Ali Douba — one of the veteran security chiefs in Syria — has died at his home on the Syrian coast, aged 90. Although retired for over 20 years, the longevity of his tenure at military intelligence kept his name “alive” in Syrian society, and its mere mention was enough to send shivers down the spine of those old enough to remember him and his era.
He was never a public face. In fact, few knew what he looked like until pictures of him started appearing on social media networks over the past 10 years.
A friendship that would change Syria's history
Born in 1933 in the village of Qurfas, south of the coastal city of Latakia, Douba hailed from a humble family from the Matawra clan of the Alawite community, a minority offshoot of Shiite Islam. His family had enough money to send him to the Holy Land School in Latakia, then to the Homs Military Academy where he graduated in 1955.
During his school days, he joined the local branch of the Ba'ath Party, led by a physician-turned-politician named Wahib al-Ghanem. And this is where he met one of Ghanim’s disciples Hafez al-Assad, who was three years his senior.
Al-Assad and Douba would establish a friendship that would change the course of Syrian history. They both joined the Syrian army, with al-Assad entering the air force and Douba heading to Military Intelligence, known at the time as the Deuxieme Bureau.