In this article we remember the murder of Lt Aengus Murphy by armed elements in Aug 1986 in Lebanon.  He was the twentieth member of the DF to die while on service with UNIFIL and the 127th member of the force to die. 

In 1986 Amal, (the Arabic acronym for Lebanese Resistance Regiments) was the dominant Shi’a Muslim armed elements group operating in south Lebanon.  UNIFIL had liaison with Amal’s political wing in the south through Daoud Daoud and its publicly stated position was that it supported the UNIFIL mission.  Jawad Kasfie, who had been trained in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Czechoslovakia, was part of an off-shoot from Amal that used the title “Believers Resistance”, the group was also called “forces of the martyr, the commander of the Resistance of the Believers, Haj Zuheir Shihadi”.  Shihadi had been killed by the IDF in Feb 1986 during an incursion into Lebanon. This group had a separate command structure from Amal and was headed by Mustafa Dirani, the leader in the south was Hassan Traad, also known as Abu Fadl, Traad was Kasfie’s immediate superior.

On Thursday 21 Aug 1986, Lt Aengus Murphy (25), Pl Comd, B Coy, 59 Inf Bn was murdered by an IED that was probably made by Kasfie.  Lt Murphy was leading a six-man patrol on the At Tiri to Haddatha road at about 0700 hours, two members of the patrol were in an APC and the others were on foot.  The road was used by the DFF to resupply their position at Hill 880 and Irishbatt used the road to resupply the Pl at At Tiri. 

The IED consisted of approximately 70 Kgs of explosives and two 120 mm mortar rounds, it was planted in a stone wall on the roadside at an olive grove and it was detonated by a command wire some 70 Metres away. 

After the explosion, Lt Murphy was missing, two other members of the patrol, Gnr Liam Molloy (20) from Nurney Co Kildare and Pte Colin Moore (20) from Carlow suffered shrapnel and blast injuries and they were evacuated to SwedMedCoy field hospital at Naqoura.

Personnel at At Tiri alerted Coy HQ and Bn HQ deployed medical, EOD and MP personnel and an armoured patrol led by Capt Willie O’Dwyer from Recce Coy to the scene.  A sentry at 6-15 At Tiri alerted the post at 6-14 Rshaf of movement of two armed men on a back track to Haddatha.  The armoured patrol apprehended the pair at 0735 hours and bought them to Gallows Green. 

The two men were Hisham Souli (17) from Haddatha and Mahmoud Fakih (20) from At Tiri, they had wire and tape in their possession.  They denied involvement and gave false names.  At 0945 two members of the Lebanese Police and the local Amal leader arrived outside Gallows Green.   On instructions from UNIFIL Ops the two suspects were handed over to the Lebanese Police at 1010 hours. They were subsequently released into Amal custody and were taken out of the area.  While this was unfolding, Kasfi was mobilising followers with the intention of abducting Irish personnel as a reprisal. Senior Amal leaders intervened and dissuaded him from doing so. 

Following the killing of Lt Murphy, a meeting was arranged with Amal leaders and they expressed horror at the killing and they denied Amal involvement.


Lt Aengus Murphy completed his secondary education at St Jarlath’s College Tuam and he graduated from Thomond College of Education, Limerick with a BA in Physical Education.  He was a formidable Gaelic footballer with Tuam Stars Cub and he played with the Galway under 21, minor and senior teams at mid-field.  He followed his father Brig Gen Kevin Murphy (later Maj Gen) and his older brother Capt Conal  Murphy (later Comdt) in a career in the DF.  He joined as a member of 56 Cadet Class on 12 Nov 1979 and he was commissioned on 27 Apr 1981.  He served in GTD and AAS.

On 25 Aug, a service was held in the grounds of SwedMedCoy and the Force Commander

Maj Gen Gustav Hägglund , Lt Col John O’Shea CO 59 Inf Bn and personnel from the unit attended the service.  After the service, Lt Murphy’s remains were repatriated via London, they were escorted by Lt Col Des Hearns, the battalion legal officer.  On arrival, they were taken to the Church of the Sacred Heart Arbour Hill.  On Tuesday, Requiem Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Edward Dunne HCF and President Patrick Hillery attended.  The funeral cortege travelled to the Cathedral Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Tuam.  On Wednesday, mass was celebrated at the cathedral at 1100 hours, the chief celebrant was Canon Thomas Waldron, Administrator Tuam, assisted by Monsignor Edward Dunne HCF.  An Taoiseach, Garret Fitzgerald, Minister for Defence, Paddy O’Toole, COS Lt Gen Tadgh O’Neill headed the official mourners. 

Lt Murphy was survived by his parents Brig Gen Kevin Murphy, his mother Therese, his brothers Conal and Kevin, his fiancée Martina.  Lt Murphy and his fiancée had bought a house at Kill and they were engaged to be married in Mar 1987.

He was laid to rest in Bohermore Cemetery in Galway.

Solas na bhflaitheas air.

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