[8/15/17] Among the postings on what might have been the Facebook page of James Alex Fields Jr., the driver of the car that killed a counterprotester at the right-wing demonstrations in Charlottesville on Saturday, were images of far-right favorite Pepe the Frog, swastikas and a baby portrait of Adolf Hitler, according to BuzzFeed.
Perhaps more surprisingly, there also reportedly was a picture of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, in full military uniform, inscribed underneath with the word “undefeated.”
Screen shots of the now-inaccessible profile were widely circulated on social media Saturday and Sunday, although the account’s authenticity could not be confirmed. But the apparent fascination with Assad would fit a more general link between the far right and the Syrian regime that has grown increasingly pronounced in recent months and played a role throughout the weekend’s white nationalist rally in Virginia.
Assad’s politics — and those of his father before him — have historically been associated more with the left than the right. His late father, President Hafez al-Assad, was the closest Middle East ally of the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. The son has enjoyed the stalwart support of international leftists throughout his attempt to crush the six-year-old rebellion against his rule.
In recent months, however, Assad has also become an icon for the far right, whose leaders and spokesman have heaped praise on the ferocity with which he has prosecuted the civil war, his role in fighting the Islamic State and his perceived stance against Muslims and Jews.
That Assad’s harsh methods have resulted in tens of thousands of civilian casualties seems only to have enhanced his stature. In a video posted on Twitter, three men who participated in the Charlottesville protests hailed Assad’s use of barrel bombs to subdue communities that turned against him. One is wearing a T-shirt that says: “Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.”
Barrel bombs are crude, cheaply made explosive devices that are tipped out of aircraft without any form of targeting, and their use has killed thousands of civilians in Syria.
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In the streamed live video, the men defend Assad.
“Assad did nothing wrong,” said alt-right social-media activist Tim Gionet, who is also known as “Baked Alaska” on Twitter and YouTube.
“Barrel bombs, hell yeah,” he can be heard saying in the same video.