Ali Makhlouf, the playboy cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has been spotted in Beverly Hills behind the wheel of a Ferrari Spider worth more than $300,000.
Makhlouf, in his early 20s, was filmed by Daniel Mac, who runs Instagram, TikTok and YouTube accounts dedicated to asking luxury car owners “what do you do for a living?”
Makhlouf and his passenger, who appears to closely resemble an Israeli model from Tel Aviv, were filmed sitting in the sports car in a video posted on YouTube earlier this month, despite Makhlouf’s father Rami – one of Syria’s richest men – being on multiple US sanctions lists for his role in financing the Assad regime.
After fumbling his response a few times after being asked what his job is, Makhlouf, who has more than 200,000 followers on Instagram, claimed to be an “intern” and said the sports car was rented, while the woman in the passenger seat smirked to the camera.
In 2008, the US Department of Treasury froze all of Rami Makhlouf’s American assets and made it illegal for any US based companies to do business with him or his network of companies, including Syriatel, the Syrian national phone carrier. This led to seizures of his accounts in Cyprus and Switzerland and left most US and European banks unable to conduct business with him. But that evidently hasn’t prevented his youngest son from partying in Los Angeles.
Ali and his brother Mohammed moved to Dubai in 2011 at the start of the Syrian revolution. Their father’s network of shell companies gave the regime critical access to hard currency it needed to wage war on its people but drew increasing sanctions and attention from financial regulators around the world. In 2019, Mohammed was briefly detained in Syria after outrage over his luxury influencer style posting forced Assad to take steps against the family’s wealth.
By 2020, Rami’s status as Bashar’s cousin and one of the richest men in Syria was no longer able to protect him from other members of Assad’s family, notably the president’s brother Maher and wife Asmaa, both of whom reportedly coveted his wealth as the Syrian economy continued to shrink after a decade of civil war.
In the video, Makhlouf appeared to be driving alongside an Israeli citizen in violation of Syrian law, which prohibits contact with any citizen of the “illegal Zionist enity to the south,” as Syria refers to Israel.
“It’s not going to be a legal problem for [her], I don’t think,” said a member of the Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic intelligence service, who cannot be named for security reasons. “But she might face some public relations backlash for palling around with the son of a man who has been responsible for funding the deaths of Israelis.”