Ali Mamluk

06.06.2018 ( Last modified: 01.04.2022 )
TRIAL International reminds its users that any person charged by national or international authorities is presumed innocent until proven guilty.


Ali Mamluk was born in Damascus on 19 February 1946. He is one of the founders of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence Service. After having served as the head of the General Security Directorate, President Bashar al-Assad appointed him in June 2005 as head of the National Security Bureau. Since 9 May 2011, Mamluk has been subjected to sanctions by the European Union and the United States for his role in the repression of the Syrian population.

On 22 February 2012, while covering the siege of the city of Homs, war correspondent Marie Colvin lost her life in an attack conducted by the forces of the Syrian government on the building where she was together with other journalists. Mamluk is accused of being one of the Syrian officials behind this attack.

 Additionally, on 17 February 2013, Abdulmuemen Alhaj Hamdo, a Syrian national born in Idleb, disappeared while delivering goods between the municipality Mashta el Helou and the city of Homs, in the west of Syria. In 2015, the oldest son of Abdulmuemen Alhaj Hando recognised his father’s corpse on multiple photographs taken by a forensic photographer going by the name of Caesar, a deserter from the Syrian army. Caesar published more than 50’000 photographs exhibiting the multitude of crimes committed in detention centres of the Syrian government since 2013.

Mamluk is also accused of assassinating Wissam Al-Hassan, the head of the Information Branch of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, who died in a car bombing in 2012.

More generally, war crimes and crimes against humanity were allegedly committed in detention centres controlled by the Syrian intelligence services, in particular in Security Branches 215, 235, and 227. High-ranking individuals, including Mamluk, are suspected of being responsible as superiors, indirect perpetrators, or accomplices in conducting illegal arrests, detentions, torture, sexual violence, and other inhumane acts in the detention centres of these branches between May 2011 and July 2015.


Legal procedure


On 11 August 2012, a Lebanese court charged Mamluk in absentia for his involvement in the assassination of Wissam Al-Hassan, the head of the Information Branch of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces. On 4 February 2013, Lebanon issued an international arrest warrant against Ali Mamluk. 


On 9 July 2016, the Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA) and law firm Shearman & Sterling filed a complaint against the Syrian government for the murder of the American war correspondent Marie Colvin, on behalf of her family. The complaint was filed before the Columbia District Court for the murder of a U.S. citizen under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, a federal law allowing victims to sue states considered to provide support to terrorism, such as Syria. Ali Mamluk is one of the Syrian officials named and targeted by the complaint. 

The Syrian Government has not responded to the complaint, but Bashar Al-Assad did deny targeting and killing Colvin in order to stifle her reporting of the conflict. 


On 1 February 2017, Amal Hag Hamdo Anfalis, a Spanish national of Syrian origin, filed a complaint before the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) against nine high-ranking individuals, soldiers, and top officials of the Syrian Arab Republic for alleged acts of terrorism and the enforced disappearance of her brother, Abdulmuemen Alhaj Hamdo. Mamluk is one of the persons targeted by the complaint.

 On 27 March 2017, Amal Hag Hamdo Anfalis’ complaint was found admissible and an investigation was opened. As a result, Eurojust was asked to verify whether other countries in the European Union were investigating international crimes committed by the Syrian administration. Further, it was ordered for testimonies to be taken from the plaintiff and other witnesses and that further evidence had to be collected.

On 30 May 2017, the Spanish public prosecutor appealed the decision.

On 27 July 2017, the Spanish National Court decided to dismiss the case after the prosecutor declared that the Spanish courts do not have jurisdiction to judge the crimes. The NGO ‘Guernica 37’ appealed this decision before the appellate chamber of the Spanish National Court. On 15 December 2017, the appeal was rejected.

In February 2018, Guernica 37 requested the Spanish Supreme Court to admit their complaint and to order the reopening of the investigation.

They also asked the Constitutional Court to examine the constitutionality of the current law on universal jurisdiction in Spain.

In parallel, they seized the Court of Justice of the European Union to know if the current definition of a victim under the Spanish legislation is in accordance with European regulations and if the European directives equate the concepts of direct and indirect victim in order to hold legitimacy to exercise jurisdiction and give competence to the Spanish courts.

On 13 March 2019, the Spanish Supreme Court dismissed the appeal lodged by the law firm Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, deciding that Spanish Courts lacked jurisdiction over the crimes and adopting a narrow interpretation of the concept of victim.

This decision was appealed before the Constitutional Court on 30 April 2019. The Court could not find any prima facie infringement of the victim’s fundamental rights and, consequently, dismissed the appeal.


On 1 March 2017, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the Syrian Center for Legal Researches and Studies (SCLRS), and the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Speech (SCM), as well as seven Syrian victims, filed a complaint for torture against six high-ranking Syrian individuals, including Ali Mamluk, before the German federal prosecutor’s office.

On 21 September 2017, the Caesar-Files Support Group and the ECCHR filed a new complaint before the German federal prosecutor’s office against high-ranking individuals of the Syrian intelligence services and the military police for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in Syrian detention centres, adding to the elements of proof put forth in the complaint of 1 March 2017.

On 6 November 2017, the ECCHR, two layers, and nine Syrians filed a complaint before the German federal prosecutor’s office for crimes against humanity and war crimes in Syria. The crimes denounced are murder, persecution, torture, and sexual violence, allegedly committed between September 2011 and June 2014 by the intelligence services of the Syrian Air Force in Damas, Alep and Hama. Mamluk is one of the officials named and targeted by the complaint.

On 28 June 2018, the ECCHR filed a complaint before the European Commission against Italy for having contravened the prohibition barring Mamluk access on the territory of the European Union. Allegedly, Mamluk met with the Italian Minister of the Interior, Marco Minniti, and the Italian head of intelligence, Alberto Manenti, at the beginning of the year 2018.



In October 2018, the French authorities issued arrest warrants against three high commanders from the Syrian security services: Jamil Hassan (head of the Air Force Intelligence Directorate), Ali Mamluk (head of the National Security Bureau) and Abdel Salam Mahmoud. They are accused of complicity of torture, complicity of enforced disappearances, complicity of crimes against humanity, war crimes and violations of the law of war.

In 2019, the investigative judges heard around 20 new witnesses who had been held in the Mezzeh detention center in Damascus.

In 2020, the investigation is ongoing. Syrian survivors of the Mezzeh detention center in Damascus were heard by the investigative judge throughout the year.

In 2021, the investigative judges heard the NGO Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression as a civil party in the proceedings.

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