Chapter 32:

The Baby Victim.

Despite his colossal wealth, in Lebanon, Switzerland and the United States, Elie Hobeika keeps his extortion system going. He has never purchased a house or a piece of land with his money. All is acquired by intimidation or surrendered as a bribe.

His first newly-wed apartment was a present from Elias Chartouni. However, trouble soon broke out between his wife Gina Raymond Narchaty and his mother Badr Rif-Hobeika. It reached a peak when the couple had their first baby, a girl named Sabine. He decided he should have some peace of mind away from female bickering. Once again, Elias Chartouni paid half the price of his new apartment on the sixth floor of the Chatilla Building behind the Equinox Club. Chartouni who was then dumped like a cheap dog. No sooner was he settled than he wanted to move. He went to Junieh.

There, his life was marked by a tragic event. His lovely 18-month-old daughter, Sabine, fell ill. She ran a very high temperature. His mother and wife blamed each other leaving the baby by herself. For lack of care and attention, the temperature kept rising and she had to be rushed to the Greek Orthodox Hospital in Ashrafieh. Soon she was totally paralyzed, but apparently conscious and in terrible pain.

The consulting physician, Professor Ernest Majdalani gave up hope of saving the agonizing little girl maintained alive by needles and tubes covering her frail and tiny body. Hobeika’s agony was even greater and he expressed it in fits of fury. He kept praying for her relief and death. One day after a terrible fight between Gina and her mother-in-law, in at hospital, Hobeika went out of his mind, took me aside and told me to put an end to this mess and take care of the baby to stop her suffering. I did. With a dreadful pang, I practiced euthanasia, the sinful act banned by Christianity. Ever since then, I live with the ordeal which, I’m aware, I will never be able to tear out of my conscience.

René Moawad, Touma Suidane and Zouheir Saleh knew about the baby girl’s appalling story. Rudy Boudy learned about it when we were stationed in Zahleh. After this ignominious, tragic and unethical event Hobeika made up with Gina.They moved to a new and larger flat in Kfar Habab with Mario Simonides as his first floor neighbor. It was then that they had their only son, Joseph.

After his first “Intifada” against the Kataeb Party and Amin Gemayel he felt insecure because the apartment building where he lived, lay under the security of Ghazir, that is Elias and Joseph El Zayek’s Unit. He moved again to Adma to be close to his brother-in-law René Moawad. He bought the apartment with the Lebanese forces money and supplied an apartment to Assaad Shaftari on the second floor of the same building to keep an eye on him.

I recall his fight with Paul Ariss over this money and over an 11,750m plot of land in Byblos (Jbeil) belonging to the Kataeb and seized by the Lebanese Forces. They also fought over the building housing the Lebanese Forces National Fund Offices in Ashrafieh close to Karim Pakraduni’s residence. Hobeika intended to use the building for his new Al Wa’ad Party. At the end of his ropes, Hobeika asked me to exert pressure on Ariss so that he would lay off the money in favor of Gina. I took his vehicle to the car registration office in Dekuaneh and blew it up. Ariss gave in. The transaction was concluded.

Hobeika’s squabbles with Assaad Shaftari go back to the period of Zahleh. Shaftari had been constantly cheated by Hobeika, Fadi Saroufim and Paul Ariss. They had shares in the Khoury Hospital in Zahleh. They sold out and would not split the money with him. The Al Mashrek Television, financed by Roger Tamraz and ran by MP Zaher El Khatib’s brother Rabih, was sold for $450,000 United States dollars. He wanted his share and was turned down flatly. Shaftari wanted the Hesbolla’s archives to sell to an unknown party. Fadi Saroufim key-moneyed the apartments the Syrians had given us to their rightful owners, even Shaftari’s flat. Hobeika sent him to get the $50,000 United States dollars to make sure Shaftari was sacked. He did likewise with Hobeika’s headquarters in Zahleh for $75,000 United States dollars and Shaftari was again left out. Saroufim collected the money and once again Shaftari was creased. He realized that he was Hobeika’s victim. He was ejected and could do nothing about it. To avoid getting bumped off, he decided to give up and stand aside. Hobeika, was satisfied because he did not wanted anyone with guts near him. Fadi Saroufim and Jean Ghanem would do perfectly. They were the ideal crawlers for Hobeika’s power point is to keep around him men who would stoop to better control them. He believes that if their bellies are filled, he could humiliate them enough to have hold on them.

