Elie Hobeika

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Elie Hobeika
None.png
Full Name: Elie Hobeika
Alias: The Butcher of Sabra & Shatila
Origin: Kesrawan, Lebanon
Occupation: Leader of Lebanese Forces (1985-1986)
Goals: Killing the Palestinian people and Lebanese people in Sabra and Shatila.
Crimes: War crimes
Genocide
Torture
Mass murder
Crimes against humanity
Type of Villain: Warlord, War Criminal


'''Elie Hobeika''' (22 September 1956 – 24 January 2002; {{lang-ar| إيلي حبيقة}}) was a commander in the [[Lebanese Forces (militia)|Lebanese Forces militia]] during the [[Lebanese Civil War]] where he gained notoriety for his involvement in the [[Sabra and Shatila massacre]]. He became president of the [[Lebanese Forces|Lebanese Forces political party]] until [[January 1986 Lebanese Forces coup|he was ousted]] in 1986. He then founded the [[Promise Party]] and was elected to serve two terms in the [[Parliament of Lebanon]]. In January 2002, he was assassinated by a car bomb at his house in Beirut.

[[File:Lebanon January 2014 687.JPG|thumb|Picture of billboard, Brummana, Lebanon, advertising a church service in memory of Elie Hobeika.]]

Early life

Hobeika was born in [[Kleiat]] in [[Keserwan District]], [[Lebanon]], to a [[Maronite Christianity in Lebanon|Maronite]] family on 22 September 1956.<ref name=maher>{{cite news|last=Hassan|first=Maher|title=Politics and war of Elie Hobeika|url=http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/politics-and-war-elie-hobeika|accessdate=29 December 2012|newspaper=Egypt Independent|date=24 January 2010}}</ref><ref name=telegraph>{{cite news|title=Elie Hobeika|url=https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1382591/Elie-Hobeika.html|accessdate=29 December 2012|newspaper=The Telegraph|date=25 January 2002}}</ref> According to ''[[The Guardian]]'', he was deeply influenced by the deaths of much of his family and his fiancée by [[Palestinian people|Palestinian]] militiamen in the [[Damour massacre]] of 1976.<ref name="guardian_obit">[https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/jan/25/israelandthepalestinians.lebanon Mostyn, Trevor, The Guardian, 25 January 2002]</ref>

Lebanese Civil War

Hobeika distinguished himself as a ruthless fighter in the [[Lebanese Civil War]], gaining the nickname "HK" after the [[Heckler & Koch]]machine gun he carried.<ref name=meforum>{{cite journal|last=Gambill|first=Gary C.|author2=Bassam Endrawos|title=The Assassination of Elie Hobeika|journal=Middle East Intelligence Bulletin|date=January 2002|volume=4|issue=1|url=http://www.meforum.org/meib/articles/0201_l1.htm|accessdate=15 June 2012}}</ref> In July 1977, Hobeika, then only known under the pseudonym "Chef Edward", led a massacre against civilians and Palestinian militants in the south Lebanese village of [[Yarin]] where about 80 people of which probably 20 to 30 were civilians were lined up in front of the school and shot.<ref>{{Cite book|author=Tveit, Odd Karsten|authorlink=Odd Karsten Tveit|title=Nederlag. Israels krig i Libanon|year=1985|publisher=[[J.W. Cappelens Forlag|Cappelen]]|language= Norwegian|ISBN= 82-02-09346-5|pages=47&ndash;50}}</ref>

He steadily became prominent in the [[Kataeb Party|Phalange]], which had defeated rival Christian militias by July 1980 and incorporated them into the [[Lebanese Forces (militia)|Lebanese Forces]] (LF).<ref name=meforum/> In 1978, Hobeika became head of the LF's security agency (''Jihaz al-Amn''). He also became a personal bodyguard of [[Bachir Gemayel]].<ref name=telegraph/> In the years that followed, he developed close ties with both the Israeli military and the American [[Central Intelligence Agency]] (CIA).<ref name=meforum/>

