BEIRUT: A cross-channel news segment commemorating the disappearance 36 years ago of Amal Movement founder Musa Sadr is set to air Sunday evening, a move that some see as compensation for the recent cancellation of an annual tribute to the imam.
“Imam Musa Sadr is a national figure, and his case is a national concern,” director general of Amal-affiliated NBN TV Qassem Soueid told The Daily Star Wednesday.
Sadr's national significance has prompted news outlets to come up with a televised tribute, said Soueid, highlighting that NBN was the mastermind behind the idea.
The program will feature a brief segment accompanied by a shared logo that will be aired on all news stations.
After the introduction, all news broadcasts will simultaneously switch to a televised speech given by Amal Movement leader Speaker Nabih Berri, said Soueid.
Following the speech, news outlets will deliver a short biography of the imam’s life and legacy, he added.
The news comes just under a week after Amal officials told The Daily Star that the annual commemoration of the disappearance of its founder was canceled for the second year in a row due to security fears.
In previous years, the event has been held in the Bekaa Valley, Beirut, Nabatieh or Tyre, and has attracted tens of thousands of supporters - as well as Sunni, Shiite and Christian figures - who come to hear Berri and pay tribute to Sadr’s legacy.
Sadr and his companions disappeared in Libya in 1978 during a regional tour to try and muster Arab support to pressure the Israelis to withdraw from Lebanon following their invasion earlier that year.
Many theories have emerged over the years as to what became of the three men, most of them implicating Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. He consistently denied any role in their disappearance.
A recently released book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Kai Bird claimed that Sadr and his friends were executed in Libya at the behest of Mohammad Beheshti, an Iranian scholar close to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Bird’s biography of CIA agent Robert Ames, “The Good Spy,” said that “Ames was told by his Palestinian sources that eventually Imam Musa Sadr and his two traveling companions had been summarily executed and buried at an unmarked desert gravesite.”
Beheshti himself would be executed just a few years later in 1981.
The Lebanese state and Sadr’s followers maintain the imam is “missing” rather than dead, but hopes that the fate of him and his companions might finally be revealed following the fall of Gaddafi’s regime have since dimmed.
Last month, Yaaqoub’s son, MP Hasan Yaaqoub, announced yet another committee to follow up on the case, but so far, multiple Lebanese truth-finding commissions have failed to turn up any promising leads.