Samir Geagea

Samir Farid Geagea (Arabic: سمير فريد جعجع‎  Lebanese pron.: [saˈmiːɾ faˈɾiːd ˈʒaʕʒaʕ], also spelled Samir Ja'ja'; born 25 October 1952) is a Lebanese politician and militia commander who serves as the executive chairman of the Lebanese Forces since 1986.

Samir Geagea
سمير جعجع
Samir Geagea 7 (cropped).jpg
Executive Chairman of Lebanese Forces
Assumed office
15 January 1986
Preceded byElie Hobeika
Personal details
Born (1952-10-25) 25 October 1952 (age 68)
Beirut, Lebanon
Political partyLebanese Forces
Other political
Kataeb Party (until 1992)
Spouse(s)Sethrida Tawk
Alma materAmerican University of Beirut
Saint Joseph University

Born in Ain al-Remaneh with origins from Bsharri, Geagea joined Kataeb Party in his early years. In 1978, during the Lebanese Civil War, he participated in the Ehden massacre, where he led troops that killed Tony Frangieh, leader of Marada militia, and his family. He organized a coup alongside Elie Hobeika and Karim Pakradouni in 1985 against Fouad Abou Nader's command. Supported by President Amine Gemayel, Geagea organized a second coup, after Hobeika signed the Tripartite Accord with Nabih Berri and Walid Jumblatt.

Geagea initially supported the "War of Liberation" declared by disputed Prime Minister Michel Aoun against the Syrian Army, however, he then agreed to the Taif Agreement and opposed Aoun. His troops clashed with the Lebanese Army in the "Cancellation War".

In 1994, Geagea was tried and convicted for ordering four political assassinations, including the assassination of Lebanon's Prime Minister Rashid Karami in 1987, and the unsuccessful attempted assassination of Defense Minister Michel Murr in 1991, and acquitted of Sayyidet Najet church bombing. He was sentenced to four death sentences, each of which was commuted to life in prison. Geagea was imprisoned in solitary confinement below the Lebanese Ministry of Defense building in Beirut for the next 11 years.

Following the Cedar Revolution, and the subsequent withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, a newly elected Lebanese Parliament voted to grant him amnesty on 18 July 2005.[1]

Early life and educationEdit

Geagea was born in the Ain el-Remmeneh district in Beirut on 25 October 1952 to a modest Maronite family from the town of Bsharri in northern Lebanon.[2] His father, Farid Geagea[3] was an adjutant in the Lebanese Army. He attended "Ecole Bénilde" elementary and secondary school in Furn el-Chebek, which was a free private school. With the aid of a scholarship from the Khalil Gibran association, he studied medicine at the American University of Beirut and then at Saint Joseph University. After the outbreak of civil war in 1975, Geagea interrupted his four years studies at the American University of Beirut. He was an active member of the right-wing Phalangist Party, which became the main Christian fighting force upon the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975.[4] He is married to MP Sethrida Geagea.

War period (1975–1990)Edit

Geagea steadily rose through the ranks and led several operations at the request of Bachir Gemayel, then commander of the Phalangist Kataeb Regulatory Forces militia. In June 1978, following the murder of a Phalangist party leader in the North Lebanon called Joud el Bayeh in a power struggle with former president Suleiman Frangieh, Bachir Gemayel ordered Geagea and Elie Hobeika to co-lead a unit to capture the suspects who were taking cover in Frangieh's mansion in Ehden. The incident is known as Ehden massacre.[5][6] The attacking force (which somehow went past over dozens of Syrian army checkpoints) was met with resistance on the outskirts of Ehden where Geagea was hit. He was transported to Beirut and admitted to Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Achrafieh, Beirut where ironically he was doing his internship. His right hand was partially paralyzed and he never continued his education. Meanwhile, the military operation resulted in the murder of Tony Frangieh and his family. Geagea was later transported to a hospital in France.

Geagea was appointed head of the Lebanese Forces' militia northern Front in the early 1980s, where he commanded around 1,500 battle-hardened soldiers, drawn mainly from his native town of Bsharri and other towns and villages in Northern Lebanon. Geagea led his men in fierce battles against the Syrian Army in El-Koura, Qnat. From 1982 to 1983, Geagea commanded the Lebanese Forces against Walid Jumblat's Progressive Socialist Party militia, the Palestinians, and the Syrians in a battle for control of the Chouf mountains in central Lebanon.

