Houbeika recruits Lebanese Army Officers to Syrian Intelligence.
On January 31, 1990, around noon, fighting broke out. The action Aoun called the “Unification of Christian Arms”, was a return to Bashir and Safra, and what Geagea called the “War of Illumination”, “Harb el ilgha’”. Once more, and for the last time before the final pulling down of the Christian society, the Christian leaders came to arms unconcerned about the appalling outcome.
Coordination between Aoun and Hobeika resumed. Aoun needed an outlet. Hobeika needed a stool to climb higher with the Syrians. Jean Ghanem and Fayez Azzi served as link-ups. The General trusted Hobeika. He sent three L.A. Commando officers over to his house in West Beirut to spend the night before being taken over safely, in the morning, to Syrian controlled areas where they were permitted to photograph Lebanese Forces positions. The L.A. officers were conducted to West Beirut restricted areas giving Lebanese Forces military positions in Sodeco, Ashrafieh. They were even allowed into the mountain town of Dhour Choueir, the fiefdom of the pro-Syrian Syrian National Social Party, “SNSP”, to take photos of the “Doctor’s” stronghold of Kleiat in the Kessrouan.
Hobeika supplied Aoun with gasoline, fuel and 130mm shells. The L.A. had a shortage of this ammunition. The reason was because the ammunition depot was in Sarba Base and had been taken over by the “Doctor”. The irony was that Aoun was coordinating with the Syrians to destroy the Christian Lebanese Forces. Hobeika was mocking Aoun, intending to send him to the scaffold.
I remember how we crossed the Douar Crosspoint leading to Baabdat, where Colonel Shehab picked us up and conducted us to the Baabda Presidential bunker-palace for meetings with the General and his top Aids. We passed through the perilous Museum checkpoint often as Hobeika delivered messages from the Syrian command to Aoun with the intent to cause Aoun’s fall.
Strange as it may have seemed, Aoun trusted Hobeika and believed what he reported. I will always wonder how an all important Regular Army Commander-in-chief, assumed to be on the alert and distrustful, laid his life, and the life of the Christians who followed him, into the hands of such a ruthless and unscrupulous man as H.K..
Aoun was stabbed by his closest officers. Hobeika’s uncle, Brigadier George Hobeika, Commander of the Al Massaleh Barracks in Badaro, was the stronghold of Aoun’s army. George Hobeika passed logistic information off to the Syrians through Gaby Nassar who would sneak through a secret passageway known as the Sikket el Massaleh.
Jihad Shaheen, Lebanese Army Commander of the Commando Brigade was also recruited by Hobeika and betrayed Aoun. He gave us precious logistic information on Aoun’s strategic Roumieh Base and other vital information regarding Aoun’s actions. These detailed reports and map references were immediately handed over to the Syrian Troop Commander in Lebanon Brigadier Ali Deeb, and Syrian Intelligence Chief Ghazi Kanaan.
When Hobeika sent for one of his former lieutenants who had emigrated to the United States, Engineer Elias, a sharp artillery man, adjusted the pro-Syrian Palestinian guns based at the Camille Chamoun Stadium, El Medina el Riyadieh. Those guns pounded Aoun and Geagea’s zones and hit the targets without failing. Thanks to him, the Dora Fuel-Oil reservoirs, that supplied all of Beirut, were hit and burned uncontrolled for days. The fires screened the Capital with a compact black smoke which turned the days into nights.
Ibrahim Haddad known as “Bouba”, was Gina Hobeika’s private bodyguard and entertainer. Haddad brought a Milan missile battery from Zahleh which he used to destroy Aoun’s television Channel 5 antenna set up on the Rizk Tower. The Rizk Tower was unoccupied and was the tallest building in Ashrafieh. The antenna became not serviceable. Haddad was also instructed to blow up the Voice of Lebanon antenna and carried out his mission successfully.
The two opponents managed to resume broadcasting but with feeble means. Meanwhile, Elie Hobeika and I, along with Syrian Brigadier Ali kept watching military developments from the Al Murr Tower. We watched the area with a sophisticated Syrian army telescope.
Hobeika became obsessed with binoculars, field glasses and telescopes which I personally used to purchase for him from the United States and France.
Today, I look back shamefully at our ignominious conduct as we, Hobeika’s underdogs, would pick up vital information from our kins in the Christian sectors and then hand the information over to the Syrians. We did so while Hobeika paid honors to his masters, and dragged the Cause, Country and People in the mud.
Usually, after Hobeika’s meetings with Aoun or his top Aids, he would run off to his “Chief” Brigadier Ali Deeb. Ali Deeb had moved his headquarters from the airport road, to the southern suburbs of Musharrafieh into a deserted cinema theater. This location facilitated the Syrian advance after the final assault on General Michel Aoun, and helped to deliver the deadly blow to the Lebanese Christians.
Without a shred of doubt, the Syrians owed their sweeping victory of October 13, 1990, to the collaboration of Elie Hobeika, a Lebanese Maronite Christian, prompted by his greed for money, power and glory. We, his poor uncultured, uneducated, uncritical, but, loyal, devoted and adoring canon fodders, played into his hands not fully aware of our actions consequences. The rule was to betray in order to defend the rights of the Christians, obey “The Chief” and you are faithful and true to the Cross, Christ and the Holy Book.