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" Exclusive: interview with Al-Assad's rival Adnan Kassar

At the exact time every year, Adnan Qasar is taken out from his dormitory at Tadmur Prison to get crushed and tortured under the boots. Then he is left out like a body remains. He did not know why his imprisoners chose this exact time. It took him more than five years to learn from another detainee that the date of his torture is the date of the death of Basel Al-Assad. This is when he realized that the curse of ‘boss’ is still following him even after Basel had passed away..

The horsemanQasar: he was detained while on his horse because he exceeded Basel Al-Assad.


Anan Muhammad Adnan Tawfik Qasar was the captain of the Syrian National team for horsemanship in 1992. It was not something strange to be a captain or a horseman in his inveterate Damascene family, which adored and raised horses for ages.According to a conversation between Qasar and the former detainee D.S., it is Qasar’s family who did a great favor in establishing the horsemen club in Dimas.


The captain Adnan lived his passion to the fullest. He and his brothers used to be always at the club until the nightmare of Basel Al-Assad started by his joining the club.Because of Basel Al-Assad jealousy and lack of experience, Adnan was detained.


According to Adnan Qasar, Basel Al-Assad neither knew much of the skills involved in horsemanship nor how to deal with horses. However, he wanted to force himself and his opinion on the club. He started to train and behave as if he was a skillful horsemanship. He also started to dictate his instructions on the team which has made Adnan upset especially when Al-Assad started meddling in the details of the team like selecting the type of horses to be bought for the team. Choosing the horses according to Adnan is a very complicated matter. It needs a big experience in horses. This was the beginning of the dispute between them.


According to what Qasar has told the former detainee ‘D.S’, it is during this period that he was playing with the Syrian team and he was awarded several prizes on the level of the Mediterranean region which has increased Basel Al-Assad’s hatred towards him.

The turning point of the dispute was during the Mediterranean tournament in 1992 where the competition between teams was at its best. It is known that winning in horsemanship depends on how many points each horseman gets for the whole team.

Qasar told D.S what happened that day. Basel Al-Assad committed more than one mistake which has caused a great loss for the points of team whereas Adnan could through his round from raising the average of the team not committing even one mistake. The Syrian team had won because of him and Adnan took the captain sign from Basel Al-Assad.

Basel after this incident was not embarrassed from his failure; he rather went further on in his transgression against Adnan and against the team. A year later, Adnan was at the club waiting for Basel Al-Assad to get out from the circuit. He had a bag on him, but just after Adnan went in the circuit, he was surprised when the security detained him while on his horse.


‘The boss’ gave him a favor of not executing him.

‘D.S.’ tells ‘Zaman Al-Wasl’ that when security started interrogating Qasar, they asked him whether the bag was his own. He said yes. They opened it and it was full of explosives and so they charged him of trying to assassinate Basel Al-Assad. Also, they charged him of having explosives in his car. After the interrogation, he was transferred from the military security to Sydnaya prison where he stayed for 11 months in a ward that was called ‘the dark door’. It was a dormitory for isolated prisoners. ‘D.S.’ points out that Qasar was neither beaten nor tortured during the interrogation.After he denied the charges against him, the security told him we will consult ‘the boss’with the fellowship between you. Basel Al-Assad sent him a piece of news that says, “What you have done is big. If it was not for the salt and bread we shared, I would have executed you in the Abbasside Square, but I will pardon your execution!”


To Tadmur Prison…the non-ending journey of torture

‘D.S.’describes Adnan as a horseman in his own character and his ability to control himself. The prison did not affect his pride despite the terror he experienced there. He clarified that after Qasar had spent a month at the ‘black door’ dormitory, more than ten soldiers came into the dormitory. They blindfolded, handcuffed, and put him in a bag at the prison square. Then they started beating him for more than 6 continuous hours, causing him several breaks all over his body. His lower jaw was completely broken. After that, they transferred him to Tadmur prison while he was drowning in his own blood. He stayed in a cell for a long period and then was put along with the Muslim brotherhood.

Qasar rejected the lingering death which one of the Tadmur prisoners was going through. Even though Basel Al-Assad’s torture did not escape him, he decided to make use of the fact that he is a graduate of English from a British school and he started teaching spoken English to the detainees at Tadmur because there were no pens or papers. After a while he made a blackboard with the help of another prisoner. They made it from cloth pieces and a bread bag and paint it with food remains. They used their fingers to write on it.


Bashar Al-Assad advised his family to wait for Baselfor Adnan’s trial

In the ‘reforming’ plan of Bashar Al-Assad, Tadmur prison was closed in 2000. The detainees there were transferred to Sydnaya. That was a great transformation in Adnan’s life. The security exempted him from being tortured in Basel’s commemoration. After several years, his family could reach Bashar Al-Assad through the International Horseman Union. They asked him to release Adnan and he responded with: “whoever detained him will put him on trial and decide whether he deserves freedom or not!”


‘D.S’ says that freedom for Adnan is horse riding. He always dreamed of riding horses again. This is why he kept his body fitness at prison in a hope of coming back and pursuing his dream again.


Qasar spends his time organizing courses to teach English for the detainees. This is why, according to ‘D.S’, everyone wants to befriend him, but he refuses to borrow anything from the prisoners even salt!

He is the father of a young boy and a girl. He was deprived from them from 1993 until 2005 because visits were prohibited.He feels hurt because his kids were raised like orphans and because he wished his son would be a horseman like him. His son made the wish come true.

Adnan Qasar, who is in Adra prison now, loves to draw horses with coal. He sculpts horses using the soap they give in military.

 It is worth to mention that his family did not survive Basel Al-Assad’s anger. His brother had to flee to Jordan and he is the coach of the Jordanian horseman team.

Zaman Alwasl
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