Following are excerpts from an interview with former Syrian minister of defense Mustafa Tlass, which aired on Russia Today TV on June 8, 2009.
Mustafa Tlass: This is a picture of Gina Lollobrigida, who is an old friend of mine. When she was asked who the love of her life was, she said: I have only one love in my life – General Mustafa Tlass. This is the wrist watch of the Israeli pilot whose plane we downed in 1974. The people who downed his plane were from my village of Al-Rastan. I went to get the Israeli pilot. They took his watch and gave it to me as a gift.
Interviewer: Did you take him captive, or was he dead?
Mustafa Tlass: He was dead. They hit the plan,e and he was killed. It was five minutes before the Israeli helicopter came. We beat them to it, and took him.
This is the submachine gun of Prince Charles, Diana's husband. I sent him a horse, and he sent me this submachine gun.
It is very expensive. Lady Diana said she would come here for $28 million. She said she would here for four days without Prince Charles. I didn't have that kind of money, of course, and I never will.
Interviewer: What was the background of all of this?
Mustafa Tlass: The arms deal with England. I was supposed to get $28 million out of this deal, and my colleague was supposed to get $28 million as well. So I said to them: Give the $28 million to Diana. I won't take the money.
Interviewer: You admired her that much?
Mustafa Tlass: Of course. She would send me letters through...
Interviewer: What was in the letters? Were they love letters?
Mustafa Tlass: The letters were full of love and appreciation.
This is the walking stick of Anwar Al-Sadat. He gave it to me as a present, mistakenly thinking he could win me over from President Hafez Al-Assad. Of course, I am not...
Interviewer: He wanted to buy you out so you'd stand against President Hafez Al-Assad?
Mustafa Tlass: Yes. I knew, of course, that in the past he had been a traitor, and there was no way I would shake hands with a traitor.
Interviewer: You took the stick from him?
Mustafa Tlass: Yes.
Interviewer: This is the stick he used to lean on when he was inspecting the army?
Mustafa Tlass: Yes.
Picks up an axe
The soldiers of the Soviet armored corps would always carry these. If they saw a tree, they would chop it, and take the watchamacallit... When I used to go places, I would put it here (puts the axe handle into his pants)... See it's gone.
Mustafa Tlass: If anyone so much as looks at my wife, I pull out the axe and whack him on the head. My wife says: If anyone looks at you, I will whack him too.
Interviewer (pointing to another axe): Is this a present from the U.S.S.R. as well?
Mustafa Tlass: Of course. Look, it says here "U.S.S.R." in letters of gold. This is from the U.S.S.R. too.
Picks up a spiked club
This was used by the Russian cavalry to smash heads with helmets. It would shatter the head along with the helmet. This is nice too. I got it as a present from Russia as well.