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Country music, Chris Brown, Harry Potter: Leaked emails reveal tastes of Syria's Assad

SANA via EPA

Syrian President Bashar Assad is accompanied by his wife as he poses for a photograph while casting his vote during the referendum on a new constitution in Damascus on Feb. 26.

Amid his violent crackdown on Syria's protesters, president Bashar Assad turned to country music to console his wife and bought songs by Chris Brown and Harry Potter apps on iTunes, while his first lady ordered luxury goods from stores in Paris and London, according to what appear to be several thousand leaked emails.

The Guardian newspaper reported that some 3,000 emails had been obtained from an unnamed Syrian opposition member.


The emails were intercepted from June last year until early February as Assad cracked down on opponents in a revolt that the United Nations estimates has killed 8,000 people. The Guardian said the emails came from the private accounts of Assad and his wife and it had made extensive efforts to verify them.

One email that Asma sent to her husband in late December revealed the stress on the couple as international pressure grew on Syrian authorities to halt the violence.

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"If we are strong together, we will overcome this together ... I love you...," the email read.

'I've made a mess of me'
More recently on February 5, 2012, Assad sent Asma the lyrics to a country song by singer Blake Shelton.

"I've been walking a heartache / I've made a mess of me / The person that I've been lately / Ain't who I wanna be," the first verse read.

According to the Guardian, the exchange was "laden with self-pity."

In July, when his wife emailed that she would be finished by 5 p.m., Assad replied: "This is the best reform any country can have that u told me where will you be. We are going to adopt it instead of the rubbish laws of parties, elections, media..."

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Others among The Guardian’s trove of emails apparently reveal that Assad bought a wide range of music on iTunes, including songs by Chris Brown, Right Said Fred and A Tribute to Cliff Richard by 21st Century Christmas.

Deathly Hallows
He also ordered the Harry Potter film Deathly Hallows Part 2 and other Harry Potter apps, in addition to the Walter Isaacson biography of the late Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Assad also appears to have shared a YouTube video with his media adviser that mocks Arab League monitors for being unable to find the regime's tanks, according to leaked emails obtained by a newspaper.

"Check out this video on YouTube," Assad wrote to Hadeel al-Ali, according to the Guardian newspaper. She reportedly responded, "Hahahahahahaha, OMG!!! This is amazing!"

In the spoof video, which the Guardian published, a narrator demonstrates how to disguise a tank in front of an Arab League monitor.

He uses a toy car outfitted with a straw as the tank and a plastic doll to represent the monitor. A stack of biscuits plays the role of a building in the devastated city of Homs.

When the plastic doll appears the narrator in the video removes the straw from the toy car, thus disguising the tank from the monitor.

"Now, as the Arab monitor comes to check whether the Syrian regime has complied with the Arab initiatives or not ... He does not know what is going on," the narrator says.

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Other emails showed that Asma was arranging for the purchase of an Armani lamp from London's posh Harrods store, placing orders for jewelled necklaces from Paris and chasing up on a delivery of furniture to Damascus.

She reportedly spent nearly $16,000 on candlesticks, tables and chandeliers from Paris, the Guardian said. A $4,000 vase also caught her eye, though she was looking for a bargain.

"Pls can abdulla see if this available at Harrods to order -- they have a sale at the moment," she wrote to a family contact in London.

The contact replied, "He bought it. Got 15% discount. Delivery 10 weeks."

The Guardian said it had made extensive efforts to authenticate the emails by checking their contents against established facts and contacting 10 individuals whose correspondence appears in the cache.

"These checks suggest the messages are genuine, but it has not been possible to verify every one," the Guardian said.

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Msnbc.com staff and Reuters contributed to this report.