General Ali Mamlouk is one of the most powerful Syrian security officers and a high ranking aide to President Bashar al Assad. He is the director of the Baath Party National Security Bureau, but his reputation came from his position as the General directorate of Intelligence, one of the four most powerful agencies in Syria. In this capacity, he was involved in some of the most sensitive issues concerning Syria.
Mamlouk is one of the few Sunni high ranking officers who hold offices in the intelligence agencies. He was in charge of discussing efforts with American officials to increase co-operation between Washington and Damascus on terrorism. But in April 2011, the US government imposed sanctions on Gen Mamluk.
In July 2012, President Assad assigned Mamlouk the role of Chairman of the National Security Bureau, a Baath party-affiliated agency, and the top office in charge of security in Syria. He succeeded Hisham Ikhtiar, the former Chairman, who died after a bomb attack on its headquarters on 18 July 2012. The blast also killed Mr Assad’s brother-in-law, Deputy Defense Minister Gen Asef Shawkat, Defense Minister Gen Daoud Rajiha, and former Defense Minister Hassan Turkomani, who was in charge of the security forces’ crisis management office.
According to a leaked US Embassy cable, Gen Mamlouk discussed efforts with American officials to increase co-operation between Washington and Damascus on terrorism issues at a surprise meeting with US diplomats in 2010, according to a leaked US classified cable. He said the GSD had been more successful at fighting terrorism in the region because “we are practical and not theoretical”.
In April 2011, the US government imposed sanctions on Gen Mamluk, saying he had been responsible for human rights abuses, including through the use of violence against civilians.
His agency had repressed internal dissent, monitored individual citizens, and had been “involved in the Syrian regime’s actions in Deraa, where protesters were killed by Syrian security services,” it alleged.
The next month, the EU also imposed sanctions on Gen Mamlouk, saying he had been involved in efforts to crush anti-government protesters.
A Sunni from Damascus, he is said to be on good terms with all of Syria’s intelligence agencies – Jamil Hassan, the head of Air Force Intelligence, and Mohammed Dib Zaitoun, the General Security Directorate chief, were once his assistants.
Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Gen Mamlouk had also met several opposition figures inside Syria to “incite them to renounce violence and back the reforms of the Assad regime”.
Mamlouk, born in 1946, was appointed director of the General Security Directorate in 2005. Ever since, he was looked at as the most powerful man in the security services, and one of the strongest aides to President Assad. Before that he was deputy head of the feared Air Force Intelligence.
Sources: the Syrian Observer; BBC; Guardian