The Lebanese satellite television station, al-Manar, says it has footage of Libya’s Gaddafi in which the embattled ruler has confessed to Sadr’s presence in the crisis-hit North African state.
“This person (Imam Moussa) disappeared and nobody knows how. I wish we knew who’s responsible for the issue. On one hand we missed him and on the other Libya’s image has been tarnished; namely, we invited him and he accepted. He came to Libya and vanished. Someone seeks to disrepute Libya,” Gaddafi is quoted as saying in the video recording more than 25 years ago.
The renowned Shia cleric and two of his companions went missing during an official visit to Libya some 30 years ago. The case has been a long-standing sore issue in Lebanon, where authorities blame Gaddafi and his aides for the disappearance of the three.
Accompanied by two of his companions, Mohammed Yaqoub and Abbas Badreddin, Sadr was scheduled to meet with officials from the government of Gaddafi.
At the time, Libyan authorities claimed that the Iranian-born influential cleric and his colleagues had caught a flight to Rome, Italy. But Italian officials said the three men were never on board the plane.
Born in the Iranian holy city of Qom, Sadr went to Lebanon in 1959 to work for the civil rights of Shias in the southern city of Tyre. In 1974, a year before Lebanon’s 15-year civil war broke out, he founded the Movement of the Deprived, attracting thousands of followers.
In 1975, Sadr founded Amal, the first major resistance and political force for Lebanon’s Shias who were historically under the rule of Christians and Sunnis.
Imam Sadr was an impressive figure, well over 1.85 meters (6.0′) tall, wore the black turban of a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and was a skilled orator, with a Persian-accented Arabic.
Regarded as a moderate, he urged cooperation with other faiths. His biggest success may have been that his preaching for Shia dignity changed the way the Shias of Lebanon thought of themselves.
Most of Sadr’s followers are convinced that Gaddafi ordered his assassination in a dispute over Libyan payments to Lebanese groups, but the Imam’s family argues he could still be alive in a Libyan jail.
In 2008, the government in Beirut issued an arrest warrant for Gaddafi over Sadr’s disappearance.