|Died||2004 (aged 71)|
Jamil Assad (1933 – 2004) (Arabic: جميل الأسد) was a younger brother of the late Syrian dictator Hafez Assad, and the uncle of present Syrian leader Bashar Assad. He served in the Parliament of Syria, called the majlis ash-sha'b from 1971 until his death. He was also commander of a minor militia.
While both his brothers, Hafez and Rifat Assad, enforced secularism, Jamil was said to be deeply religious. During the 1980s, Jamil al Assad actively supported conversion to Shiism in the Latakia Mountains, especially among members of the Alawite community. He sent groups of Alawites to study Twelver Shiism in Iran. They made the Shiite creed common among their fellow Alawites upon their return to Syria. Jamil also built husayniyyas in the mountains, where before there had been only Alawite shrines. In order to make Shiism more acceptable there he appointed a Shiite sheihk to head the Alawite al Zahra Mosque in the city of Baniyas. He also allowed Iranian officials to enter Syria to realize conversions to Shiism.
In the 1980s, he set up a Latakia-based foundation (al Murtada), which helped fellow Alawite Muslims to go on the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The foundation is also said to have tried to convert Sunni Muslim bedouins to the Alawi faith, angering the secular ruling Baath Party in Syria. Whether true or not, the rumours caused friction with the majority Sunni population. Al Murtada is also said to have had a militia wing, made up by Alawi Muslims, which was armed and equipped by Rifaat Assad's powerful internal security division, the Defense Companies. These gangs, called shabiha, involved in all kinds of mafia-style violence and corruption. Al Murtada was banned by Hafez Assad in 1983. On the other hand, shabiha still exists.
His son Fawwaz headed commando forces stationed in Latakia that were not under the command of the regular armed forces, but they were constructed as counterweights to the power of the regular military. Jamil Assad was put under house arrest in 1981 after an unsuccessful challenge to his brother, Hafez Assad.
When Rifaat Assad attempted in 1984 to exploit the failing health of Hafez Assad, using the Defense Companies to stage a failed coup d'état, this cast doubt on Jamil Assad in the eyes of Hafez Assad. Some of his assets are reported to have been confiscated in retaliation, but there is little doubt he remained a very wealthy man.
Assad headed the national security committee in Parliament later in his life. Unlike Rifat Assad, Jamil Assad openly supported the succession to the presidency of Hafez Assad's son, Bashar Assad. Jamil Assad and his son, Fawwaz, had quite a bit of real estate and commercial enterprises. Jamil Assad reportedly spent most of later years in Europe. However, unlike Rifaat Assad, he was permitted to return periodically to Syria at his leisure. He was present at Hafez Assad's funeral.
His eldest son, Mundhir, was arrested in 2005 at the Beirut Airport while entering Lebanon. He was reported to have been involved in arms smuggling to the Iraqi insurgents. In 2011, the EU placed sanctions on him for being involved with the Shabbiha militia in the repression of protestors during the 2011 Syrian uprising. The same sanctions were also placed on Fawwaz Assad in 2011 by the European Union for his involvement with the Shabbiha militia in the repression of protesters during the 2011 Syrian uprising.
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