Lebanon News

New committee to follow up on Sadr disappearance

A conference launching a new committee to follow up on the case of Shiite Imam Musa Sadr's disappearance. (The Daily Star Photo)

BEIRUT: A new committee has been formed to follow up on the case of the missing Shiite Imam Musa Sadr, who went missing 36 years ago while on a trip to Libya, a former MP announced in a news conference Thursday.

“When we suggested the serious work [on the matter] ... many of our brothers came to contribute ... and some of them went forward to form a serious committee,” said former MP Hasan Yaakoub at a news conference launching the committee in the Saha restaurant in southern Beirut.

Yakoub, who is the son of Sheikh Mohammed Yakoub, a companion of Sadr that went missing with him in Libya, said the committee would discard “old types of work that haven’t brought any outcomes.”

“All what has been done for this case during all the past years was nothing,” Yakoub said. “We repeat that the negligence was [too obvious] to require evidence.”

Yakoub said the main difficulty was the restrictions imposed in the case, stressing that the first step toward a solution was “liberating the case” from limitations.

He accused the same “network of interest” that was behind the disappearance, of “continuing the conspiracy by keeping the case surrounded and eclipsed.”

The former MP explained that after the collapse of late Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi’s rule, investigations in the case had achieved significant progress.

However, he asked a series of questions suspecting a decision not to reveal the truth behind Sadr’s disappearance.

“Why haven’t anyone done a real investigation with Seif al-Islam Gadhafi?” Yakoub quetioned. “Why haven’t anyone interrogated Abdallah al-Snousi, the former intelligence head of Moammar Gadhafi?”

The committee’s members include Badreddine’s son Abbas, in addition to Mohammad Saad, former political adviser to Sadr, Mohammad Haidar, Abu Shamran al-Hajj Akl Hmieh, Naji Ayoub, Muhannad Al-Assad and Sheikh Salman Assaf.

Yakoub said the committee’s agenda would later be announced but explained that the “real work will begin with a political, judiciary and popular movements, and communications on all levels.”

The committee will cooperate with the Libyan government, as well as the countries interested in the matter, especially Iran.

The Libyan government had agreed to cooperate with Lebanon in clarifying the fate of the missing imam earlier this year, by honoring a memorandum of understanding signed in March, under which the two countries will coordinate efforts to solve the mystery of the vanishing imam and his two companions.

Signed in Tripoli, the memo “stipulates a clear and honest recognition that the disappearance of the imam in Libya occurred under the regime of former President Moammar Gadhafi,” according to Parliament Speak Nabih Berri, the current head of the Amal Movement that was founded by Sadr.

Sadr went missing during a visit to Libya on Aug. 31, 1978. His disappearance caused a rift between Lebanon and the regime of Gadhafi, which continuously denied any involvement, maintaining that Sadr had left Libya for Italy.

Conflicting reports about Sadr’s fate circulated following Gadhafi’s downfall, with one report claiming Sadr was killed at Gadhafi’s orders and buried in a mass grave outside Tripoli.

Ties between Libya and Lebanon were severed after Sadr's disappearance in light of Beirut's position that Gadhafi was responsible for the incident. Gadhafi's collapse reversed the relationship with a Lebanese delegation traveling to Libya on several occasions and holding talks with authorities there over the case.





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