Chapter 29:

Houbeika Masterminding the killing of Dany Chamoun.

By late afternoon, as I was supervising the inspection, I caught a Syrian military man peeping into a Samsonite attache case, half opened on Abou Rizk’s desk. At a glimpse, I evaluated its contents to about five million Lebanese pounds, in bills. I do not know why I went into a rage, but I ordered him to take his hands off. As he was about to attack me, and prevent me from grabbing it, I yelled that these were Brigadier Ali’s strict orders. He chickened out and I took the case and later handed it to Brigadier Ali in person.

From there we went down to the garage with all of the car keys. I had taken the keys from Michel Abou Rizk because I wanted to save innocent people cooped up in the underground garage. After inspecting the vehicles, I set off shuttling between Baabda and West Beirut to drive the stolen cars, and hide them a safe garage right across the street from Hobeika’s apartment building residence which also housed the Syrian Command headquarters. There were eight luxury limousines, most of them armored. They were later allotted as follows: 1) Aun’s armored navy blue BMW was given to Assaad Shaftari; an armored silver gray Mercedes was taken by Rudy Edward Barudy; an armored white Range Rover, and two armored American Blazers were handed over to the pro-Syrian Lebanese Army Commander General Emile Lahoud at the Bain Militaire, Raouche; two other regular Range Rovers went to Brigadier Ali; and, a gray BMW 528 went to Bourvil; Joseph Asmar took Fayez Karam’s black Mercedes. A customs officer at the Beirut Airport, Kamal Tannir, a Sunni Moslem, falsified the cars ownership certificates, which are in my possession.

The next day, at dawn, Hobeika returned from the French Embassy and we drove back to his West Beirut residence. The same morning, Hobeika asked me to prepare the explosives to blow up Aoun’s safe, which I did. However, when we arrived at the Baabda Palace, to do it, a few hours later, General Emile Lahoud, the Taef appointed army commander, had sent a Colonel to take care of the premises. He told us that it was the L.A.’s job to open the safe. I instantly contacted Brigadier Ali who confirmed that the Syrian command did not allow General Lahoud to get into Baabda Presidential Palace nor the Defense Ministry offices before 48 hours. I knew the delay gave the Syrians time to clear out the place and take whatever important documents they could find.

Hobeika, with Brigadier Ali’s permission, also asked me to move out and take to Zahleh all of the computers in the Palace. But when I stepped into the “room”, the dumb Syrian soldiers had, through a wrong maneuver, blown up the whole system and all of the computers were burnt down.

In the 48 hours that followed the Syrian assault, Hobeika and I also went to Kfarshima and the sector of Baabda where we found 200 Lebanese forces militiamen who had been arrested by Aoun. We liberated them and asked them to join us, but they refused and asked us to be allowed to go back to their families in the Geagea controlled areas.

It was then that I discovered the identity of the Lebanese Army officers killed in cold blood by the Syrians. The Commander of the Tenth Brigade was to blame. I had heard Syrian officers say that he was a dangerous “son-of-a-bitch” who must be eliminated. He was the officer who, despite Aoun’s cease fire orders, refused to abide by and surrender to the Syrians in Dahr el Wahsh. As a result many more died. In Dahr El Wahsh, Captain Pierre Tannous and 100 of his men, in Monte Verdeh, Lieutenant Serhal and his troops at the gates of El Hadath Church, Officer George Zohrob and four of his soldiers in Beit Merry, an entire battalion of the Tenth Brigade had been slaughtered.

It became obvious that there was not a butchery in Lebanon in which Elie Hobeika was not involved in some way. He maneuvered, and manipulated with one single objective in mind, his own selfish interests, never giving a damn about the people who followed him and counted on him. He never cared for anyone but himself. Maybe that was why the assassination of Dany Chamoun occurred.

Two days before NLP leader, Dany Chamoun and his family were slaughtered, Elie Hobeika asked me to go to his residence in Baabda, Shaheen Center and fix an appointment for him at Dany Chamoun’s own convenience. His old male secretary received me and told me that Chamoun was on the fourth floor and preferred to get down to see me with his lieutenant Bob, a war handicapped chap from Ayn Remaneh. Bob was very close to Dany.

Chamoun came down and I told him about Hobeika’s request. He agreed to receive him the next day at 10:00 a.m. I thanked him and left after scrutinizing the environment and counting the guards according to Hobeika’s firm instructions. There were only four guys, three at the entrance and one in the car.

I reported to this information to Hobeika, and as scheduled, we went to the meeting. Nicolas Halajian, Hajj, drove. Hobeika sat next to him on the front seat, while Bourvil, Fares Yussef Suidane and I sat in the rear in the Blue Mercedes we had stolen from Roger Tamraz. We arrived for the meeting which ended at 1:30 p.m.. Again we counted the guards and studied their positions. Nothing had changed. We returned to West Beirut.

The next morning I heard on the radio about the assassination of Dany Chamoun and all his family. It was 7:15 a.m. when I went to wake Hobeika and break the news to him. He asked me three times, “and his family too?”

He knew all along that Dany Chamoun and his family were to be killed because he had coordinated the plan with the Syrian Bureau in charge of political Assassinations “Maktab El Ightiyalat”.

I recall that Hobeika unusually spent the whole morning at home and only in the afternoon did he report to the Syrian Command headquarters. The headquarters was a six-story building in Ramlat El Bayda, behind the notorious Beaurivage and a few blocks from the Summerland Marina Hotel, and the temporary Seat of the Presidency.

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