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Assad’s in-box: Alleged emails of Syrian dictator and wife give glimpse into inner circle

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Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad and his wife Asma in Paris 2010. (Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images)

As the Syrian death toll continues to mount, countries from around the world have vehemently condemned its leader Bashar al-Assad for prolonging his bloody, year-long crackdown on unrest. But the dictator and his London-born wife Asma al-Assad appear to live in a surreal psychological bubble, insulated from the grotesque violence that has claimed the lives of 8,000 Syrians, according to a cache of some 3,000 alleged emails and documents obtained by Syrian activists and published by the Guardian Wednesday.

The supposed emails portray a dictator both sentimental and sinister. Assad, who allegedly used the email address Sam@alshahba.com according to the hacked emails, took to his iPad to send his wife American country music favorites from iTunes and to search for "America's Got Talent" videos. In addition to the light fare, he also sent out rabidly paranoid articles to his inner circle that accuse the American envoy to Syria of recruiting al-Qaida-linked "Arab 'death squads'" to try to topple him, as the Guardian reports:

Assad's emails reveal his inner fears and suspicions. On 16 October, as the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, called for international action to avoid "full-blown civil war" in Syria, Assad circulated from his iPad an article to a list of undisclosed recipients an article alleging that the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, was responsible for "recruiting Arab 'death squads' from al-Qaida-affiliated units in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, and Chechnya to fight against Syrian military and police".

He sent another rabid article to his wife on 23 July that described Rupert Murdoch as a Jew and an Israeli citizen and "pretty much" Satan.

But the dictator, who trained as an eye doctor in the UK before assuming the Syrian presidency from his late father Hafaz al-Assad, also "kept up a flow of personal, loving emails to his wife using the disguised accounts....Sometimes he searched the internet for video clips that impressed him, on one occasion sending her a clip from America's Got Talent of 'the best illusion of all time' — a man appearing to saw another man in half and then putting him back together again, to the delight of the judges David Hasselhoff, Sharon Osbourne and Piers Morgan," the Guardian wrote.

The hacked emails show his wife Asma al-Assad (who allegedly used the email address ak@alshahba.com), to be mostly obsessed with luxury shopping.

"On 3 February 2012, she was browsing the internet for luxury shoes, according to an email titled "Christian Louboutin shoes coming shortly," the Guardian reports. "Does anything catch your eye" she asks a friend, who responded frankly: "I don't think they're going 2 b useful any time soon unfortunately."

The authenticity of the emails has not yet been independently verified. The Guardian explains why it believes the emails are genuine, and its extensive efforts to vet them, here.

"Activists say they were passed username and password details believed to have been used by the couple by a mole in the president's inner circle," the paper writes. "They say the details allowed uninterrupted access to the two Inboxes until the leak was discovered in February."

The UN's special envoy to Syria, former UN chief Kofi Annan, recently returned from meeting Assad in Damascus last weekend, and is due to brief the UN Security Council on Syria this Friday.

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