Hobeika breathed. He was running the Electric and Hydraulic Resources Ministry. The 10 percent period began in all safety. He boldly expanded his “business”. He began by purchasing an 750-square meter house with a loft in Hazmieh for two million United States dollars. The purchase price included the cost for interior decoration. No sooner had Hobeika taken possession of the residence, a fire broke out in the television room which extended to the rest of the house. I cannot tell for sure whether it was another of his insurance stunts or not.

Hobeika also owns two mountain cottages in Faraya worth $300,000 United States dollars each, and a Chalet in the Halate Marina Beach compound. The chalet was mortgaged by the Al Mashrek. Mike Nassar paid off the two million United States dollar loan and offered the chalet to Hobeika. Gina paid $300,000 United States dollars just to redecorate it.

Hobeika also owns a water jet ski company which is in his son’s name. The legal title names Joseph Hobeika, in association with Jo Sfeir as owners of the company. Mike Nassar paid $400,000 United States dollars cash for his partnership. The multi-millionaire dentist, Mike Nassar, who has fled to Brazil, is from the Chouf town of Kfar Katra, cheek by jaw to Deir Al Kamar. Nassar is related to Colonel Antoine Lahad, Commander of the South Lebanon army. He had participated with Samir Geagea’s forces in the “ War of the Mountain” and had quit or was evicted.

Nassar made a fortune when he moved to the Israeli occupied security strip in South Lebanon. Nassar went into import/export business shipping fruits, vegetables, cigarettes and weapons to Romania. He purchased President Camille Chamoun’s palace in Deir Al Kamar. He also purchased $25 million dollars worth of Soldier Bonds, thus becoming the third shareholder after Rafik Hariri and Nabil Bustany.

Mike Nassar contacted me through one of his “Hit-Team” boys. He wanted me to open a channel for him with Elie Hobeika, by now the Displaced People’s Minister. The greedy and shrewd Hobeika suspected the golden egg hen, but he wanted proof of Nassar’s good will, money. Hobeika sent me to Nassar with a clear message, payment of $25 thousand United States dollars, for the “boy‘s” monthly salary. Nassar paid cash, instantly. I gave the full amount to Hobeika and we never saw a dime.

The payments were made for three months. Nassar then decided to travel and gave me his phone numbers in France and Switzerland to pass on to Hobeika. No sooner was he gone than Hobeika flew to met Nassar and when he returned from his trip he told me, “Mike is mine. I want nobody to get to him”. As if he were talking about a pet animal or a slave, he succeeded in extracting $10 to $15 million dollars from Nassar.

The last time I saw Nassar was around the beginning of 1997, after his unsuccessful attempt at the 1996 Legislative Elections and before he “emigrated” to Brazil when Walid Jumblat threatened to kill him if he did not stand down from Arslan’s list of candidates. On one of his visits to Beirut, I picked him up, as usual, from the airport and drove him to his Badaro residence. The next day, Hobeika decided to take him to Damascus for a meeting with Abdul Halim Khaddam, as some kind of intimidation and show of power. For the first time since I had become Hobeika’s shadow, I was asked not to go in the car with them. After their return, Fadi Saroufim, “the small Minister” as Hobeika now calls him, and René Moawad, were introduced to Mike Nassar to carry out the rest of the “job”.

Another of Hobeika’s costly hobbies is the collection of luxury vehicles. The only car he has ever bought is a brand new Jaguar, registered in his wife Gina’s name. He paid monthly installments, just to show that he was a righteous citizen. The rest of his vehicles were presents: a jeep Hamer Ziad Ghandour offered him; an Astin Martin, a gift from his mistress Randa Zakka; a 1981 model falsified in registration to a 1986 brand, passed on to René Moawad; a Jeep Cherokee from Mike Nassar; and, Rudy Barudy gave him Johnny Abdo’s stolen armored black Mercedes.

He has a luxury three million dollar Magnum Yacht anchored at the ATCL, Kaslik. He owns land in the Matn town of Baskinta Shabrouh where a huge Hydraulic Power Dam is under construction. He plans to convert it into a tourist complex. He possesses a 11,000-meter piece of land in Fat’a Adma, now worth a million and registered under N. 245, as well as 5,000 meters in the ski resort of Faraya Mzar worth millions of dollars.

Now a billionaire, Hobeika is partner in a joint computer company in San Francisco, California in the United States. He is a partner with Tony Zoghbi in this company.

Each of his “boys” receives a monthly salary of four hundred United States dollars. Hobeika does not concern himself with us nor our loyalty. How does he expect us to take it, lying down and slowly dying? Having no means to rent a flat, send our kids to school, eat our fill or get proper health care? No wonder the rate of suicide is, for the first time in the history of Lebanon, so incredibly high, when this small country has always had the highest standard of living, even during the darkest days of the war.

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