Chapter 11:

HK creates three elite forces.

Karim Pakraduni, Bashir’s close political adviser, is one of the rare Armenians to take an active part in the Lebanese war. He and Nazo, Nazir Najarian, a Kataeb Party military commander who had led Kataeb troops in the downtown area of Beirut, Al Assouak, were instrumental in the Lebanese war. In the beginning, Nazo was a decent guy who never accepted the predatory instincts of the Lebanese military chiefs. However, he too did nothing to stop the looting of the ports and watched as $700 million United States dollars were stolen. Nazo was quoted as telling the boys down on the front, “We must resist material temptation. If we become corrupt, we will lose the war. We will be submerged and liquidated, not just here in Lebanon, but as Christians throughout the Middle East!” Nazo during the two-year war carried and expressed our dreams for a strong Christian presence in Lebanon.

After Nazo’s brother was killed on the front and Nazo was appointed as Commander of the Eastern Saidon area. He too began filling his pockets and paved the ground for the fall of this area and the massive Christian depopulation from this part of Lebanon.

Contrary to Nazo character, who was once a pure and idealistic field man, totally and whole heartedly devoted to the Christian “Cause”, Karim Pakraduni was strictly a clever politician and a manipulator. From the beginning of his involvement with the Kataeb Party, Pakraduni promoted his own personal interests. Pakraduni always operated in the shadows.

Although an active Kataeb Party member since his early days, Pakraduni simply could not pocket what he called “the hegemony” of the Party’s founder and President Sheikh Pierre Gemayel and tacitly of his two sons, Bashir and Amin. Pakraduni admitted it in one of his books. Sheikh Pierre, the Rock, remained the rock indeed, to the end of his life, even after the heaviest blow a man can take, Bashir’s violent death, at the peak of his glory.

After Bashir’s assassination, Pakraduni intuitively and cleverly sided and backed the “strong” man of the moment Elie Hobeika. Pakraduni found Hobeika ambitious, ruthless and underhanded. Pakraduni enjoyed the love and admiration of the Kataeb Party leaders, including Sheikh Pierre and Bashir. He enjoyed the admiration of the power base that only sought his approbation and marks of favor.

Hobeika held an iron grip on the Kataeb Party’s Intelligence Service and Security Affairs. He was a full timer, apparently loyal, and devoted to the Family, the Kataeb Party and the Christian “Cause”. The Kataeb Party, with all its might and supremacy, committed itself to his “care”, and he simmered his way up undisturbed, striking secret alliances and luring supporters blindly devoted to him into believing in him and following in his footsteps. In the end, he double-crossed everybody, friends, foes, allies, and supporters!

Hobeika is a middle-class maronite townsman. Though born in his mountain village of the Kessrouan, he grew up in the Ashrafieh neighborhood of Gemeyzeh close to Marty’s Square, Sahet Al Shohada. In 1975, when the war broke out, he quit school, joined the Kataeb party and carried arms. He was soon admitted in the “Bejin” Group, close to Bashir, under the command of Sami Khouery and George Ferides. Although he was not in the lineage of the “clan” of college-educated high society boys, such as Fuad Abou Nader, Fadi Frem, Poussy (Massoud) Ashkar, Elias Zayek, Toni Kessrouani, Sami Khouery, Gaby and Jo Tutunji, Hobeika forced himself into the elite circle and commanded attention, because he out shone them.

Tough, ruthless, secret, and a strong supporter of muscular ways, he threw himself headlong in every front-line and killing ground. He participated in every bloody and savage deed, mayhem and maelstorm, starting with the December 6, 1975, Black Saturday massacre of Moslems staged by Jo Saade.

After the two-year war, his assignment to South Lebanon and Israel and his return to Beirut, the Kataeb Party assigned him to the Sin-el-Fil branch of the Libano-Brazilian Bank as a ghost-office boy. The branch manager was a prominent Kataeb Party member, Mr. Kahaleh. However, with the succession of military and security events, he was called back and appointed chief of Military Affairs and Third Bureau Operations and hardly ever showed up at the Bank. Since then, he got his salary check regularly until 1982, a check which I personally picked up for him for years.

It was Hobeika who created the three Elite Force Units for operations under the command of his most loyal hardline followers: Maroun Mashaalani; Joseph el Hajj, known as Abou Halka; and, George Melco. By then, Hobeika had it made.

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