During Israel's [[1982 Lebanon War|1982 invasion of Lebanon]], Hobeika was the liaison officer to [[Mossad]]. On 15 September, following the assassination of President-elect Bachir Gemayel the previous day, the Israeli army took over [[West Beirut]]. Minister of Defence [[Ariel Sharon]] and Chief of Staff General [[Raful Eitan]] had decided that the [[Israel Defense Forces]] (IDF) would not enter the Palestinian refugee camps but this task should be undertaken by Lebanese Christian militias. On the night of 16 September 1982, Hobeika, was on the top floor of the Israeli forward command post, when the first 150  militiamen entered [[Sabra and Shatila massacre|the Sabra and Shatila]] camps, which had been evacuated by the [[Palestine Liberation Organization]] (PLO) at the beginning of September. Two hours after the first Phalangist force entered Shatilla, one of the militiamen radioed Hobeika asking what to do with 50 women and children they had taken prisoner. Hobeika's response was overheard by an Israeli officer, who testified that Hobeika replied: "This is the last time you're going to ask me a question like that; you know exactly what to do." Other Phalangists on the roof started laughing. Brigadier General [[Amos Yaron]]asked Lieutenant Elul, Chef de Bureau of the Divisional Commander, what the laughter was about and Elul translated what Hobeika had said. Yaron then had a five-minute conversation, in English, with Hobeika. What was said is unknown.<ref>Kahan, pp. 21, 22</ref> Over the next three days, the LF killed between 762 and 3,500 residents of the camp.<ref name=meforum/> Until 1985, Hobeika sided with Israel.<ref name=thestimate>{{cite news|title=Who Killed Elie Hobeika? |url=http://www.theestimate.com/public/020802.html |accessdate=29 December 2012|newspaper=The Estimate |date=8 February 2002 |url-status=dead|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20080821102020/http://www.theestimate.com/public/020802.html |archivedate=21 August 2008 }}</ref>However, then he began to support Syria's presence in Lebanon.<ref name=thestimate/>

Hobeika was involved in another incident in March 1985. The CIA reportedly paid Hobeika (through Lebanese army intelligence officers) to assassinate [[Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah]], the spiritual leader of the militant Shi'ite group [[Hezbollah]], because Fadlallah was considered by US officials to have taken part in planning the [[1983 Beirut barracks bombing|October 1983 bombing]] of the US marine barracks in [[Beirut]], which killed 241 servicemen. However, the assassination attempt was unsuccessful in that the car bombing near Fadlallah's residence killed around 80 bystanders, but left Fadlallah unscathed. The massacre led the CIA to terminate its relationship with Hobeika and gave Hezbollah a lasting grudge against him.<ref name=meforum/> 

In December 1985, the various [[Christianity in Lebanon|Christian]] militias, the [[Shia Islam in Lebanon|Shiite]] [[Amal Movement]] and the [[Druze]] [[Progressive Socialist Party]] met in [[Damascus]] to reach an agreement on political reforms as well as special relations with Syria, called the [[Tripartite Accord (Lebanon)|Tripartite Accord]], which would also end the civil war. Hobeika was there in his capacity as president of the LF. However, on 15 January 1986, President [[Amine Gemayel]] and [[Samir Geagea]] organised [[January 1986 Lebanese Forces coup|a coup against Hobeika]], thus rendering the agreement null and void.<ref name="Krayem">[http://ddc.aub.edu.lb/projects/pspa/conflict-resolution.html Hassan Krayem, ''The Lebanese Civil War and the Taif Agreement'' American University of Beirut]</ref> Geagea was especially displeased that Hobeika had changed his allegiance to Syria.<ref name=telegraph/> 

After this event, Hobeika fled to Zahle and then to West Beirut.<ref name=maher/> He established a political movement there, the [[Promise Party]].<ref name=maher/> In 1990, his forces fought with the Syrian forces against General [[Michael Aoun]].<ref name=telegraph/> After the civil war ended following the [[Taif Agreement]], Hobeika benefited in 1991 from an amnesty for crimes committed during the war.<ref name=telegraph/>

In June 2001, [[Chibli Mallat]], a left-wing [[Maronite]] lawyer, filed a case against [[Ariel Sharon]] in Belgium under a law that allowed foreigners to be sued for [[crimes against humanity]]. Just before his death, Hobeika publicly declared his intention to testify against Sharon about his involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacres in the Belgian court. [[Josy Dubié]], a Belgian senator, was quoted as saying that Hobeika had told him several days before his death that he had "revelations" to disclose about the massacres and felt "threatened". When Dubié had asked him why he did not reveal all the facts he knew immediately, Hobeika is reported to have said: "I am saving them for the trial". At a news conference, he said, "I am very interested that the [Belgian] trial starts because my innocence is a core issue."<ref name="guardian_obit"/>

