Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Antoine Lahad 1927-2015

General Antoine Lahad, the former head of the South Lebanon Army (SLA), died already a few days ago in his Paris exile. A retired Maronite general of the Lebanese army from Southern Lebanon, he took over the command of the SLA in 1984 following Major Saad Haddad's death from cancer.
The SLA was for the most time of its existence widely perceived as nothing more than a proxy of Israel and even disliked by many members of the rightist Christian Kataeb and Lebanese Forces. During Lahad's command the secterian composition of the SLA changed from mostly Christian to a more diverse membership with many - often forcibly conscripted - Shiites and Druze within its ranks but the leadership remained mostly Christian. The SLA also operated the prison facility of Khiam, which was notorious for heavy torture. The most famous prisoner was Souha Bechara, who committed an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Lahad in 1988. Lahad was sentenced to death in absentia for murder and torture by a Lebanese court.

South Lebanon Army Commander Antoine Lahad Dies in Paris at 88
by Jack Khoury, Haaretz
Lahad graduated from the Lebanese Army Military Academy in 1952 and served in the Lebanese army. He was close to President Camille Chamoun. In 1989 he was badly injured in an assassination attempt carried by Souha Bechara, a young woman in the Lebanese Communist Party, which supported the Palestinian struggle and opposed Israel’s presence in southern Lebanon. 
Lahad recovered from his injuries but did not regain full functioning, even though he remained the nominal commander of the SLA. In practice he was replaced by Col. Akl Hachem, who was assassinated by Hezbollah in January 2000, an incident that marked the beginning of the SLA’s dissolution.
Not being present during the collapse of the Israeli "security zone" in 2000, General Hummus, as he was nicknamed in Israel, opened a Lebanese restaurant in Tel Aviv and published his memories in Hebrew. Later he moved to France where he died.

Interview with Lahad from 2007 by Israeli online paper Y-Net

In the meanwhile a controversy arose in Lebanon, whether Lahad should be allowed to be buried in his Lebanese home village, the chances are not good...

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