BEIRUT: Suleiman Hilal Assad, a cousin of Syrian President Bashar Assad, was behind the kidnapping of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s son, Hannibal, sources said Sunday.
The sources told The Daily Star a mob headed by Suleiman Assad kidnapped Hannibal in Syria and handed him over to an armed group in Lebanon.
They said Hannibal was held for a few days near the eastern city of Baalbek before locals became aware of the kidnapping, which eventually compelled the abductors to release him.
In a video broadcast on Lebanese TV Friday, Hannibal was seen appealing for more information concerning the 1978 disappearance of Lebanese cleric Sheikh Musa al-Sadr.
He was later handed over to the Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch in Beirut through unidentified intermediaries.
Sadr, one of the most influential Shiite figures in Lebanon during the twentieth century, disappeared in August 1978 while on an official visit to Libya at the invitation of Moammar Gadhafi. Journalist Abbas Badreddine and Sheikh Mohammad Yaacoub were also kidnapped with Sadr. Lebanon blames Gadhafi’s regime for the kidnapping.
Judge Zaher Hamadeh requested to summon Hannibal at the Beirut Justice Palace in Sadr's disappearance case.
The 40-year-old Libyan businessman and former playboy was given sanctuary in Oman a year after his father Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown by rebels in a 2011 uprising.
Suleiman Hilal Assad was arrested in August 2015 on suspicion of killing a military officer in a road rage incident. He was later discharged.