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E-mails purport to show Assad private life

  |   March 15, 2012 at 2:30 AM
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LONDON, March 15 (UPI) -- Iran advised Syrian President Bashar Assad on crushing the uprising while Assad's wife bought chic goods online, files purported to be private e-mails showed.

A man identified as "the media and political adviser for the Iranian ambassador" advised Assad's media consultant to make sure Assad uses "powerful and violent" language in a December speech "because the people need to see a powerful president defending the country, not shaken," and to make sure Assad shows appreciation for support from "friendly states," one of more than 3,000 e-mails opposition activists disclosed to the British newspaper The Guardian indicated.

The activists said the e-mails were downloaded in real time from private accounts belonging to Assad and his wife, Asma Assad.

The Guardian said it believed the e-mails were genuine, but was unable to verify each one. It said it made extensive efforts to authenticate their legitimacy by checking their contents against established facts and confirming details with 10 people mentioned in the communications.

The messages are believed to have been intercepted by members of the opposition Supreme Council of the Revolution group between June 2011 and February 7, when the Anonymous computer-hacker group separately hacked into a number of Syrian government e-mail addresses and the correspondence suddenly stopped, The Guardian said.

Another message came from a man thought to be an Assad adviser on the restive cities of Homs and Idlib, whose opposition Syrian forces recently crushed in brutal deadly assaults.

Khaled al-Ahmed pushed Assad in November to "tighten the security grip to start [the] operation to restore state control and authority in Idlib and Hama," the e-mail said.

Hama, 30 miles north of Homs, was under siege, with fierce battles, starting Nov. 8, 2011, and Idlib, near Turkey, was the scene of mass protests in the face of a fierce regime crackdown.

Ahmed warned Assad European reporters had entered Syria "by crossing the Lebanese borders illegally," an e-mail indicated.

In another e-mail Ahmed told Assad Libya's post-Gadhafi regime was sending "a big shipment of weapons" to Syrian rebel leaders in the former Homs opposition stronghold of Baba Amr through a "neighboring" state.

The arms would "be smuggled to Syria" within days, the e-mail said.

An e-mail attributed to Assad showed him making light of reforms he promised, calling them "rubbish laws of parties, elections [and] media."

A separate e-mail, allegedly sent from the oldest daughter of Qatari Emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, purports to urge Asma Assad to encourage her husband to resign and urge that the couple leave Syria for exile in Qatar.

"I honestly think this is a good opportunity to leave and re-start a normal life. I am sure you have many places to turn to, including Doha," Al-Mayassa bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani allegedly wrote.

Asma Assad bought lavishly throughout the seven months, spending tens of thousands of dollars over the Internet on designer goods and the latest "Harry Potter" DVDs, the e-mails indicate.

A Jan. 20 e-mail reassures a friend that "Harrods sent a few days ago" a fondue set she ordered online from Amazon.

She is purported to have asked a friend in a Nov. 20, 2011, e-mail that if the friend planned to visit Syria after Dec. 2, 2011, "please can you bring the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows Part 2 (released on 2nd December)."

Asma Assad allegedly spent more than $16,000 on Parisian candlesticks, tables and chandeliers, as well as four custom necklaces from a Paris jeweler -- three studded with "yellow gold diamonds" and one equipped with "white gold diamonds," the e-mails indicate.

Bashar Assad sidestepped extensive U.S. sanctions against him by using a third party with a U.S. address to download music and apps from Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store, the e-mails suggest.

Reported exchanges between Assad and iTunes include downloads of songs by British pop duo Right Said Fred, British rock band New Order, U.S. electro pop duo LMFAO and American country music singer Blake Shelton.

A Feb. 5 e-mail, at the outset of the Homs assault, indicates Bashar Assad sent the lyrics to Shelton's "God Gave Me You" to his wife.

The lyrics in the e-mail include:

"I've been a walking heartache

"I've made a mess of me

"The person that I've been lately

"Ain't who I wanna be

"But you stay here right beside me

"Watch as the storm goes through

"And I need you."

Bashar Assad calls himself "Sam" in e-mails to his wife and Asma Assad, who was born in London and lived in Britain until age 25, calls herself "Alia Kayali."

In a Dec. 28, 2011, e-mail, Asma Assad is purported to have e-mailed her husband to say: "If we are strong together, we will overcome this together. ... I love you."

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