Dell products shipped to Syrian warzone

Hardware maker Dell Inc has been left red faced after former Apple fanboy Syrian president Bashar al-Assad managed to buy shedloads of his gear, despite a UN embargo.

According to the New York Times until recently Assad would never have thought of using any gear other than Apple, because the easy to use interface made it simple to censor internet activity and track opponents.

In fact, no one ever thought Assad would move to PCs until large amounts of computer equipment from Dell were delivered.

Apparently they were sold to the Syrian government through a Dubai-based distributor despite strict trade sanctions intended to ban the selling of technology to the regime.

The Times has seen internal company e-mails, cash transfer statements, sales receipts and shipping documents, that show the Dell gear was sold by BDL Gulf, which is based in Saudi Arabia and is a large distributor of computer equipment in the Middle East. It is an authorised dealer for Dell in the Middle East and Africa.

Apparently BDL sold the equipment to Anas Hasoon Trading which is a Damascus-based company with contracts to provide computers to the Syrian government.

Jess Blackburn, a spokesperson for Dell in Round Rock, Tex., confirmed that BDL was an authorised reseller, but it just found out about a possible shipment of Dell equipment to Syria by an anonymous source.

Blackburn said that Dell was investigating the transaction as it requires its resellers to follow US trade requirements, just as Dell does. Resellers of Dell products and services are contractually prohibited from selling or shipping any technology to a customer in a restricted country.

The United States has barred the sales of most American-made goods to Syria for nearly a decade and has repeatedly tightened sanctions against the government.

BDL said the company had hundreds of customers and did not keep track of their locations. It did not know if they were from Pakistan, Egypt or Morocco, it just sells in Dubai.

However, the New York Times said that it has e-mails between BDL and a representative from Anas Hasoon Trading which indicate that the Syrian company made it clear to him that it was working on behalf of the Assad government. Several invoices were sent to a Syrian address for the trading company.

BDL sold hundreds of laptops, tablets and desktop computers to the Syrian company.