Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper based on information from Gadaffi security officials who defected during the 2011 revolution, correctly reported that Abu Nidal shot and killed Musa Sadr and his companions on September 5 1978. This observer later was advised by a longtime Libyan government official that before being shot they had been imprisoned for three days.
The trio had been driven to a secluded area in Janzour, an hour's drive West of Tripoli on direct orders from Gadaffi's deputy, Abdessalam Jalloud. Janzour is a town where Abu Nidal from time to time carried out killings of Gadaffi opponents.
As noted above, the actual executions were performed by two associates of the hired Palestinian assassin Sabri Khalil al-Banna. Al-Banna was born in Jaffa Palestine in May of 1937, and took the nom de guerre, "Abu Nidal" ('father of the struggle'). He organized the Fatah- Revolutionary Council (FRC) in 1974 after splitting from Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction within the PLO. At the height of its power in the 1970s and 1980s, the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) as the FRC soon became known, was widely regarded as the most ruthless of the Palestinian groups. According to former Gaddafi officials as well as al-Khabar Press, Abu Nidal was tasked over nearly three decades with killing hundreds of Gadaffi regime opponents. A service Abu Nidal also performed for Saddam Hussein until he fell out with Saddam and was himself killed in Bagdad in August of 2002. Abu Nidal also did mercenary work for other Arab leaders.
Acting as a freelance contractor, Abu Nidal is believed to have ordered attacks in 20 countries, killing hundreds and injuring over one thousand. Journalist David Hirst wrote in the Guardian on the news of Abu Nidal's violent death rumored, to have been ordered by Saddam Hussein: "He served only himself, only the warped personal drives that pushed him into hideous crimes. He was the ultimate mercenary."
Jallouds arrangement for Nidal's assignment was matter of fact in the sense that they had a long history of collaboration. Jalloud abandoned Gadhafi on August 11, 2011, joined the rebels and now lives in France. In October of 2016 he reportedly admitted to colleagues now living in Cairo that Abu Nidal killed the three Lebanese and also that their bodies were dumped into the Mediterranean Sea weighted down with concrete cinder blocks tied to their legs.
After being shot in Janzour, the three bodies were flown that night of September 5, 1978 to Sobha an oasis city in the southwestern Libyan desert approximately 400 miles to the South of Tripoli which this observer visited in early August of 2011 with a former Libyan official. We were shown by locals the area where the three bodies were initially buried and were advised that the soil around unmarked grave had been immediately raked smooth so as disguise the burial site.
Sobha was and remains a Gadaffi tribal stronghold and was used from time to time according of former Libyan officials and local townspeople for secret burials. To the southeast of the town is a Libyan Airbase which used to include multiple Mig-25's. Largely destroyed by NATO aircraft in July of 2011, it is now also a hub for Libyan airlines.
During the burial of the Sadr delegation, an unanticipated problem arose. There was a hitch. Even though it was past midnight when the bodies were being buried, two or three villagers living nearby heard the noise of the shovels and voices and walked to the site to see what was happening. It was not the first time Sobha residents became aware of early morning burials in their town. The villagers did not speak. Rather they just watched for less than a minute and quickly departed.
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