2004-02-07 07:49:06 UTC
by Robert Maroun Hatem
It was during the siege of West Beirut that Bashir Gemayel decided to
open a hatch to West Beirutis for those persons who wanted to flee to
Tripoli (North Lebanon) or the Bekaa Valley. That was when the
Iranian diplomats were kidnapped and slaughtered, together with 230
Lebanese Shiat Moslem. It was 15 years ago when the crime was
committed. Two impenitent gamblers, Hobeika and Geagea, resorted to
their usual roundabout ways, and were now accusing Israel of detaining
them, and of seeking to exchange them for the Israeli pilot Ron Arad
reportedly held in an Iranian jail.
Whatever the transgressions, and evasiveness, four Iranians were dead
and buried under Eucalyptus trees cheek-by-jowl within the three-story
War Council building housing Intelligence and Security Headquarters.
Aboard the diplomatic car, as we later came to learn who were the
dead, were the Iranian charge d'affaires, Mohsen Moussawi, two
diplomats, Ahmad Kussliane and Kazem Anuan and the chauffeur, Taki
Around noon the convoy set out crossing the first checkpoint between
the two sectors of the capital. One hour later, they reached the
«Barbara» checkpoint, the border passage between the Christian sector
and the North, bolted by Samir Geagea, Commander of the Lebanese
Forces of the North and his iron disciplined military men. The convoy
was stopped, identities checked and the four men arrested. The
Internal security forces were ordered to leave after a sharp
A few hours after the Iranians had been taken into custody, Johnny
Abdo contacted Bashir Gemayel from the Army command in Yarze and
informed him that the Iranian diplomats had not reached their
destination. Their contact in Tripoli was anxious. No one knew their
whereabouts since their stopover at the Lebanese Forces Barbara
checkpoint. All Abdo offered to concerned advisors was a vague
answer which was the standard information given in such cases.
H.K. had the upper hand on every big or small operations in the
eastern regions. He was deputized by Bashir who was now busy with
politics. H.K. was now the Chief of Intelligence and Security, the
most important Division of the Lebanese Forces. H.K. used his
position to detain the four Iranians. Once in custody, Geagea
contacted H.K. at the Karantina Headquarters and asked him what he
should do with them. The answer was short, «Send them over».
Captain Raji Abdo was the liaison officer between Samir and H.K.
Captain Abdo was also the Chief of Intelligence and Security in the
North and the Lebanese Forces officer who held the four Iranians up,
questioned them and then personally escorted them, on orders from
Samir Geagea, to Central Intelligence Headquarters at the Karantina
(Mabna Al Amn), lying behind the Sleep Comfort Factory and Show Room.
There, Captain Abdo handed over the four arrested Iranians to H.K.
Over coffee, they discussed developments and internal affairs. Once
Captain Abdo's mission had been accomplished, I walked him to his car
and he drove back to his post at the Barbara Junction.
In 1986, George Sabbagh, also known as Abou Tony, and later as Abou
Ayman in Zahleh took over. Abou Tony was a tough, cruel and ruthless
fellow in charge of prisoners. He was the terrifying warden. He
interrogated them and applied his most sophisticated torture
techniques on them. George Yunes, alias Al Abouna, was the caterer
and in his spare time participated in the torture «sessions». «Al Amn»
jailhouse, barely 200 meters from the Amn Headquarters, held the Shia
Moslems and Iranian prisoners who all died under torture. During the
Israeli invasion of 1982, some 200 Shiat were buried in ditches dug
close to the Amn building. They were buried at the foot of eucalyptus
trees and covered with limestone to speed up the decomposition of the
cadavers and to eliminate nauseating smells.
After this incident, Stevie Nakkour, a very close friend of mine who
was in charge of logistics dealing with building and construction,
came up to me and told me in confidence that Paul Ariss pressed him to
clean out all the ditches because the Iranians were buried there and
it could trigger big trouble. The remains had to be dug up, carried
and re-buried in the area of Wadi Al Jamajem (Valley of Skulls) on the
road to Mazraat-Kfarzebiane and in the area of Maghawer near Ashkout.
Two other unidentified men, because they still live in Beirut under
wretched conditions, carried out the goolish mission with Nakkour.