Open main menu

The Ehden massacre (Arabic: مجزرة إهدن‎) took place on 13 June 1978, part of the 1975–1990 Lebanese Civil War. It was an inter-Christian attack that occurred between the Maronite clans.[1][2] A Phalangist squad attacked the mansion of the Frangieh family in an attempt to capture Ehden, killing nearly 40 people including Tony Frangieh, his spouse and his three-year old baby, Jihane.[3][4] After the massacre, the power of the Frangiehs is reported to have declined.[5]

Ehden massacre
مجزرة إهدن
Part of the Lebanese Civil War
LocationEhden, Lebanon
Coordinates34°18′30″N 35°58′0″E / 34.30833°N 35.96667°E / 34.30833; 35.96667Coordinates: 34°18′30″N 35°58′0″E / 34.30833°N 35.96667°E / 34.30833; 35.96667
Date13 June 1978
4 am (GMT+2)
TargetFrangieh family
Attack type
Deathsapproximately forty people
PerpetratorsLebanese Phalanges Party
MotivePolitical rivalry, the murder of the Phalange leader, Joud Al Bayeh, and suspicion of collaboration by Suleiman Franjieh's Marada Brigade with the Syrian government.


At the initial phase of the Lebanese civil war, more specifically in the summer of 1976, the major Maronite leaders formed the Lebanese Front, institutionalizing their cooperation.[6] However, the relations between members of the Lebanese Front damaged in May 1978 due to Suleiman Frangieh's pro-Syrian position and his intention to leave the Front.[7] Eventually Frangieh left the alliance later in 1978.[8]

On the other hand, at the initial stage of the civil war, Frangieh had to call on the Phalange for assistance in the north of Lebanon where before the war the Phalange had not had any power, especially in Zgharta, Frangieh's home town. Beginning in 1978, the Phalange had become a major force in the region, picking up recruits and threatening Marada's protection rackets, especially around Chekka. Marada was the militia commanded by Suleiman Frengieh's son Tony and the local force of the region.[7]

In 1978 Spring, the Frangieh family asked the Phalange to leave the region. In fact, the Phalange were losing power there. All attempts to reconcile the two groups at Bkerke were unsuccessful. In May 1978, Suleiman Frangieh began not attending the Lebanese Front meetings and instead, developed close relations with the Syrians. The Frangieh family had aligned with Syria through personal relationships between Suleiman Frangieh and the Syrian President Hafez Assad, and between Tony Frangieh and Assad’s younger brother Rifaat Assad.[9] Furthermore, the Phalangists are reported to have preferred Lebanon’s partition, while the Frangiehs to have wished to keep it whole.[10] Therefore, it is argued that the Frangieh-Gemayel rivalry had initially been a purely political feud, and it was the only motive of the massacre.[10][11]

In addition, the critical event or trigger for the massacre was the assassination of a local Phalange leader and commander, Joud Al Bayeh, by six armed men sent by Tony Frangieh on 8 June 1978.[12][13] Bayeh had attempted to open an office in Zgharta before he was killed.[14] Bashir Gemayel initially tried to settle the problem through negotiations via Maronite Patriarch Antonios Khreich. But, these negotiations did not become productive. Gemayel then decided to retaliate with a reprisal raid deep into Frangieh's mansion in Ehden.[15] The original plan was to arrest those who had murdered Al Bayeh. It was known that they had been hiding in Frangieh's summer residence in Ehden.[15]


On 13 June 1978 at 4am, hundreds of Gemayel’s Phalangist gunmen attacked the mansion of Frangieh family in Ehden, and murdered Tony Frangieh, his wife Vera Frangieh (née el Kordahi), their three-year-old daughter Jihane, and thirty other Marada bodyguards and aides, who were at the mansion.[16][17][18][19] Tony Frangieh was the eldest son of the former Lebanon President Sulaiman Frangieh[3] and scion of one of the most powerful northern Maronite clans.[20] He was at 36 age when killed.[21]

