Chapter 12:

The Intelligence Infrastructure of Elias Houbeika.


Even Elie Hobeika’s father took advantage of his son’s rise to power. His father decided to move from the war stricken neighborhood of Gemeyzeh and built a one-story house in Adonis. The house had a sewing workshop for his wife, Badr Hobeika, and a single bedroom. They only needed a small house because Hobeika lived at Al Amn headquarters. Elie Hobeika’s father meet Elias Shartouni at Saint Gille Beach Compound where he used to go with a friend of his, René Kehdo Moawad, whose father Emile owned the place.

René Kehdo Moawad was a mercantile playboy who was married to a money-loving sex seeking beauty, Marijeanne Raymond Nashaty. Marijeanne Raymond Nashaty had a younger sister, Gina. Hobeika often met Gina at the Chalet. They fell in love. Gina, was just as pretty, sexy and money-loving as Marijeanne.

Their love story evolved over three months. Everyday I would pick Gina up at Pigier Technical School in Gemeyze. She was taking secretarial courses and I was to drive her to Hobeika’s office at Al Amn headquarters. During the visits, I became her “confident”. She shared her joys, fears and expectations with me.

As Hobeika became more involved with Gina he wanted to impress her by giving her a present. He bought her a brand new green Fiat127. Instead of appreciation, Gina flare up. She had expected a larger and more expensive vehicle to match her sister‘s. Her greed was revealed. That was a portion of things to come. The conflict blew over, and she and Hobeika were married three months later.

Elias Shartouni, who commanded the Sa’et El Abed Lebanese Forces barracks for Drugs and Arms, was rolling in money. He wanted favors from Hobeika. He offered to build a apartment for him on top of his mother’s workshop, furnish it luxuriously and deliver it key in hand. The explosive combination was all set. René wised him up, Shartouni showered him with money, and he had power.

A pompous wedding ceremony with a lavish military display was held at the Christ Roi Church. The Wedding Office was celebrated by Reverend Father Boulos Naaman, then head of the Maronite Monks Order, and Father Karam. A grand cocktail party followed at the ATCL Club in Kaslik. From there, the newlyweds left on a honeymoon trip to Israel with Rend K. Moawad aboard a military motor launch.

Upon his return from his honeymoon trip to Israel, he set out to expand and reorganize the Intelligence and Security Service. Hobeika planned to turn his command into an independent Bureau with sections which he partly entrusted to his loyal followers. He appointed Tony Araman as head of border security; Gaby Bustany, prisons and arrests; Emile Eid, investigations and questioning; Michel Zouein, security operations; Elias Shartuni, drugs and arms; Maroun Mashaalani, special operations; and, Paul Ariss, finance.

Headquarters was then situated behind the East Beirut Fire Brigade, in Poussy Massoud Ashkar’s barracks. With the new Organization, Hobeika chose to set up, in a separate building, also in Ashrafieh, the divisions of Intelligence, Security and Records which he placed under the command of Assad Shaftari and Pierre Rizk.

I, Robert Hatem, COBRA, was responsible for Hobeika’s own personal protection and security. As such, I was stronger and more powerful than all of them single or united.

Barely a few months after the AMN shuffle, with his notorious ambition, and reckless sense of grandeur, he reshaped the newly created Services and moved all them next to the War Council Headquarters in the Karantina, behind the Sleep Comfort furniture factory. Hobeika appointed himself Chief Commander and promoted Assad Shaftari as Assistant Commander. He entrusted Gaby Bustany with Prisons and Investigations, Mario Simonides with Foreign Intelligence, Joseph Asmar with Internal Intelligence, Michel Zouein with Operations, Paul Ariss with Finance, and Percy Kemp with Information and Media. He also created new divisions and appointed Gaby Eid, as Headquarters Security Chief, and Jessy Succar as the Chief Engineer. Elias Shartouni was kept at his post to deal with Drugs and Arms, in a separate Command post in Sa’et Al Abed/Nahr. From that time on, Hobeika, “quote H.K.” became a name that made all Eastern regions stand in awe and fear. Nothing could be done without his personal permission.

From what I personally saw and heard, as his shadow, I soon learned that Intelligence Services of many countries were astounded by his capacity at handling the situation in the 750 square kilometers of the Christian fiefdom. They got in touch with him for an exchange of services. The United States of America offered his assistants a 45-day training course at Langley, Virginia in the United States at the C.I.A. Base. He sent Gaby Bustany, Mario Simonides, Pierre Rizk and Jessy Succar. Pierre Rizk, the notorious “Akram”, out classed everyone. When he came home, proud and unbearably conceited, a considerable number of enemies were made by him. Rizk was extremely efficient but had his own personal style and would take orders from no one. Assad Shaftari hated and dreaded him and was closer to Hobeika, by his double dealing. Therefore, he managed to set Hobeika up against “palesnake”, as Akram was named just out of spite.

Pierre Rizk, however, was hard to uproot, but they had to have him out of the way, whatever the cost. They searched and schemed, and finally accused him of having embezzled 100,000 Lebanese pounds, hardly twenty-five hundred ($2,500) United States dollars from “the black safe”. This was an absurdly low amount but enough to kick him out of the Intelligence outfit.

It was at this period that one of the Commanders of Intelligence and Security Military Units, Louis Aoun, better known as “Oscar”, was killed in the Kessrouan town of Ghosta. Nobody ever knew the real reason behind this new deadly action. However, discussions though hushed, took place in my presence. Sabah, the famous Lebanese singer had a cocaine-addicted but gorgeous daughter, Houaida. She was at the same time Oscar’s mistress because he supplied her with the coke, and Shaftary’s mistress for the “money” he filled her with, Shaftary wanted exclusive rights.

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