Assad behind deadly mall blaze in Qatar: leaked documents

Leaked files obtained by Al Arabiya unveil exclusive information on the Syrian strategy to “embarrass” Qatar. (Al Arabiya)

In May, a shopping mall blaze in Qatar killed 19 people, most of them children at an unlicensed Doha nursery.

The fire which began in a sporting goods store in Doha’s Villagio Mall had started, according to official statements, “due to faulty electrical wiring in a fluorescent light.”

All 19 people killed in the inferno on May 28 were foreigners, including two fire fighters, 13 children and four teachers.

Officially, the fire was not premeditated.

The Villagio mall blaze in May which killed 19 people in the Qatari capital. (Reuters)

However, leaked files reveal that the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad might have planned the Villagio blaze.

The leaked documents are highly-classified Syrian security files obtained by Al Arabiya from opposition sources.

The channel said that it has verified and authenticated hundreds of these documents and that it has decided to disclose ones with substantial news value and political relevance.

'Embarrassing Qatar'

A telegram from Syrian Major General Dhu al-Himma Shaleesh to the Syrian ambassador in Qatar, asking to find ways to ‘embarrass’ Qatar. (Al Arabiya Exclusive)

A telegram sent in February from the presidential palace in Damascus to the Syrian Embassy in Qatar unveils important information on the Syrian strategy to “embarrass” the Qatari state.

Syrian Major General Dhu al-Himma Shaleesh, head of the president’s Special Security force, wrote to the Syrian ambassador in Qatar, Hajem Ibraheem, requesting from him to serve “the supreme interests of the (Syrian) state.” Shaleesh informed the ambassador of the need to humiliate Qatar after its supposed role in supporting the Free Syrian Army, the country’s main armed opposition group.

A letter sent from Shaleesh to President Assad stating the Villagio Blaze mission was accomplished. (Al Arabiya Exclusive)

Shaleesh had requested from the Syrian ambassador in Qatar to provide him with suggestions on how Syria would proceed to implement its strategy and put the Gulf state in a critical situation to weaken its image and alter public opinion of the state.

A second highly secretive document dated June 2, also sent from Shaleesh but this time addressed personally to President Assad, acknowledges the “success” of the first operation aimed to destabilize Qatar and embarrass it in front of the world.

Shaleesh named the operation “Villagio blaze.”

Al Arabiya's exclusive series on the newly-leaked security documents continues tomorrow.

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