Those in the mansion refused to surrender and a long gun battle ensued in which Samir Geagea was seriously injured and fell unconscious on the road leading to the compound. The operation was successful from a military standpoint, but when Gemayel's men entered the mansion, they unexpectedly recognised among the dead Tony Franjieh and several members of his family.[15] The Marada members were killed while trying to defend the mansion.[22] "Even the family dog did not escape the carnage of that day."[11] Tony's father Suleiman Frangieh claimed that the Phalangist gunmen forced Tony and his young wife Vera to watch the shooting of their infant daughter Jihane, then made him watch the murder of his wife, before killing him.[23][24] More than ten phalangist gunmen were also killed in the attack.[25]

Tony Frangieh's son, Suleiman Frangieh Jr., escaped the massacre. He was not with his family in Ehden at that time.[26]


One of the Phalange forces attacked the mansion was led by then 26-year-old Samir Geagea.[27][28][29] Geagea's hometown was traditionally at odds with the Frangiehs.[15] It was further claimed that the other squad was led by Elie Hobeika.[23][25]


On 14 July 1978, a funeral ceremony was organized for the victims in Zagharta.[30] Syrian troops stormed a village, Deir el Ahmar, nearly 15.5 miles southeast of Ehden to search for the perpetrators on the same day.[13] Marada forces also carried out a series of revenge killings and kidnappings.[25] In the period following the killings Phalange members in the area were displaced and nearly 100 of them were killed.[31]

Responses to allegationsEdit

The Marada Movement, headed by Suleiman Frangieh Jr., accuses the Lebanese Forces of carrying out the Ehden massacre.[32] Bashir Gemayel argued that the massacre was a "social revolt against feudalism."[14] In addition, the Phalangist Party declared that its forces carried out the attack since the Marada forces did not surrender the killers of the Phalangist leader.[13]

Samir Geagea who allegedly headed the Phalangist force responsible for the Ehden massacre admitted that he was among the "military squad" that was in charge of the Ehden "operation", but he denied taking part in the massacre, claiming that he was shot before the incident.[33][34]

Investigation and arrestsEdit

Hanna Shallita was arrested during a 1994 government crackdown on Samir Geagea's Lebanese Forces, who was accused of staging the Ehden massacre. Shallita was set free after paying an LL5 million bail in August 2002.[35] However, no official investigation was ever made to find out who killed the Frangieh family and others,[36] although the file was reopened in 2002.[37] Thus, killers have not been officially identified.[38] On the other hand, when the file was reopened in 2002, Suleiman Frangieh Jr., son of Tony Frangieh, criticised the move, arguing that its aim was to show him manipulation of his slain family's blood for political ends.[39] He further stated "the affair is a bygone for me, buried in the past."[39]

Scholarly viewsEdit

The travel writer and historian William Dalrymple reaches the conclusion that the Ehden massacre was remarkable and revealed more clearly than anything the medieval feudal reality behind the civilized twentieth-century veneer of Lebanese politics.[10]

Related publicationsEdit

French journalist, Richard Labeviere published a book entitled The Ehden Massacre. The Curse of Arab Christians (2009). The book provides alleged details of how Samir Geagea, the chief of the Lebanese Forces party, was chosen in 1978 by Mossad to execute the Ehden massacre.[40]


