[The Musa Sadr Trilogy, part 3 of 3. For part 2 see Who Ordered the killing of Imam Musa Sadr and Why?For part 1 see When, Where, and How Imam Musa Sadr was Assassinated]
(Maison De Avocat, Beirut)
According to more than one Lebanese lawyers following the Hannibal Gadaffi case discussed above, Amal leader Nabeh Berri, among a small group in the Shia community learned about the death of Musa Sadr's delegation in Libya on September 11, 1978, less than two weeks after he and his companions, Sheik Mohammad Yaacoob, and journalist Abbas Badreddine were last seen in public at the Tripoli airport as they attempted to return to Lebanon. This, even though at the time Berri was living in the US. He was reportedly also told that the three bodies were dropped into the Mediterranean Sea.
According to Boursha Khalil, the former lawyer of Hannibal Gadaffi, certain current Amal officials and plenty of others in this region were told about the delegations fate shortly after its member's disappearance.
For financial, but also political reasons, lawyer Khail claims, some in Lebanon purposely played dumb, as many in Libya and elsewhere still do, in order to deceive Lebanon's Shia community with made up reports that Imam Sadr is still alive and has been seen from time to time in various Libyan prisons. Part of the rationale for the theatrics involves millions of dollars in annual donations from the credulous Shia community and others. For more than three decades thousands of billboards and posters have regularly been plastered around Lebanon. This campaign is reportedly viewed suspiciously and only designed to help with political and cash agendas.
According to Hannibal Gadhafi's former lawyer and others monitoring his case, the Sadr disappearance soon became all about political corruption and money, and remains so today. Increasingly, Lebanon's Shia community and others are asking why do certain political leaders who have had knowledge of Imam Musa Sadr's death for the past nearly 40 years continue to deceive the Lebanon's public into thinking that the Imam is alive and, as noted above, "Was recently seen in a Libyan prison"?
As recently as 8/31/2016 Amal leader Berri said in an address he gave Al-Kassam Square in the coastal Lebanese city of Tyre, marking the 38 annual commemoration of the disappearance of Imam Musa Sadr and his companions: "We have new evidence that until this day suggests that Al-Sadr and his comrades are alive." But what is that evidence, family members of the disappeared Musa Sadr delegation want to know.
Berri regularly repeats, as Amal staffers have more than once to this observer, that their bodies have not been found and indeed they were seen recently alive in a Libyan prison. Never mentioned are the claims from Libya and elsewhere that the bodies have decomposed nearly four decades in the Sea off Janzour, Liyba and that not one of the claimed "alive in a Libyan prison" sightings have ever been shown to be true. The fact of the matter is that there has ever been any probative evidence that Musa Sadr was ever seen alive since August 31, 1978. According to lawyer Khalil, and some family members of the disappeared, what the Shia community receives is "more smoke and mirrors and rumors being circulated and meant to deceive the public for political and financial objectives."
The hoax about Musa Sadr being seen alive in a Libyan prison was reportedly conceived by and implemented from the same sources outside of Lebanon, but not in Libya, that for similar political motives, made false claims about three Iranian diplomats and an IRNA photojournalist who were abducted in Lebanon on 4 July 1982. The diplomats disappeared after reaching the al-Barbareh checkpoint in northern Lebanon, at the hands of Lebanese Phalange forces headed by Samir Geagea. The four victims were stopped and abducted and reportedly imprisoned under the supervision of Elie Hobeika, a then Phalangist. None of them have been seen since nor their bodies recovered.
Similar to the Sadr case, Iranian officials, including Ghazanfar Roknabadi, former Iranian ambassador in Lebanon, repeatedly claimed that "there are concrete evidences proving that they are alive and imprisoned in Israel." Where is the evidence? For nearly four decades no evidence has ever been forthcoming despite assurances that "their whereabouts will be revealed soon."
The widely believed to be false claim about the Iranians being alive has been regularly repeated the past three decades by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, Iran's former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Iran's current Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan among others. France and the US accuse Gen.Dehghan, appointed by Iran's President Hasan Rouhani, as being the organizer of the US Marine Barracks and French compound bombings in October of 1983. Dehghan's role was also testified to by former Iranian Brigadier General Ali Reza Asgari, who according to Kai Bird author of The Good Spy, was "the man who built, promoted and founded Hezbollah," and is now under protective custody in the United States since his defection from the IRGC via Turkey in 2007.
At Iran's request, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has intensely investigated the disappearance case and several times followed up Iranian media claims with Israel officials. No evidence was ever found to support the "they were seen alive in an Israeli prison" claims.
Samir Geagea, who is still leader of the Lebanese Forces admitted that the Iranians died sometime shortly after their capture and were buried in what later became a construction site. Hobeika's security chief in the early 1980s, Robert Hatem, code-named "Cobra," accused him of "kidnapping and murdering four Iranians in 1982," in his published biography of Hobeika.
Some of the same people who want to keep the "Musa Sadr was seen in a prison" file open for political and financial reasons include some of the same individuals who concocted and continue to perpetuate the "the missing Iranian are in an Israeli prison" suspected hoax. More specifics about the relationship between the two cases and the individuals involved are documented in the above noted soon to be published Manuscript.
There are opinions being expressed by lawyers again this month who are monitoring the Hannibal Gadaffi case that Parliament Speaker Berri knows his credibility in being increasingly questioned by Musa Sadr supporters. These days Berri is apt to become irritated when questioned about his claims. When asked last month about the fact that is still repeating rumors that Musa Sadr has been seen in various Libyan prisons and that many are claiming that he is hiding the truth about Musa Sadr, Berri angrily replied "Do not try me in the Imam's case, not now and not later. Our stance will remain the same."