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12/30/2013 12:28 pm ET | Updated Jan 25, 2014

Bashar Assad: An Intimate Profile Of A Mass Murderer

ASSOCIATED PRESS

In 1982, not long after his father's military pulverized a town called Hama, Bashar Al Assad got a jet ski. It was the tail end of one of the bloodiest periods in Syrian history—what one intellectual called “the hunting time.” In Damascus, a white Peugeot 504 idled on every other corner with mukhabarat, or secret police, inside. Corruption and smuggling were ubiquitous; at least 30 percent of the country’s GDP, and probably much more, came from the black market. Everyday goods like bananas and paper tissues were hard to find; jet skis were practically unknown.

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