Middle East


War Stories

A gruesome tell-all biography of a former civil-war militia leader has sparked forceful denials, the book's banning, and a lawsuit against its exiled author, writes Youssef Diab in Beirut's independent Daily Star.

The book, From Israel to Damascus by exile Robert Hatem, details allegations of philandering, torture, assassination, and mass murder by former Lebanese Christian warlord Elie Hobeika, the militia leader notoriously associated with the massacres of Palestinians at Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in 1982. For example, Hatem, Hobeika's former bodyguard who is believed to be in France, claims that Hobeika ordered him to kill his baby daughter, who was born with a disability. Hatem also hints that Hobeika and his militiamen were behind the 1990 assassination of Christian militia leader Dany Chamoun and his family-a crime for which former Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and 11 others were convicted in 1995.

Lebanese authorities have banned distribution of the book, and Hobeika has initiated a lawsuit against the author, claiming that the allegations are fiction and the work of Israeli intelligence.