Bashir Gemayel was born on November 10, 1947
in Bikfaya, Lebanon, his family's ancestral home for 400 years. He was
the youngest child, the second son, of Pierre
Gemayel, founder of the Kataeb Social Democratic Party of Lebanon,
The Phalange. Bashir graduated from St. Joseph University (Beirut) in
1971 with a Bachelors degree in Law and Political Science.
Bashir involved himself in both the academic world and in politics. He
first visited the United States in 1972 to attend a seminar on International
law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Upon completion
of the seminar, he returned to Lebanon to pursue his required three years
legal internship before being admitted to the bar. In the meantime, having
been a member of the Kataeb Party since his youth, he was appointed the
Political Director of the Ashrafieh district of Beirut in 1972. He was
extremely patriotic and believed in the soveriegnty and unity of Lebanon
at all costs.
After the Lebanese-PLO war broke out in April 1975, Bashir joined
his fellow militia members of the Kataeb party in fighting against the
PLO, he had a direct role in the fighting and was involved in all of the
major battles of the first two years.
When William Hawi, Commander-in-Chief of the Kataeb Military Council was
killed at the siege of the PLO stronghold in Tal al-Zaatar in July 1976,
Bashir was named to succeed him. By August 30, he was appointed head of
the unified command of the Lebanese Forces, a coalition of the Christian
militias of the Kataeb Party, National
Liberal Party, the Tanzim
and the Guardians of the Cedars.
Bashir married Solange Toutounji in 1977. His first child Maya, at the
age of eighteen months, was killed in Beirut on February 23, 1980 in a
car bomb explosion intended for Bashir. Their two other children are Youmna,
born in 1981 and Nadim, born in 1982.
On July 7, 1980, the Christian militias were officially unified into one
as the Lebanese Forces with Bashir Gemayel as their Commander-in-Chief.
By January 1981, he also held positions as Chief of the Kataeb Security
Council and member of the Kataeb Political Bureau.
Under President Elias
Sarkis, a Council of National Salvation was formed in June 1982 which
grouped the major militia and political leaders in an effort to draw up
measures to end the seven years of war which had shaken Lebanon. Gemayel
participated on the short-lived Council as the representative of the Lebanese
As a result the bitter fighting of the previous years and terrible attrocities
commited on both sides, Bashir was worried about the consequences of his
troops entering West Beirut and Muslim villages. He did not want it to
be an excercise in revenge and retribution.
Bashir was frank and direct in his dealings with people. His zeal for
the Lebanese cause, an independent Lebanon free of all foreign occupation,
inspired many. This goal took him around the world, meeting with Arab
and Western leaders, in search for solutions and support. He was a bold
man, charismatic, decisive. He maintained a clear political course, attracting
young, dynamic and specialized individuals to the cause. He was forthright
and realistic, was open to dialogue and not afraid of criticism.
Bashir officially announced his candidacy for President of the Republic
of Lebanon on July 24, 1982. On August 23, 1982, Gemayel was elected President
of the Republic in a second ballot by a vote of 57 for with 5 abstentions.
During the next few weeks, he held countless planning sessions and intensive
meetings with Christian and Muslim leaders, drawing up plans for the new
Lebanon he wanted reborn. Slowly his message was heard. He began rallying
all of Lebanon, Muslims and Christians alike, around him as no other leader
in Lebanon had been able to do since independence.
At 4:10 pm on September 14, 1982, nine days before he was to be inaugurated
President, Bashir attended his usual discussion session at the Kataeb
office in Ashrafieh. A powerful explosion on the second floor ripped through
the building, collapsing it on itself and killing Bashir along with 26
The perpetrator, Habib Shartouny, 26, a member of the Syrian Socialist
Nationalist Party (SSNP), and
a Syrian agent was apprehended. Mossad, the CIA, and Israeli military
intelligence, pooling there resources with the Lebanese intelligence community
established that Chartouny had installed a long range electronic detonator
to a bomb made of Semtex-H which had been smuggled into the building where
Chartouny's sister lived. Her apartment was directly above the Phalange
offices. Chartouny's case officer was a captain in the Syrian intelligence
service called Nassif, who reported directly to Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed
G'anen who was in charge of Syrian intelligence operations in Lebanon.
Both the Syrian Army and Air Force intelligence had knowledge of the bombing
as did Hafez
al-Assad's brother Rifaat al-Assad, head of Syria's security forces.
Gemayel consistently worked for free, democratic, independent Lebanon,
pluralist in nature and strong, secure state. he believed that Moslem
and Christian could live together in peace and that Lebanon need to maintain
good relations with the Western World as well as the Arab World. He advocated
the withdrawal of Syrian forces occupying Lebanon since 1975, the withdrawal
of Israeli forces occupying Lebanon since June 1982 and disarming of the
Palestinians while on Lebanese soil.