Lebanese ForcesEdit

Samir Geagea and daughter of William Hawi – Leila

On 12 March 1985, Geagea and Elie Hobeika orchestrated an internal coup in order to end the leadership of Fouad Abou Nader in the Lebanese Forces.[citation needed] Abou Nader was considered[by whom?] to be too close to his uncle, president Amin Gemayel whose policies were not accepted by most LF leaders.[citation needed] On 15 January 1986, Geagea became head of the Lebanese Forces after overthrowing Hobeika, who was widely accused[by whom?] of treachery in the Lebanese Christian sector for agreeing to a Syrian-sponsored accord (the Tripartite Accord).[citation needed] During the following year, Geagea meticulously rebuilt the LF into an organized, well trained and equipped military force, one of the most advanced forces ever on Lebanese soil.[citation needed] He established social security and public services to fill the void that was created by the war-crippled state administration.[citation needed] He also extracted taxes from the Christian region, offered free open-heart operations and twinned Christians cities with foreign cities in Europe and America and tried to open an airport in the Halat region because the Beirut International Airport (located in the west suburb of Beirut) was under the control of the Syrian forces which made the access for Lebanese Christians almost impossible.[citation needed]

The post-war period (1990)Edit

On 13 October 1990, Syria ousted General Michel Aoun from the presidential palace in Baabda. Aoun was heading an interim government which filled the void in the absence of a presidential election after the end of President Amin Gemayel's term in office. With Aoun out of the picture, Geagea was now the only leader in the Christian heartland. Geagea was subsequently offered ministerial portfolios in the new Lebanese government (formed on Christmas Eve).[7]

Relations with the Kataeb partyEdit

In addition to being the LF leader, Geagea retained his seat in the Kataeb Politburo. In 1992, he ran for the Kataeb presidential election but lost to Georges Saadeh with whom the conflict grew. Later that year, Saadeh dismissed Geagea and all members of what was known as the "Rescue Committee" from the party.[8] The committee was formed by several members of the Politburo and districts leaders loyal to the LF and Geagea.

Arrest and trialEdit

There was increased pressure by Syria on Geagea to accept the Syrian presence or face charges. Prior to his arrest, he was contacted by several sympathetic politicians and warned about the forthcoming proceedings and offered safe passage out of Lebanon. Geagea refused to leave.[9] The Syrians exploited the vulnerabilities of the amnesty law promulgated by then president Elias Hrawi for all the crimes and atrocities committed before 1990. This law also stated that any crime committed after that date will void the effect of the amnesty. On 26 January 1994, Geagea went to Qardaha, Syria to offer his condolences to President Hafez al-Assad, following the death of his son Bassel in a car accident.[10] During his visit to Syria, president's brother-in-law, Mohammed Makhlouf, asked him to talk with Syrian officers, but Geagea said that he only came for the funeral, which was considered as a refusal to cooperate with the Syrians.[11]

On 27 February 1994, a bomb exploded in the Church of Sayyidet Al Najet (Our Lady of Deliverance) in the locality of Zouk Mikael killing 9 worshipers and injuring many. It is unknown who perpetrated the bombing and it was ultimately attributed to some shadowy groups, but Samir Geagea was accused of the crime solely for the purpose of voiding the effect of the amnesty law of which he benefited, in the same way as all political and militia leaders from other communities and regions were benefiting despite their many unspeakable crimes throughout the Lebanese civil war.[5][12] On 23 March 1994, the Lebanese government ordered the dissolution of the LF and Geagea's deputy Fouad Malek was taken into custody.[13] Geagea himself was arrested on 21 April 1994 in his village Ghadras, on charges of ordering the church bombing, of attempting to undermine government authority by "maintaining a militia in the guise of a political party", of instigating acts of violence, and of committing assassinations during the Lebanese Civil War. He was accused of the assassinations of former prime minister Rashid Karami,[14] National Liberal Party leader Dany Chamoun and his family, and former LF member Elias Al Zayek. He was also accused of attempting to kill Minister Michel Murr. He was acquitted in the church case but given four life sentences in the other cases. Amnesty International criticized Samir Geagea's trial and conviction, citing that it was politically motivated and unjust.[9][15][16]


Geagea was incarcerated for 11 years in a small windowless solitary cell in the third basement level of the Lebanese Ministry of Defense in Yarze.[17] His health status was jeopardized and he lost weight dramatically due to the unsanitary condition of the ill lit and poorly ventilated prison cell.[18] He was deprived of access to media and the outside world and was only allowed to see his wife and close relatives. All of Geagea's conversations were monitored and he was barred from talking politics with anyone.[19]

