The Killing of Muhammad al-Assad, a.k.a. “Shaykh al-Jabal”

MuhammadAssad2015_1The Killing of Muhammad al-Assad, a.k.a. “Shaykh al-Jabal”
By: Mohammad D.
For Syria Comment, March 14, 2015

Muhammad Tawfiq al-Assad, a.k.a Shaykh al-Jabal, a well known second cousin of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was killed two days ago. He was the son of Tawfic al-Assad. His grandfather, Ismail al-Assad, was a half-brother of the late president Hafez al-Assad. Muhammad al-Assad, a.k.a Shaykh al-Jabal, was the best known and most feared member of the second generation of shabiha that emerged from the al-Assad family in rural Latakia in the early 1980s. In his death announcement (Na’wa نعوة), he is listed as both a Doctor and Mujahid. He was 48 years old.

His being given the honorific title “Mujahid” made people ask where and when Muhammad al-Assad, a.k.a Shaykh al-Jabal, was fighting. His supporters claimed that he was killed in the vicious battle underway in Doreen دورين, east of Latakia.

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The Battle of Doreen is  important and has been heated for some time. The Syria Arab Army and National Defense Forces (al-Difa’ al-Watani) attacked recently and were able to achieve some success. The Hill of Doreen fell first, then Doreen itself. But since then it has become a tough back-and-forth slog against a coalition of rebel militias that include Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Jabha al-Islamiyah. The rebels are trying to retake the high ground and break through into the Alawite areas below Doreen. The high ground also allows for rockets to be fired at Latakia.

Regime Soldiers killed fighting Jabhat al-Nusra around Dorin in Latakia

Doreen is a well known summer resort in the mountains next to Salma. It is a Sunni village and was held by the anti Assad groups for years. Salma is the biggest and only important stronghold left in the hands of the anti Assad forces East of Latakia in the Jabal al-Akrad region.

Doreen is strategically important because it is a high point and puts Salma, a major rebel stronghold, under the guns of Assad forces. The fall of Salma would provide a major victory for al-Assad in the coastal areas. Thus, the battles are heated. To put Muhammad al-Assad, a.k.a, Shaykh al-Jabal in the midst of this battle would mean that he was a Mujahid, as his death notice claims.

The Question is: was Shaykh al-Jabal really fighting there? Alawite sources that I have contacted in Latakia, and one in al-Qurdaha itself, all claim he was not. They confirm one story: Shaykh al-Jabal was killed near al-Qurdaha by a man named Ali Salhab  علي سلهب. This happened after Shaykh al-Jabal had a long night of drinking and partying. Whether or not Ali Salhab was drinking is debated because many said he ambushed Shaykh al-Jabal, then shot him dead.

There was bad blood between these two men. One of the sources said that “Shaykh al-Jabal ” was killed because he had put Ali Salhab in prison and tortured him. According to this source, Mohammad al-Assad had his own prison. Another source said that Ali Salhab killed him because of a land deal gone bad, and that Assad’s body was then taken to Doreen in order to provide him with an honorable death at the battle front.

When asking a pro-Assad supporter about the doctorate degree Muhammad al-Assad A.K.A. Shaykh al-Jabal claimed on his death notice, he said: “His degree is false…he was no doctor…just a smuggler… he bought his doctorate from an Eastern European country the same way he bought the name Shaykh al-Jabal for himself. See, the real Shaykh al-Jabal are the fighters who are cold, most likely hungry, and fighting in the mountains…”

Muhammad al-Assad gave himself the name Shaykh al-Jabal, when he was an up-and-coming smuggler in the late 1980s and one of the Shabiha.  But, he was not the top Shabih by any measure. That position was held by Fawaz al-Assad, the son Hafiz al-Assad’s full brother Jamil.  Despite being under the shadow of Fawaz, “Shaykh al-Jabal” was able to assemble a notorious gang of smugglers that operated for a long time.  But when the age of smuggling came to an end with the opening up of the economy, Muhammad al-Assad bought himself a Ph.D and upgraded along with the rest of Syria.

Stories about his bad behavior are many, the most notorious of which is the story of Hala ‘Aqel, a very beautiful Alawite 18 year old who died in mysterious circumstances twenty-five years ago.  Anti-Assad agitators claimed that Shaykh al-Jabal killed her.  I myself was living in Latakia when this happened and to my knowledge no one knew how she died.  No investigation was carried out into the reasons for her sudden death. This left the door open for those who had been hurt by the Assads to claim that Muhammad had killed her.

