Across the Bay

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Musa Sadr and the Islamic Republican Party

My column this week is on Musa Sadr's disappearance in Libya 32 years ago. I briefly note a couple of quotes by some authors about the possible role played by Khomeini and some of his lieutenants in the disappearance, while exploring the politics and history behind it.

Of course, there's much more. For instance, Dick Norton, whom I reference in the piece, cites in his book on Amal "one of al-Sadr's close associates, a man who was directly involved in investigating the disappearance, who believes that the imam was murdered as a result of a Syrian-Libyan-Iranian plot. ... According to the former associate, it was the Syrians, and particularly Foreign Minister Khaddam, who urged al-Sadr to accept the Libyan invitation..."

Other accounts claim that it was the Algerians who made the suggestion for Sadr to visit Libya in order to clear the air with the Libyans, whose media organs in Lebanon had been attacking Sadr incessantly. Of course, the Libyans, the Syrians, the Algerians and the PLO were the only Arab actors whose support the new Islamic regime in Iran was able to secure at the time.

You can also consult Peter Theroux's The Strange Disappearance of Imam Moussa Sadr for more. For instance, he references an article in An-Nahar that is relevant to my piece:

"The Sadr Brigades Organization [formed by the Imam's sister to avenge his disappearance] has revealed the following...

A certain Jalaleddine Farsi, who had run for president in Iran, then withdrawn his candidacy, as his great-grandfather was of Afghani origin, thus rendering him ineligible, by the terms of the Iranian constitution, and the late Muhammad Saleh Husseini, then Imam Khomeini's Mideast representative and director of Islamic liberation movements, met on August 26, 1978, with Major General Saleh Abu Shereida, chief of Libyan Intelligence and close confidant of Qaddafi at the Beirut International Hotel.

Abu Shereida had entered Lebanon that same day on a forged Moroccan passport. He had a lengthy meeting with the two men and left Beirut on the morning of August 28.

That afternoon, Husseini met an Amal official he knew slightly and told him, 'I'm heading to Libya -- is there anything I can do for you there?' 'No, have a good trip and give my regards to Imam Sadr,' was the reply. Husseini answered, 'Whatever you say, but you might as well know your friend isn't coming back.'

On the evening of August 27, 1978, Husseini and Farsi flew to Libya. We have documentary evidence that proces the two were among the kidnappers of the Imam and his companions, and thought it right to share it with the masses and the officials of the Islamic Republic.

Farsi [whose father, actually, was of Afghan origin] and Husseini were two figures in the Islamic Republican Party who were particularly close to Arafat's Fateh movement and allied with Mohammad Montazeri. Farsi in particular became a strong critic and enemy of Sadr and his ally in the Iranian regime, Mostafa Chamran. The mention of these two figures in particular by Musa Sadr's entourage works well with the thrust of my article and with the argument about the involvement of Iranian cadres close to the Libyans and the Palestinians.