For the duration of his incarceration, Geagea maintained that he meditated and reviewed his actions during the war to determine if what he did was right. He busied himself with reading literature, Hindu philosophy, the Qur'an, Christian theology and mysticism namely the works of Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin.[5][19][20]


Leaders of the Cedar Revolution considered the Geagea trials and sentences to be unjust, politically motivated, and orchestrated by the vassal government that ruled Lebanon during the Syrian occupation to oust Geagea from the political scene and dismantle the Lebanese Forces.[21] When supporters of the Cedar Revolution won the majority in the 2005 parliamentary elections, they lobbied for an amnesty law to free Geagea from his disputed sentences.[21]

The Lebanese Parliament passed an amnesty bill on 18 July 2005 to free Geagea. Given the sectarian balance of Lebanon, three dozen Islamist criminals were released with Geagea. The bill was subsequently signed by the then president Émile Lahoud.[1] Geagea was released from prison on 26 July 2005 and left Lebanon for medical care.[22] He returned to Lebanon on 25 October (his birthday), and lived in the Cedars region, his ancestral homeland, in northern Lebanon until 11 December 2006, after which he moved to a hotel in Bzoummar in Keserwan. On 30 June 2007, he moved to a new residence in Maarab, Keserwan.

Current political activityEdit

On the Lebanese political scene, Geagea and the LF are considered to be the main Christian component of the 14 March Alliance.[23]

In September 2008, Geagea pronounced in front of thousands of rallying supporters in Jounieh a historical apology.[19] The apology read:

I fully apologize for all the mistakes that we committed when we were carrying out our national duties during past civil war years,... I ask God to forgive, and so I ask the people whom we hurt in the past.[24]

Internationally, Geagea tried to renew his relations with influential countries such as the United States and France. On 19 March 2007, he met then French president Jacques Chirac in the Élysée Palace.[25] In March 2008, he held talks in the US with officials at the White House, including then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, then NSA Stephen Hadley and then chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia Gary Ackerman.[26]

A 2015 leak of documents from Saudi Arabia's Foreign Affairs Ministry revealed that Geagea had asked for money to pay for bodyguards and boasted of his "preparedness to do whatever the kingdom asks of him."[27]

Assassination attempt (2012)Edit

On 4 April 2012, at 11:30-11:33 am, gunshots were heard in Geagea's Ma'Arab Complex. Geagea's security forces scouted the area, and found shells belonging to a 12.7 caliber sniper rifle, a high-tech rifle produced only by the United States and/or Russia, not available in the Lebanese infantries, the Lebanese Armed Forces or the black market, suggesting that the gun could only be obtained by one powerful party. Speculators claim the perpetrators to be pro-Syrian forces, most likely Hezbollah. Account of the story, as described in the press conference immediately following the attempt, claim Geagea to have been walking outside in the garden surrounding his mansion. Geagea bent over to pick up a flower, while bent over, Geagea heard gunshots, and immediately lay low on the ground, while his security forces took care of the situation. At the location where the shot would have killed him, two bullets had pierced through the wall. They claim the shooters to have been at least a kilometer away, stationed west of the residence (but the body guards were unable to see them due to the thick trees), and the operation to have been planned for months to silence Geagea, the only strong vocal critic against the Syrian/Iranian forces and the incumbent government. The Lebanese security forces have uncovered that a nine-member assassination team divided into three groups was involved in the killing attempt; two of the three groups were in charge of firing on Geagea.[28]

Candidacy for presidency (2014)Edit

In 2014, Geagea declared his candidacy for the Lebanese presidential elections to succeed President Michel Suleiman, whose 6-year term was to end on 25 May 2014. Geagea enjoyed the comprehensive political backing of the March 14 Alliance for the presidency.[29] However, the country entered into a 2 years presidential deadlock, which ended in 2016,[30] with Geagea backing up his longtime rival Michel Aoun for the presidency[31] through the Maarab Accord. Aoun was elected president, ending more than two years of presidencial vacuum.