Bashar al-Assad’s many second cousins and distant relatives who share his family name do not orbit in the same sphere as his first cousins, many of whom are trusted to fill sensitive positions in running security or the economy. Mohammad al-Assad may have shared the president’s last name, but his notoriety came from being a smuggler and highway robber (qata’ al-tariq) and not as a man of consequence.


Note: Jabal means mountain in Arabic. Shaykh al-Jabal means: The Chief of the Mountain.


Comments (58)

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51. Sami said:

These childish accusation are a tell tale sign of how bankrupt your arguments are. Got nothing intelligent to counter with so you stoop to throwing accusations that cannot be proven.

This crap has nothing to do with either the post or Syria. Don’t like what they say you can skip the post.

Grow up!

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March 19th, 2015, 7:14 pm


52. omen said:

17. Yacoubi said:

watch this video please;

This Imam has met Assad, talking about the situation, in the beginning of so called Revolution, he said that Family members of Assad and his Mother interfere his decisions. Apparently Assad is not only suffering from interfering his Family in his work, but also from the black history of some Family members. Muhammad al-Assad is one of what Assad got shame of being his cousin, make out like a bandit, but he was a bandit. So I’m not wondering if Assad him self in some way, gave orders to liquidate him, it’s much better to execute him, for his criminal conduct.

forgive me yacoubi, this is not an attack against you. i appreciate you being kind enough to provide a summary but i am struck by this imam’s argument.

it’s all mommie’s fault? is this really credible? all this time i thought hitler responsible for the holocaust. bet mom was to blame.

i like how apologists, like this imam, put bashar up on a pedestal. according to them, batta’s the real victim suffering the machinations of his own regime. as absurd as that sounds, it exposes the desperation of his supporters grasping at straws to relieve their conscience of the ugly reality of their supporting genocide. i believe this is called arrested emotional development to be so juvenile as to blame MOTHER for all evil in the world.

if bashar is too weak to stand up to his mommie, is he fit to rule?

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March 20th, 2015, 12:07 am


53. omen said:

sami thank you. trolls who only resort to personalization bring nothing to the table & have no game. we are better off ignoring the mosquito buzzing. i dont even notice the noise anymore.

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March 20th, 2015, 12:20 am


54. omen said:

welcome back alan.

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March 20th, 2015, 12:23 am


55. omen said:

37. mjabali said:

Omen: the paid propagandist:

Obviously my response is too much for you to handle….You can barely answer any point of mine and always direct me into some emotional TRAP……

Go play somewhere else…

You trying to manipulate people’s emotions is a cheap ploy…go play another one…

Paid propagandists have the same bag of tricks….

What Syria need today is a political solution not another round of making stories that is going to further the misery of the Syrian people because it encourages more violence.

in other words, it’s pointless to appeal to your humanity.

why have you hardened your heart against your people’s anguish?

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March 24th, 2015, 12:10 pm



Only in Athad lala land, a drug overdose makes one a Martyr Doctor Mujahid Hero. Go figure. A former editor of this blog must be irritated now, a cousin of the illustrious prethident beloved by most syrians is now dead. The Noble Royal family of syria is now minus 1 ….oops make that -2 as of the date of this hateful comment. May the prethident and the rest of this clan of filth all become doctors mujahids heroes and above all, martyrs.

I know Ghufran, you can cry for me, I am no longer a humanist, specially when it comes to this clan of filth.

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March 28th, 2015, 4:51 am



Landis states that this scum bag was “not a man of consequence”, what is this? trying to clear the rap sheet of the thug in chief? by disassociating him from the crimes of his cousins, who are his most critical intimidation gangs in the coastal mountains?

as for no consequence… i think Landis needs to tell that to the victims of this scumbag’s crimes………

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March 28th, 2015, 5:01 am



LOL, the criminal was stopped by the “Chevalier martyer” bassel al-ass-ad.
that thug was not trying to clean, everyone knows, he was collecting from those who did not pay the sons of hafer share. Meaning he was establishing the sons of hafer’s monopoly on gang affairs.

Funny how much baathist athadist myths permeate the sub-conscious of Syrians. Funnier yet it is when a westerner peddles these myths.

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March 28th, 2015, 5:09 am


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