Mousa al-Sadr alive in Libyan prison: sources

Shiite leader missing since 1978 during official visit


As protests sweep Libya demanding the ouster of the regime and several accusations of human rights violations are directed at Muammar Gaddafi, the file of the disappearance of Mousa al-Sadr has started coming to the forefront once more with sources telling AlArabiya.net that the Shiite imam is alive in a Libyan prison.

Sources close of the family of Iranian-born Lebanese Islamic thinker and religious leader Sadr told AlArabiya.net they received information that he is alive and detained in a Libyan prison.

The family, according to the sources, is exerting its utmost effort to make sure this information is correct and in order to release Sadr and take him to Lebanon where a committee is to be formed to receive him when he lands in the capital Beirut.

During the search AlArabiya.net conducted in order to obtain more information on the destiny of the Shiite cleric, a source close to the Amal Movement, founded by Sadr in 1974 in Lebanon to address the grievances of the marginalized Shiites in Lebanon, said that several Libyan officers who fled to Egypt confirmed that they saw him in one of the prisons in Libya.

This drove Sadr’s family to form a fact finding committee to verify the information.

Sadr disappeared in August 1978 during an official visit to Libya, where he was accompanied by Sheikh Mohammed Yaacoub and head of the Lebanese news agency Abbas Badreddine. Nothing has been known of the three of them ever since.

The most widely-circulated rumor is that Gaddafi ordered Sadr’s killing even though the motives were not clear. The Libyan leader denied the charges and insisted that his three visitors departed for Italy after leaving Libya.

If Sadr comes back

Alireza Nourizadeh, historian and director of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies, argued that it might be better for Sadr not to come back so that he will not be shocked at the current state of affairs in Iran.

“If he returns he will find out that his friend Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, the first director of the national radio and television in the Islamic republic, was executed and that the Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Shariatmadari was humiliated before his death,” he told AlArabiya.net.

“He will also discover that his octogenarian friend Dr. Ebrahim Yazdi is in jail and struggling with cancer, that Hashemi Rafsanjani is about to be expelled from the political scene, and that his dear friend Abulhassan Banisadr, the first president of the Islamic republic, is currently living in exile.”

On the Lebanese front, Nourizadeh added, Sadr is bound to receive another blow upon finding out that his disciple Sheikh Ali al-Amin was dismissed by Hezbollah from his position as the mufti of Tyre and Mount Amel.

“Sadr will be shocked to see what Hezbollah and the Amal Movement are currently doing in Lebanon.”

Nourizadeh explained that even though Musa al-Sadr was related by marriage to the family of the founder of the Islamic republic Ayatollah Khomeini, he has always disagreed with him over the Guardianship of the Jurist (Wilayat al-Faqih), a Shiite concept that gives a top cleric absolute authority.

Sadr will be shocked to see what Hezbollah and the Amal Movement are currently doing in Lebanon

Iranian historian Alireza Nourizadeh

Iran and Libya

Nourizadeh, who is a staunch critic of the regime inTehran lashed out at the Iranian government for its passive stance on Sadr’s disappearance, which he attributed to the strong strategic ties between Iran and Libya.

“The stance of the Shah’s regime on Sadr’s disappearance was much better than that of the Islamic regime. The Shah sent a delegation to Damascus and asked the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad to help in finding out what happened to Sadr.”

Nourizadeh expressed his surprise that the Iranian Islamic regime that names its streets after controversial people, on top of whom is Islamist fundamentalist and assassin of late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, did not think of doing the same with Musa al-Sadr.

“The government did not bother to even name a narrow alley after Musa al-Sadr because of the relations between Iran and Libya and because of Sadr’s stance on the guardianship issue.”

It is also surprising, Nourizadeh pointed out, how Iran changed its stance on Libya after the protests that called for the ouster of Gaddafi started.

“Suddenly Iran is acting as if it’s always been enemies with Libya even though they’ve been closest allies for the past three decades.”

Iran has earlier condemned the violent crackdown on protestors as “unacceptable” and called upon the international community to stop the bloodshed and protect the rightful demands of the Libyan people.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

Suddenly Iran is acting as if it’s always been enemies with Libya even though they’ve been closest allies for the past three decades

Iranian historian Alireza Nourizadeh