Musa Sadr in Libya?

In 2007, Gaddafi expressed ambitions to revive a Fatimid state to create the foundations for a renaissance in North Africa, in a bid to attract the attention of Shia scholars and leaders.  In vain — for he unapologetically also expressed shockingly undemocratic sentiments to the effect that elections and coups are no different!  His failed overture to Shia Muslims goes back further, though.

In 1978, Imam Musa Al Sadr, a spiritual leader of the Shias in Lebanon, was invited to Libya by Gaddafi; during that visit Musa Sadr (and a Lebanese journalist) somehow “disappeared.”  The Libyan officials to this day have not offered any sound explanation as to what happened to him.  The apparent kidnapping of this cleric, who was the founder of the Shia empowerment movement in Lebanon of “Harakat al Mahroomin,” alienated many in the region.

Caricature of Gaddafi in Shargh, a reformist newspaper in Iran

Sadeq Tabatabai of the Provisional Government in Iran was a nephew of Imam Sadr, and Ahmad Khomeini (son of Ayatollah Khomeini) was also related to him by marriage.  Right after the Iranian revolution, Gaddafi’s second-in-command Abdel Salam Jalloud visited Iran.  During that trip he very much wanted to visit Ayatollah Khomeini.  A member of the provisional government told me in an interview that Khomeini refused to see him “until the Libyans clarify Musa Sadr’s situation.”

His family believes Imam Sadr might be alive.  His son-in-law Mehdi Forouzan said that some of the released Libyan prisoners reported that he had been sighted in a prison.  He further indicated that both the Lebanese courts and the Iranian Parliament contend Sadr is alive.  Forouzan added that a “welcoming committee” was just formed in Lebanon.

Recently, Hezbollah of Lebanon issued a statement about the current situation in Libya and condemned Gaddafi for crimes against his people.

Farid Marjai is an Iranian journalist.

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