Political career

[[File:Hobeika.jpg|thumb|right|Poster, [[Aley]], January 2015]] As head of the Promise Party, Hobeika was elected to Parliament in 1992 and in 1996.<ref name=maher/> During his term in the Parliament, he served in several ministerial positions: Minister of State for Emigrants' Affairs (May 1992-October 1992); Minister of State for Social Affairs and the Handicapped (October 1992-September 1994) and Minister of Water Resources and Electricity (June 1993-December 1998).<ref name=maher/> When he was Minister of Water Resources and Electricity, massive power projects were constructed in [[Baddawi]] and [[Zahrani]], [[Zouk]] and [[Baalbeck]], and the size of the [[electrical grid]] was greatly increased, including the outlying areas still in turmoil with Israeli Forces in the south. However, progress was too slow compared to the massive increase the nation's power consumption, as few electrical projects were completed over 18 years of civil unrest.{{cn|date=January 2020}} In 2000, Hobeika lost his parliament seat,<ref name=profilebbc>{{cite news|title=Profile: Elie Hobeika|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1779321.stm|accessdate=29 December 2012|newspaper=BBC|date=24 January 2002}}</ref> due to active Syrian interference against him in the election.<ref name=yeh6sep>{{cite journal|last=Yehia|first=Ranwa|title=A lighter Syrian shadow|journal=Al Ahram|date=31 August – 6 September 2000|volume=497|url=http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2000/497/re4.htm|archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20021223092442/http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2000/497/re4.htm|url-status=dead|archive-date=2002-12-23|accessdate=15 April 2013 |df=dmy-all}}</ref> =Early life==
Hobeika was born in [[Kleiat]] in [[Keserwan District]], [[Lebanon]], to a [[Maronite Christianity in Lebanon|Maronite]] family on 22 September 1956.<ref name=maher>{{cite news|last=Hassan|first=Maher|title=Politics and war of Elie Hobeika|url=http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/politics-and-war-elie-hobeika|accessdate=29 December 2012|newspaper=Egypt Independent|date=24 January 2010}}</ref><ref name=telegraph>{{cite news|title=Elie Hobeika|url=https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1382591/Elie-Hobeika.html|accessdate=29 December 2012|newspaper=The Telegraph|date=25 January 2002}}</ref> According to ''[[The Guardian]]'', he was deeply influenced by the deaths of much of his family and his fiancée by [[Palestinian people|Palestinian]] militiamen in the [[Damour massacre]] of 1976.<ref name="guardian_obit">[https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/jan/25/israelandthepalestinians.lebanon Mostyn, Trevor, The Guardian, 25 January 2002]</ref>

== Lebanese Civil War ==
Hobeika distinguished himself as a ruthless fighter in the [[Lebanese Civil War]], gaining the nickname "HK" after the [[Heckler & Koch]]machine gun he carried.<ref name=meforum>{{cite journal|last=Gambill|first=Gary C.|author2=Bassam Endrawos|title=The Assassination of Elie Hobeika|journal=Middle East Intelligence Bulletin|date=January 2002|volume=4|issue=1|url=http://www.meforum.org/meib/articles/0201_l1.htm|accessdate=15 June 2012}}</ref> In July 1977, Hobeika, then only known under the pseudonym "Chef Edward", led a massacre against civilians and Palestinian militants in the south Lebanese village of [[Yarin]] where about 80 people of which probably 20 to 30 were civilians were lined up in front of the school and shot.<ref>{{Cite book|author=Tveit, Odd Karsten|authorlink=Odd Karsten Tveit|title=Nederlag. Israels krig i Libanon|year=1985|publisher=[[J.W. Cappelens Forlag|Cappelen]]|language= Norwegian|ISBN= 82-02-09346-5|pages=47&ndash;50}}</ref>

He steadily became prominent in the [[Kataeb Party|Phalange]], which had defeated rival Christian militias by July 1980 and incorporated them into the [[Lebanese Forces (militia)|Lebanese Forces]] (LF).<ref name=meforum/> In 1978, Hobeika became head of the LF's security agency (''Jihaz al-Amn''). He also became a personal bodyguard of [[Bachir Gemayel]].<ref name=telegraph/> In the years that followed, he developed close ties with both the Israeli military and the American [[Central Intelligence Agency]] (CIA).<ref name=meforum/>

