Where's the Political Will?
Does Lebanon Really Want to Solve the Imam Musa Sadr Mystery?
by FRANKLIN LAMB
"It is not too late to re-energize the moribund Sadr-Yaacoub-Badr Eddine inquiry employing proven and widely available investigative techniques. It's a question of whether there exists the political will on the Lebanese side."
Gadaffi officials, among the hundreds lying low in Egypt
these days, continue to express remarkable interest in contributing to uncovering
the truth surrounding the August 31, 1978 disappearance of Lebanon's Imam
Musa Sadr, Sheik Mohammed Yaacoub, and journalist Abbas Badr Eddine.
Currently in Cairo for the purpose of advancing the Sadr-Yaacoub inquiry, this observer has been granted a number of appointments with former high ranking Libyan officials who are willing to cooperate with the inquiry including, but not limited to, Ahmad Gadaffi Eldam, Abdul Rahman Chalkan, Mohamad Alkhadar, and former Libyan Foreign Minister and UN ambassador Ali Treki as well as individuals from the intelligence community and media.
It may be
recalled that it was Mohamad Alkhadar during his recent stay at the Grand Hyatt
Hotel in Cairo, that the close Muammar Gadaffi associate revealed that it was
Libyan intelligence operative Mohammad Rehiby, with another officer (identity
soon to be revealed), who was sent on 8/3/78 by Gadaffi's chief of intelligence
for 40 years and brother in law, Abdullah Senussi to check into the Holiday Inn
in Rome carrying Musa Sadr and Mohammad Yaacoub's passports and luggage.
Rehiby, was wearing the Imams clothes and he shuffled a bit as he walked on
elevated shoes wanting to appear taller. The Imam was 6 feet 6 inches tall.
Instead Rehiby drew curious stares from the hotel front desk staff and guests,
compromising his mission a bit. Two days later Mr. Rehiby returned to Tripoli
in his own secular clothes, without the shoes which he left in "Imam Sadr's
room". For years Rehiby shoes jokes passed among Gadaffi regime insiders and
Abdullah Senussi was kidded by his brother in law, according to friends.
Ali Abdussalam Treki, Libya's former foreign minister, who is currently living in an
apartment in Cairo, sometimes gives interviews at the Sofitel Hotel in Cairo surrounded by body guards. During part of the 1970's and 1980's, Treki also served as Libya's Permanent Representative to the UN and was elected President of the UN General Assembly 2009-2010. He has been able to confirm key details of the Sadr-Yaacoub 1978 visit to Libya. His cooperation continues as he, like some of the other ex-officials in the Gadaffi regime, attempts to negotiate return to his cherished homeland. This observer first met Ambassador Treki, back in 1986 following the Reagan attack on the Gaddafi compound in Tripoli.
The heightened interest in finally solving the Sadr-Yaacoub case is
evidenced by questions being raised here concerning why the widely
perceived void of credible progress in unraveling the trio's fate, a
mystery for the past 34 years.
The fall of the
Gadaffi regime initially led to much speculation that the Sadr-Yaacoub case
would finally be solved. Yet despite some brief meetings in Libya, including
one with Abdullah Senussi in Mauritania, nothing much new has been learned
according to Lebanese officials selected to investigate and resolve this
Mauritanian and Libyan officials have expressed the opinion, that some
of those close to Gadaffi's regime have believed since September 3, 1978. And which is that Musa Sadr was killed three days earlier on Gadaffi's direct orders, with foreign backing, and buried in the desert south of Tripoli. This observer visited the suspected site where during late July 2011 with three then Libyan officials, one of whom is currently in Egypt. Negotiations continue with respect to the Libyan government's cooperation regarding partial exhumation of located remains to be followed immediately by scientifically conducted and supervised DNA testing.
Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adnan Mansour, was quoted in Afkar
magazine recently as saying that the key Senussi meeting was not successful and that "Abdullah Senussi played with us leaving us more confused."
statement supports what ex-Libyan officials who know Senussi
well, and who were interviewed in early November 2012 in Cairo, expressed which is that Senussi did not take the Lebanese side seriously after just minutes into the meeting.
Former officials also note the necessity of adding professional investigators to the Lebanese team. Gadaffi regime ex-officials have explained to this observer that Senessi, well known as a tough, smart, experienced analyst and judge of people's credibility quickly came to suspect that the Lebanese side was ambivalent about pursuing a serious investigation of the Sadr-Yaacoub case and appeared content to prolong the 34 year mystery.
Among those who
care about the Sadr-Yaacoub-Badr Eddine case both in
Lebanon and internationally, including millions of Shia Muslims and others, as well as the international investigative team that has been working on the case for the past 17 months, questions abound.
Some of the puzzlement rises from the unsubstantiated claims by some in Lebanon that DNA tests were made by "DNA specialists" but proved negative. These claims have not been supported by any probative evidence relating to the timing and place the tissue samples were gathered or even the identity or competence of the "DNA specialists." Nor has there been any scientific testimony regarding the alleged tests, relating to where the samples were gathered or the vital chain of secured custody or even laboratory reports of any and all DNA samples or testing.