Habib Shartouni

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Habib Tanious Shartouni

Habib Tanious Shartouni (born April 24, 1958) (Arabic: حبيب الشرتوني‎) is known to be the assassin of the Lebanese president-elect Bachir Gemayel.[1]

Early life[edit]

Habib Tanious Shartouni, a Maronite, was born in a small village called Shartoun in Aley Mount Lebanon. In the early 1970s, only few years before the outbreak of the civil war, he was inspired and became affiliated with the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). When the Lebanese Civil War broke out, he volunteered to serve in one of the SSNP stations in Aley.[2]

Few months later, he was advised by his parents to flee from Lebanon to Cyprus then to France where he attended a university in Paris and obtained a degree in business. He had spent his first year in Paris away from politics, until the late summer of 1977 during which he officially joined the SSNP upon his first visit to Lebanon and became an active member ever since.[3]

Upon his return to France, he carried all the necessary contacts pertaining to the party's delegates in Paris and started attending some of their secret meetings, wherein he met Nabil Alam, the chief of interior of the party at the time. Alam made a significant impression on Shartouni, which paved the way for Bachir's assassination

Assassination of Gemayel[edit]

After completing his studies in Paris, he returned to Lebanon and became very close to Nabil Alam, who managed to convince him to carry out Bachir Gemayel's assassination, knowing that Shartouni used to live on the third floor of the building where the Kataeb headquarters was located.

Subsequently, he was advised by Alam to carry the explosives from his place in West Beirut to the other end in Achrafieh, in the eastern side of the city, above the Kataeb headquarters. After he had carried all the necessary explosives, he received the detonator from Alam and managed to carry it safely to his aunt's place in Achrafieh, few miles away from his place.

Shartouni had finally made up his mind to carry out the operation. On the night of September 13, 1982, he sneaked onto the second floor of the building housing the Kataeb Party Office in Achrafieh. His behavior did not arouse suspicion since he lived on the third floor of the same building with his sister and grandparents. He got into the room right above the platform on which Bachir and his companions would be seated and stashed about 40 to 50 kg of high explosives.

The next afternoon Shartouni stuck around the place, where Bachir was supposed to deliver a speech to greet his old companions, until he made sure Bachir had arrived. He walked out of the building and ran to the sector of Nasra, where he had kept the detonator. Ten minutes after Bachir had started his speech, Habib pressed the detonator. The sound of the explosion was heard all over Beirut. Right after the blast he walked back to the premises to check the result.

Arrest and imprisonment[edit]

Two days later Shartouni was arrested by the Lebanese Forces.[4] Stating with no regrets or fear, the 24-year-old Shartouni confessed at a press conference before being handed over to the Lebanese Justice by the Lebanese Forces, he called Bachir a traitor and accused him of selling the country to Israel. Shartouni confessed, "I was given the explosives and the fancy long-range electronic detonator in West Beirut’s Ras Beirut neighborhood by Nabil El Alam, Chief intelligence of the Party. "Alam" had close ties to the Syrian Intelligence Services and right after the assassination fled to Syria and vanished.

Shartouni was handed over to Lebanese justice. Amine Gemayel, Bachir's elder brother, succeeded him to the presidency seat right after his assassination. Habib had spent eight years in Roumieh prison without an official trial, until October 13, 1990 when he escaped during the final Syrian offensive in Lebanon that was aimed at wiping out the government headed by Michel Aoun.[5]

References[edit]