During Israel's [[1982 Lebanon War|1982 invasion of Lebanon]], Hobeika was the liaison officer to [[Mossad]]. On 15 September, following the assassination of President-elect Bachir Gemayel the previous day, the Israeli army took over [[West Beirut]]. Minister of Defence [[Ariel Sharon]] and Chief of Staff General [[Raful Eitan]] had decided that the [[Israel Defense Forces]] (IDF) would not enter the Palestinian refugee camps but this task should be undertaken by Lebanese Christian militias. On the night of 16 September 1982, Hobeika, was on the top floor of the Israeli forward command post, when the first 150  militiamen entered [[Sabra and Shatila massacre|the Sabra and Shatila]] camps, which had been evacuated by the [[Palestine Liberation Organization]] (PLO) at the beginning of September. Two hours after the first Phalangist force entered Shatilla, one of the militiamen radioed Hobeika asking what to do with 50 women and children they had taken prisoner. Hobeika's response was overheard by an Israeli officer, who testified that Hobeika replied: "This is the last time you're going to ask me a question like that; you know exactly what to do." Other Phalangists on the roof started laughing. Brigadier General [[Amos Yaron]]asked Lieutenant Elul, Chef de Bureau of the Divisional Commander, what the laughter was about and Elul translated what Hobeika had said. Yaron then had a five-minute conversation, in English, with Hobeika. What was said is unknown.<ref>Kahan, pp. 21, 22</ref> Over the next three days, the LF killed between 762 and 3,500 residents of the camp.<ref name=meforum/> Until 1985, Hobeika sided with Israel.<ref name=thestimate>{{cite news|title=Who Killed Elie Hobeika? |url=http://www.theestimate.com/public/020802.html |accessdate=29 December 2012|newspaper=The Estimate |date=8 February 2002 |url-status=dead|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20080821102020/http://www.theestimate.com/public/020802.html |archivedate=21 August 2008 }}</ref>However, then he began to support Syria's presence in Lebanon.<ref name=thestimate/>

Hobeika was involved in another incident in March 1985. The CIA reportedly paid Hobeika (through Lebanese army intelligence officers) to assassinate [[Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah]], the spiritual leader of the militant Shi'ite group [[Hezbollah]], because Fadlallah was considered by US officials to have taken part in planning the [[1983 Beirut barracks bombing|October 1983 bombing]] of the US marine barracks in [[Beirut]], which killed 241 servicemen. However, the assassination attempt was unsuccessful in that the car bombing near Fadlallah's residence killed around 80 bystanders, but left Fadlallah unscathed. The massacre led the CIA to terminate its relationship with Hobeika and gave Hezbollah a lasting grudge against him.<ref name=meforum/> 

In December 1985, the various [[Christianity in Lebanon|Christian]] militias, the [[Shia Islam in Lebanon|Shiite]] [[Amal Movement]] and the [[Druze]] [[Progressive Socialist Party]] met in [[Damascus]] to reach an agreement on political reforms as well as special relations with Syria, called the [[Tripartite Accord (Lebanon)|Tripartite Accord]], which would also end the civil war. Hobeika was there in his capacity as president of the LF. However, on 15 January 1986, President [[Amine Gemayel]] and [[Samir Geagea]] organised [[January 1986 Lebanese Forces coup|a coup against Hobeika]], thus rendering the agreement null and void.<ref name="Krayem">[http://ddc.aub.edu.lb/projects/pspa/conflict-resolution.html Hassan Krayem, ''The Lebanese Civil War and the Taif Agreement'' American University of Beirut]</ref> Geagea was especially displeased that Hobeika had changed his allegiance to Syria.<ref name=telegraph/> 

After this event, Hobeika fled to Zahle and then to West Beirut.<ref name=maher/> He established a political movement there, the [[Promise Party]].<ref name=maher/> In 1990, his forces fought with the Syrian forces against General [[Michael Aoun]].<ref name=telegraph/> After the civil war ended following the [[Taif Agreement]], Hobeika benefited in 1991 from an amnesty for crimes committed during the war.<ref name=telegraph/>

In June 2001, [[Chibli Mallat]], a left-wing [[Maronite]] lawyer, filed a case against [[Ariel Sharon]] in Belgium under a law that allowed foreigners to be sued for [[crimes against humanity]]. Just before his death, Hobeika publicly declared his intention to testify against Sharon about his involvement in the Sabra and Shatila massacres in the Belgian court. [[Josy Dubié]], a Belgian senator, was quoted as saying that Hobeika had told him several days before his death that he had "revelations" to disclose about the massacres and felt "threatened". When Dubié had asked him why he did not reveal all the facts he knew immediately, Hobeika is reported to have said: "I am saving them for the trial". At a news conference, he said, "I am very interested that the [Belgian] trial starts because my innocence is a core issue."<ref name="guardian_obit"/>