  1. ^ a b Amnesty for Lebanese ex-warlord, BBC News, 18 July 2005. Retrieved on 7 July 2009.
  2. ^ Samir Geagea - Biography
  3. ^ "Geagea's father passes away | News, Lebanon News | THE DAILY STAR".
  4. ^ Abraham, Antoine (1996). The Lebanon war. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 195. ISBN 978-0-275-95389-8.
  5. ^ a b c Azzam, Roger (2005). Liban, l'instruction d'un crime: 30 ans de guerre. Editions Cheminements. p. 765. ISBN 978-2-84478-368-4.
  6. ^ Johnson, Michael (2001). All honorable men: the social origins of war in Lebanon. I.B.Tauris. p. 298. ISBN 978-1-86064-715-4.
  7. ^ Lebanon's Cabinet Named, Then Boycotted. The New York Times, 25 December 1990. Retrieved on 28 February 2008.
  8. ^ Split Threatens Lebanon's Biggest Christian Party. The New York Times, 16 January 1993. Retrieved on 28 February 2008.
  9. ^ a b Ziad K. Abdel Nour. "Dossier: Samir Geagea Leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) movement". Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. Archived from the original (.html) on 29 May 2004. Retrieved 5 July 2008.
  10. ^ Nader Moumneh (2018). The Lebanese Forces: Emergence and Transformation of the Christian Resistance. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 201. ISBN 9780761870760.
  11. ^ 25 سنة على زيارة جعجع الى سوريا... تفاصيل تروى للمرة الاولى. (in Arabic). 21 January 2019.
  12. ^ Blast in Lebanon Church Kills 9 and Injures 60, The New York Times, 28 February 1994. Retrieved on 27 March 2008.
  13. ^ Lebanon Detains Christian in Church Blast, The New York Times, 24 March 1994. Retrieved on 27 March 2008.
  14. ^ Alagha, Joseph (Winter 2005). "Hizballah after the Syrian Withdrawal". Middle East Report. 237 (237): 34–39. doi:10.2307/30042473. JSTOR 30042473.
  15. ^ "Lebanese Ex-Warlord Sentenced in Rival's Slaying : Mideast: Christian is the first militia chief convicted of civil war crimes. Many received amnesty. Eleven associates are also sentenced.", Los Angeles Times, 25 June 1995. Retrieved on 14 October 2016.
  16. ^ Amnesty International. "Annual Report on Lebanon (1996)". Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation. Retrieved 22 June 2009.
  17. ^ UN Commission on Human Rights – Torture – Special Rapporteur's Report. United Nations Economic and Social Council, 12 January 1995. Retrieved on 22 February 2008.
  18. ^ U.S. Department of State (March 1996). Lebanon Human Rights Practices, 1995. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  19. ^ a b c Daragahi, Borzou (15 December 2008). "In Lebanon, rivals unconvinced by warlord's apology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  20. ^ "An ex-warlord's act of contrition". Los Angeles Times. 15 December 2008.
  21. ^ a b Radio Sawt Beirut International. "Lebanese Political Parties- Lebanese Forces". Archived from the original (SawtBeirut) on 23 January 2009. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  22. ^ Lebanese ex-warlord is released, BBC News, 26 July 2005. Retrieved on 27 July 2007.
  23. ^ Carter, Terry; Lara Dunston; Amelia Thomas (2008). Syria and Lebanon (3 ed.). Lonely Planet. p. 436. ISBN 978-1-74104-609-0.
  24. ^ Abdallah, Hussein (22 August 2008). "Geagea apologizes for LF's wartime 'mistakes'". The Daily Star. Retrieved 11 July 2009.
  25. ^ Geagea meets Chirac (in Arabic). As-Safir Newspaper, 20 March 2007. Retrieved on 26 February 2008.
  26. ^ Geagea from Washington: We Focused on Protection of Lebanon. Naharnet Newsdesk, 12 March 2008. Retrieved on 30 May 2008.
  27. ^ Hubbard, Ben (2020). MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed Bin Salman. Tim Duggan Books.
  28. ^ "Accounts of Samir Geagea's Assassination Attempt". Naharnet. 4 April 2012. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
  29. ^ "Is Samir Geagea the next president of Lebanon?".
  30. ^ "Lebanon Ends Presidential Deadlock; Lasting Consensus Key". Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  31. ^ Perry, Tom (18 January 2016). "Geagea reshapes Lebanese politics, backs rival Aoun". Reuters. Retrieved 28 June 2018.

External linksEdit

  • Jean-Marc Aractingi, La politique à mes trousses, Paris, Éditions l'Harmattan, 2006 (ISBN 978-2-296-00469-6)