Hafez Makhlouf

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Hafez Makhlouf
حافظ مخلوف
Personal details
Born (1971-04-02) 2 April 1971 (age 48)
Damascus, Syria
Nationality Syrian
Political party Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Religion Alawite
Military service
Years of service 1992-
Rank Syria-Amid.jpg Brigadier General

Hafez Makhlouf (Arabic: حافظ مخلوف‎‎‎; born 2 April 1971) is a Syrian intelligence officer and head of the internal branch of the General Security Directorate, Syria's civilian intelligence agency.[1] He is a member of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's "inner circle" of close supporters.[2]

Early life

Makhlouf was born in Damascus on 2 April 1971.[3] He is the maternal cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the brother of Rami Makhlouf, Syria's leading businessman. He was commissioned in the Republican Guard in 1992 and was a close friend of Bassel al-Assad. Hafez Makhlouf is perhaps best known for being one of the two survivors[4] of the high-speed car crash in 1994 that killed Bashar al-Assad's elder brother, Bassel al-Assad, who was being groomed to succeed their father, Hafez al-Assad.[5]


Makhlouf is a Brigadier of the Army and the head of intelligence at the General Security Directorate's Damascus branch.[6][7]


Makhlouf was sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury in 2007 for "undermining the sovereignty of Lebanon or its democratic processes and institutions." The sanctions called for freezing "any assets the designees may have located in the United States", and prohibited U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with these individuals".[8] In May 2011, the EU imposed sanctions against Makhlouf, saying he was an "associate of Maher Assad" who "bankrolls the regime allowing violence against demonstrators" and had been "involved in violence against demonstrators" as head of the GSD's Damascus branch.[7] The US treasury department also announced new sanctions against him in May 2011, stating that Makhlouf had been "given a leading role in responding to protests in Syria, and was heavily involved in the Syrian government's actions in Deraa, where protesters were killed". Opposition activists argued that Makhlouf enjoys greater influence over the president than the head of the General Security Directorate, Ali Mamlouk.

Swiss authorities froze Hafez Makhlouf's account of about 3 million euros in a Geneva bank for suspected money laundering in 2011.[9] In February 2012, Makhlouf won a legal bid to unfreeze SFr 3 million ($3.3 million) held in bank accounts in Switzerland[10] after he appealed, saying it predated sanctions.[9] However, his legal bid to enter Switzerland to meet with his lawyers was rejected by Switzerland's supreme court at the end of 2011.[11]

Reports on death, and relocating to Belarus

On 18 July 2012, Al Arabiya reported that Makhlouf was killed in a bombing which targeted Syria's National Security headquarters in Damascus.[12] Other sources however indicated that he was only wounded in the attack.[13]

In September 2014 multiple sources reported that he had relocated to Belarus with his wife. Earlier in the month Makhlouf had been removed from his powerful intelligence post in Damascus but pro-government sources said at the time that it was a “routine” move. Joshua Landis, a U.S. expert on Syria tweeted that Makhlouf had left Syria and that he and his brother Ihab had removed Assad’s photo from their Facebook pages and WhatsApp profiles.[14]

See also


  1. "By All Means Necessary!" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. December 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Bashar al-Assad's inner circle". BBC News. 18 May 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "List of persons and entities referred to in articles 3 and 4". Official Journal of the European Union. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/22/world/assad-s-son-killed-in-an-auto-crash.html
  5. Sipress, Alan (22 January 1994). "Assad's Son is Killed in a Car". Inquirer. Retrieved 13 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Kaphie, Anud (18 July 2012). "Who's who in Bashar al-Assad's inner circle?". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "List of peoples". Official Journal of the European Union. 136. 24 May 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Sharp, Jeremy M. (9 August 2011). "Unrest in Syria and U.S. Sanctions Against the Asad Regime" (CRS Report for Congress). Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 21 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Inman, Phillip (21 July 2012). "Assad keeps it all in the family with a hoard up to $1.5bn". The Sydney Herald Morning. Retrieved 20 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Assad cousin wins case to unfreeze Swiss assets". Swiss Info. 10 February 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Jordans, Frank (1 January 2012). "Assad cousin denied visa to Switzerland". The Daily Star. Retrieved 20 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Bomb kills Syria defense minister, Assad's brother-in-law and key aides". Al Arabiya. 18 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Jansen, Michael (19 July 2012). "Syrian bombing: Key regime figures killed in attack". Irish Times. Retrieved 20 July 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "Assad cousin relocates to Belorussia". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>