==Political career==
[[File:Hobeika.jpg|thumb|right|Poster, [[Aley]], January 2015]]
As head of the Promise Party, Hobeika was elected to Parliament in 1992 and in 1996.<ref name=maher/> During his term in the Parliament, he served in several ministerial positions: Minister of State for Emigrants' Affairs (May 1992-October 1992); Minister of State for Social Affairs and the Handicapped (October 1992-September 1994) and Minister of Water Resources and Electricity (June 1993-December 1998).<ref name=maher/> When he was Minister of Water Resources and Electricity, massive power projects were constructed in [[Baddawi]] and [[Zahrani]], [[Zouk]] and [[Baalbeck]], and the size of the [[electrical grid]] was greatly increased, including the outlying areas still in turmoil with Israeli Forces in the south. However, progress was too slow compared to the massive increase the nation's power consumption, as few electrical projects were completed over 18 years of civil unrest.{{cn|date=January 2020}} In 2000, Hobeika lost his parliament seat,<ref name=profilebbc>{{cite news|title=Profile: Elie Hobeika|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1779321.stm|accessdate=29 December 2012|newspaper=BBC|date=24 January 2002}}</ref> due to active Syrian interference against him in the election.<ref name=yeh6sep>{{cite journal|last=Yehia|first=Ranwa|title=A lighter Syrian shadow|journal=Al Ahram|date=31 August – 6 September 2000|volume=497|url=http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2000/497/re4.htm|archive-url=https://web.archive.org/web/20021223092442/http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2000/497/re4.htm|url-status=dead|archive-date=2002-12-23|accessdate=15 April 2013 |df=dmy-all}}</ref>

==Personal life==
Hobeika married Gina Raymond Nachaty in 1981.<ref name=telegraph/> They had a daughter, who died in infancy, and a son, Joseph.<ref name=telegraph/><ref name="guardian_obit"/>

== Assassination ==
Hobeika was killed on 24 January 2002 at the age of 45 when a car bomb detonated near his house in the Beirut suburb of [[Hazmiyeh]].<ref name=guardian_obit/><ref name=lfor>{{cite web |title=Elie Hobeika Assassinated |url=http://www.lebaneseforces.com/hobeika.asp|publisher=Lebanese Forces |accessdate=15 June 2012 |url-status=dead|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20120626032323/http://www.lebaneseforces.com/hobeika.asp |archivedate=26 June 2012 }}</ref> The explosion killed three other people, including his two bodyguards, and wounded six more people.<ref name=tnyt02>{{cite news|last=MacFarquhar|first=Neil|title=Car Bomb Kills Figure in 1982 Lebanese Massacre|url=https://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/25/world/car-bomb-kills-figure-in-1982-lebanese-massacre.html|accessdate=7 July 2012|newspaper=The New York Times|date=25 January 2002}}</ref>

===Perpetrators===
A group, Lebanese for a Free and Independent Lebanon, issued a statement after the assassination, claiming responsibility for the killing of Hobeika.<ref name=alantt>{{cite news|last=Philps|first=Alan|title=Warlord killed in Beirut car bombing|url=https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/lebanon/1382678/Warlord-killed-in-Beirut-car-bombing.html|accessdate=26 January 2013|newspaper=The Telegraph|date=25 January 2002}}</ref> The group announced that it killed Hobeika, since he was a "Syrian agent" and an "effective tool" in the hands of [[Ghazi Kenaan]], the then head of Syrian military intelligence.<ref name=alantt/>

Lebanese and Arab commentators blamed Israel for the murder of Hobeika, with alleged Israeli motive that Hobeika would be "apparently poised to testify before the Belgian court about Sharon's role in the massacre".<ref name=Campagna>Joel Campagna,[http://www.worldpress.org/Mideast/460.cfm The Usual Suspects], ''World Press Review'', April 2002. Accessed 24 February 2006.</ref> Prior to his assassination, Elie Hobeika had stated: "I am very interested that the [Belgian] trial starts because my innocence is a core issue."<ref name="guardian_obit" />

Others have speculated that Syrian intelligence assassinated Hobeika, who had "specifically stated that he did not plan to identify Sharon as being responsible for Sabra and Shatila", to prevent him from testifying on Syria's involvement in the massacre.<ref>{{cite book|last1=Alexander|first1=Edward|last2=Bogdanor|first2=Paul|title=The Jewish Divide Over Israel|publisher=Transaction|year=2006|page=90}}</ref><ref>{{cite web|url=http://www.jcpa.org/art/brief1-17.htm|title=Elie Hobeika's Assassination: Covering up the Secrets of Sabra and Shatilla|publisher=Jerusalem Issues Brief|date=2002-01-30 |df=dmy-all}}</ref>