poetry, general Arab history, and a history of the military tactics used by Muhammad. His writings allegedly reflect anti-Semitism and belief in conspiracy theories. He also published two-volume memoirs, namely Mirat Hayati (Reflections of my life) in 2005.
The Matzah of ZionIn 1983, Tlass wrote and published The Matzah of Zion, which is a treatment of the Damascus affair of 1840 that repeats the ancient "blood libel", that Jews use the blood of murdered non-Jews in religious rituals such as baking Matza bread. In this book, he argues that the true religious beliefs of Jews are "black hatred against all humans and religions," and that no Arab country should ever sign a peace treaty with Israel. Tlass re-printed the book several times, and stands by its conclusions. Following the book's publication, Tlass told Der Spiegel, that this accusation against Jews was valid and that his book is "an historical study ... based on documents from France, Vienna and the American University in Beirut."
Regarding the book, Tlass has stated that "I intend through publication of this book to throw light on some secrets of the Jewish religion based on the conduct of the Jews and their fanaticism" and that both Eastern and Western civilizations threw Jews into ghettos only after recognizing their "destructive badness". He also claimed that since 1840, "...every mother warned her child: Do not stray far from home. The Jew may come by and put you in his sack to kill you and suck your blood for the Matzah of Zion."
In 1991 The Matzah of Zion was translated into English. Egyptian producer Munir Radhi subsequently decided it was the ideal "Arab answer" to the film Schindler's List and later announced plans to produce a film adaptation of The Matzah of Zion. The book also reportedly served as a "scientific" basis for a renewal of the blood libel charge in international forums. In 2001, Al Ahram published an article titled "A Jewish Matzah Made from Arab Blood" which summarized The Matzah of Zion, concluding that: "The bestial drive to knead Passover matzahs with the blood of non-Jews is [confirmed] in the records of the Palestinian police where there are many recorded cases of the bodies of Arab children who had disappeared being found, torn to pieces without a single drop of blood. The most reasonable explanation is that the blood was taken to be kneaded into the dough of extremist Jews to be used in matzahs to be devoured during Passover."
1982 Hama massacre
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(Redirected from Hama massacre)
|Hama Islamic uprising|
|Part of Islamist uprising in Syria|
| Defense Companies
Syrian Arab Army
• 3rd Armoured Division
• 10th Armoured Division
• 14th Special Forces Division
• Military Intelligence
• General Intelligence Directorate
• Air Force Intelligence
|Muslim Brotherhood in Syria|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Defense Companies: 3 Brigades (12,000 soldiers)
Syrian Arab Army : 4 Brigades (15,000 soldiers)
Total : About 30,000 soldiers
|Fewer than 2000 armed volunteers|
|Casualties and losses|
|About 1,000||Estimates vary from 2,000 to 40,000.|
Initial diplomatic reports from Western countries stated that 1,000 were killed. Subsequent estimates vary, with the lower estimates claiming that at least 2,000 Syrian citizens were killed, while others put the number at 20,000 (Robert Fisk), or 40,000 (Syrian Human Rights Committee). About 1,000 Syrian soldiers were killed during the operation and large parts of the old city were destroyed. The attack has been described as one of "the single deadliest acts by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East". According to Syrian opposition, the vast majority of the victims were civilians.
According to Syrian media, anti-government rebels initiated the fighting, who "pounced on our comrades while sleeping in their homes and killed whomever they could kill of women and children, mutilating the bodies of the martyrs in the streets, driven, like mad dogs, by their black hatred." Security forces then "rose to confront these crimes" and "taught the murderers a lesson that has snuffed out their breath".
Main article: Islamist uprising in Syria
After the clashes in Hama, the situation periodically erupted into clashes between the government and various Islamic sections. However a more serious challenge occurred after the Syrian invasion of Lebanon in 1976. From 1976 to 1982, Sunni Islamists fought the Ba'ath Party-controlled government of Syria in what has been called a "long campaign of terror". In 1979 the Brotherhood undertook guerrilla activities in multiple cities within the country targeting military officers and government officials. The resulting government repression included abusive tactics, torture, mass arrests, and a number of massacres. In July 1980, the ratification of Law No. 49 made membership in the Muslim Brotherhood a capital offense.
