The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the hacker group Anonymous succeeded in penetrating a computer server belonging to Syrian President Bashar Assad, leaking hundreds of confidential files online Monday.
One document exposed by the hacker collective contained material Assad used to prepare for his December 2011 interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters.
The attack on the Syrian Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Haaretz wrote, happened Sunday night. Seventy-six email inboxes belonging to Assad’s personal aides and advisers were hacked using the password “12345.”
In his TV interview with Walters, Assad denied that his government was murdering Syrian citizens. “We don’t kill our people … no government in the world kills its people, unless it’s led by a crazy person,” Assad told Walters.
One document, prepared by Assad press attaché Sheherazad Jaafari, spelled out what the dictator could expect Walters to ask.
“The major points and dimensions that have been mentioned a lot in the American media,” Jaafari wrote, “are: The idea of violence has been one of the major subjects brought up in every article. They use the phrases ‘The Syrian government is killing its own people,’ ‘Tanks have been used in many cities,’ ‘Airplanes have been used to suppress the peaceful demonstrations,’ and ‘Security forces are criminals and bloody.’”
The “American psyche can be easily manipulated,” the media planning guide hinted, “when they hear that there are ‘mistakes’ done and now we are ‘fixing it.’”
Among her talking points for Assad’s interview, Jaafari recommended that Assad specifically talk about “torture” policy in the United States, citing the electric chair and Abu Ghraib in Iraq as examples.
She also advised Assad to prepare an explanation for his decision to bar foreign journalists from entering Syria. She said he should argue that “both Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya’s offices were open” early on, “but when they started to manipulate what is happening and ‘make up facts’, the Syrian government became more cautious about who will enter the country.”