Rustum Ghazaleh

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Rustum Ghazaleh
Commander of the Syrian National Police
Assumed office
Leader Bashar al-Assad
Head of the Syrian National Intelligence Agency
Assumed office
President Bashar al-Assad
Preceded by Rafiq Shahadah
Personal details
Born (1953-05-03) 3 May 1953 (age 61)
Daraa Governorate
Nationality Syrian
Political party Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Religion Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Syria
Service/branch Syrian Arab Army
Years of service 1973-
Rank EgyptianArmyInsignia-LieutenantGeneral.svg Lt. General
Unit 112 Mechanized Brigade
Military Intelligence
Political Security Directorate
Commands Syrian Forces in Lebanon
Battles/wars 1982 Lebanon War

Rustum Ghazaleh (رستم غزالة also transl. from Arabic as Rostom Ghazale, Rustom Ghazalah, Rustom Ghazali, etc.; born 3 May 1953)[1] is a Syrian military and intelligence officer.

Early life[edit]

Ghazaleh was born into a Sunni family in a village in Daraa province on 3 May 1953.[2][3]


Ghazaleh joined the Syrian Arab Army as a first lieutenant and platoon commander of a mechanized infantry (BMP-1) unit in 1973, just in time for the Yom Kippur War but did not see frontline combat. He later trained in artillery and military intelligence in the Soviet Union. He was later an artillery spotter and commander of a mechanized battalion during the Lebanese Civil War. He was appointed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in December 2002 to succeed late Ghazi Kanaan as head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon.[4][5] He frequently traveled to the Bekaa valley where he had a residence and his headquarters in Anjar, and has been accused of involvement in the Bekaa drug trade and other smuggling ventures.[6]

In early 2005, the killing of Rafik Hariri led to intense pressure on Syria. Ghazale's and Kanaan's foreign assets were frozen by the United States for their role in the alleged occupation of Lebanon and other suspected irregularities.[7] Syria eventually withdrew its 15,000 man strong army. Ghazaleh relocated to Syria. However, some Lebanese and foreign observers alleged that Syria keeps interfering with Lebanese politics through parts of its intelligence apparatus left behind in the country; Syria denies the charges. Kanaan later allegedly committed suicide.

In September 2005, Ghazaleh was questioned on the Hariri assassination by United Nations investigator Detlev Mehlis. In December 2005, former Syrian vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam accused Ghazaleh of political corruption, dictatorial rule in Lebanon and of threatening Hariri prior to his death.[8] After the withdrawal from Lebanon little was heard of him. However, at the beginning of the protests in Daraa, Ghazaleh was sent by Bashar al-Assad to assure locals of the president's good intentions. He reportedly told them: "We have released the children" - a reference to several teenagers who were arrested for writing anti-regime graffiti inspired by the events in Egypt and Tunisia. In May 2011, the European Union said Ghazaleh was head of military intelligence in Damascus countryside (Rif Dimashq) governorate, which borders Daraa governorate, and was involved in the repression of dissent in the region. He is considered part of Assad's inner circle.[9]

On 24 July 2012, Ghazali was appointed chief of political security.[10][11]


  1. ^ "Restrictive measures against Syria". EURLex. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "List of natural and legal persons". Official Journal of the EU. 19 January 2012. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Harris, William (Summer 2005). "Bashar al-Assad's Lebanon Gamble". Middle East Quarterly XII (3): 33–44. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  4. ^ William Harris (19 July 2012). Lebanon: A History, 600-2011. Oxford University Press. p. 267. ISBN 978-0-19-518111-1. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Knudsen, Are (2005). "Precarious peacebuilding: Post-war Lebanon, 1990-2005". CMI Working Paper 2. Retrieved 17 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Pan, Esther. "Syria's Leaders". Council on Foreign Relations Backgrounders. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 12 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Jehl, Douglas (30 June 2005). "U.S. Freezes Assets of Syrian Officials Active in Lebanon". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 July 2010. 
  8. ^ "Full text of Khaddam's interview with Arabiya". Ya Libnan LLC. 8 January 2006. Archived from the original on 7 January 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "Bashar al-Assad's inner circle". BBC. 18 May 2011. 
  10. ^ "The former head of Syrian military intelligence in Lebanon, General Rustom Ghazali, named chief of political security". Al Jazeera (Rayaq). 24 July 2012. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Rustom Ghazali Named Chief of Political Security". Naharnet. 24 July 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2013.