  1. ^ Sune Haugbolle (25 October 2011). "The historiography and the memory of the Lebanese civil war" (PDF). Mass Violence. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  2. ^ N. Kliot (January 1987). "The Collapse of the Lebanese State". Middle Eastern Studies. 23 (1): 54–74. doi:10.1080/00263208708700688. JSTOR 4283154.
  3. ^ a b "Six major leaders killed in Lebanon since 1943". The Telegraph. 2 June 1987. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  4. ^ Muhamad Mugraby (July 2008). "The syndrome of one-time exceptions and the drive to establish the proposed Hariri court". Mediterranean Politics. 13 (2): 171–194. doi:10.1080/13629390802127513. Pdf. Archived 12 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Suleiman Franjiyah". Wars of Lebanon. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  6. ^ Itamar Rabinovich (1985). The War for Lebanon, 1970-1985. Cornell University Press. p. 60. ISBN 978-0-8014-9313-3. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  7. ^ a b Edgar O'Ballance (15 December 1998). Civil War in Lebanon, 1975-92. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-312-21593-4. Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  8. ^ "New Beirut chief has fiery past". The Milwaukee Journal. 24 August 1982. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  9. ^ Glass, Charles (1 March 2007). "The lord of no man's land: A guided tour through Lebanon's ceaseless war". Harper's Magazine. Archived from the original on 8 February 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  10. ^ a b c Stathis N. Kalyvas (September 2003). "The Ontology of "Political Violence: Action and Identity in Civil Wars" (PDF). Perspectives on Politics. 1 (2): 475–494. doi:10.1017/s1537592703000355. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  11. ^ a b Nisan, Mordechai (Spring 2011). "Of Wars and Woes. A Chronicle of Lebanese Violence". The Levantine Review. 1 (1). Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  12. ^ David S. Sorenson (12 November 2009). Global Security Watch—Lebanon: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-313-36579-9. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  13. ^ a b c "Syrian storm town in search". Daily News. Beirut. AP. 14 June 1978. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  14. ^ a b "Lebanon's Christians". The Montreal Gazette. 22 September 1982. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  15. ^ a b c d Ziad K. Abdelnour (31 May 2004). "Dossier: Samir Geagea". Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. 6 (5). Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  16. ^ "La Bévière: Mossad Chose Geagea for Ehden Massacre". Al Manar TV. 5 January 2009. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  17. ^ Antoine Amrieh (15 June 2010). "Remembrance mass held in Ehden for Frangieh". The Daily Star. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  18. ^ "1978: Lebanon". As they saw it. Retrieved 15 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ Eric Pace (24 July 1992). "Suleiman Franjieh, Lebanese Ex-Chief, Dies at 82". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
  20. ^ Jim Muir (22 June 2005). "Lebanon's search for 'irrelevance'". BBC. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  21. ^ "Assassinations in Lebanon: A History (1970s to the Present)". 24 May 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  22. ^ "Feuds rampant in Lebanon". The Spokesman Review. Beirut. AP. 16 September 1982. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  23. ^ a b "Lebanese Civil War 1977 - 1981". Liberty 05. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  24. ^ Robert Fisk (24 July 1002). "Obituary: Suleiman Frangieh". The Independent. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  25. ^ a b c Bassil A. Mardelli (23 July 2012). Middle East Perspectives: From Lebanon (1968-1988). iUniverse. p. 390. ISBN 978-1-4759-0672-1. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  26. ^ "LF fires back at Franjieh over Ehden comments". Now Lebanon. 4 February 2011. Archived from the original on 23 April 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  27. ^ "Pro-Syrian Maronite perceives Sunni threat". WikiLeaks. 28 March 2006. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  28. ^ "When Mossad Chose Geagea to Kill Frangieh!". ABNA. 16 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
  29. ^ Michael Johnson (23 November 2002). All Honourable Men: The Social Origins of War in Lebanon. I.B.Tauris. p. 9. ISBN 978-1-86064-715-4. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  30. ^ "Lebanon's ex-leader vows retribution for slain son". The Palm Beach Post. Zagharta. AP. 15 June 1978. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  31. ^ "MP Keyrouz slams OTV's program on Ehden massacre". Now Lebanon. 16 June 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  32. ^ "Marada Movement marks 34th anniversary of Ehden massacre". Now Lebanon. 13 June 2012. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
  33. ^ Hussein Abdallah (25 October 2008). "Siniora and Abu Jamra cut deal to define deputy PM's powers". The Daily Star. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  34. ^ "Franjieh-Geagea reconciliation bid a charade - analysts". World Security Network. 23 October 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  35. ^ "Addoum outraged as Phalange leader claims credit". Lebanonwire. 14 May 2002. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  36. ^ "Hariri's Family Seeks Probe of Beirut Blast". Fox News. AP. 17 February 2005. Retrieved 17 December 2012.
  37. ^ Alia Ibrahim (18 May 2002). "Pakradouni defends probe into Ehden". Lebanon Wire. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  38. ^ "Mass killings called part of Lebanon history". The Telegraph. Beirut. AP. 4 October 1982. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  39. ^ a b "Franjieh Berates Gen. Sayyed for Reopening Ehden Massacre File". Naharnet. 17 May 2002. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
  40. ^ "The Ehden Massacre: This is how the MOSSAD chose Samir Geagea". MARADA. 14 May 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2012.

External linksEdit