Throughout the first years of the 1980s the Muslim Brotherhood and various other Islamist factions staged hit-and-run and bomb attacks against the government and its officials, including a nearly successful attempt to assassinate President Hafez al-Assad on 26 June 1980, during an official state reception for the president of Mali. When a machine-gun salvo missed him, al-Assad allegedly ran to kick a hand grenade aside, and his bodyguard (who survived and was later promoted to a much higher position) smothered the explosion of another one. Surviving with only light injuries, al-Assad's revenge was swift and merciless: only hours later a large number of imprisoned Islamists (reports say more than 1200) were executed in their cells in Tadmor Prison (near Palmyra), by units loyal to the President's brother Rifaat al-Assad.
Attack by insurgents in HamaThe events of the Hama massacre began at 2 am on 3 February 1982. An army unit searching the old city "stumbled on the hideout of the local guerilla commander, Omar Jawwad (aka Abu Bakr) and were ambushed. Other insurgent cells were alerted by radio and "roof-top snipers killed perhaps a score" of Syrian soldiers. Reinforcements were rushed to besiege Abu Bakr who then "gave the order for a general uprising" in Hama. Mosque loudspeakers used for the call to prayer called for jihad against the Ba'ath, and hundreds of Islamic insurgents rose to attack the homes of government officials and Baath Party leaders, overrun police posts and ransack armories. By daybreak of the morning of 3 February some 70 leading Ba'athists had been killed and the Islamist insurgents and other opposition activists proclaimed Hama a "liberated city", urging Syrians to rise up against the "infidel".
Counter-attack by government forces
According to Amnesty International, the Syrian military bombed the old city center from the air to facilitate the entry of infantry and tanks through the narrow streets; buildings were demolished by tanks during the first four days of fighting. Large parts of the old city were destroyed. There are also unsubstantiated reports of use of hydrogen cyanide by the government forces. After encountering fierce resistance, Rifaat's forces ringed the city with artillery and shelled it for three weeks.
After the initial attacks, military and internal security personnel were dispatched to comb through the rubble for surviving members of the Muslim Brotherhood and their sympathizers. Torture and mass executions of suspected rebel sympathizers ensued, killing many thousands over several weeks. Rifaat, suspecting that rebels were still hiding in tunnels under the old city, had diesel fuel pumped into them and set ablaze and stationed T-72 tanks at the tunnel entrances to shell the militants exiting the tunnels.
Fatality estimatesInitial diplomatic reports from western governments in 1982 had stated that 1000 were killed in the fighting. Subsequent estimates of casualties varied from 7,000 to 40,000 people killed, including about 1,000 soldiers. Robert Fisk, who was in Hama shortly after the massacre, originally estimated fatalities at 10,000, but has since doubled the estimate to 20,000. The president's brother Rifaat reportedly boasted of killing 38,000 people. Amnesty International initially estimated the death toll was between 10,000 and 25,000.
Reports by Syrian Human Rights Committee claimed "over 25,000" or between 30,000 and 40,000 people were killed. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood also suggested a figure of approximately 40,000 victims.
Twenty years later, Syrian journalist Subhi Hadidi, wrote that forces "under the command of General Ali Haydar, besieged the city for 27 days, bombarding it with heavy artillery and tank [fire], before invading it and killing 30,000 or 40,000 of the city's citizens – in addition to the 15,000 missing who have not been found to this day, and the 100,000 expelled."
AftermathAfter the Hama uprising, the Islamist insurrection was broken, and the Brotherhood has since operated in exile while other factions surrendered or slipped into hiding. Government attitudes in Syria hardened considerably during the uprising, and Assad would rely more on repression than on political tactics for the remainder of his rule, although an economic liberalization began in the 1990s.
After the massacre, the already evident disarray in the insurgents' ranks increased, and the rebel factions experienced acrimonious internal splits. Particularly damaging to their cause was the deterrent effect of the massacre, as well as the realization that no Sunni uprisings had occurred in the rest of the country in support of the Hama rebels. Most members of the rebel groups fled the country or remained in exile, mainly in Jordan and Iraq, while others would make their way to the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. The Muslim Brotherhood—the largest opposition group—split into two factions, after giving up on armed struggle. One, more moderate and recognized by the international Muslim Brotherhood, eventually headquartered itself in the UK where it remains, while another for several years retained a military structure in Iraq, with backing from the government, before rejoining the London-based mainstream.
The Hama massacre is often raised in indictment of the Assad government's poor human rights record. Within Syria, mention of the massacre has been strictly suppressed, although the general contours of the events—and various partisan versions, on all sides—are well known throughout the country. When the massacre is publicly referenced, it is only as the "events" or "incident" at Hama.