Memoirs of Sayyed Mohammad Sadr

By: Faezeh Sasanikhah
Translated By: Zahra Hosseinian


Making a fair judgement, the only period when the government of the Islamic Republic seriously tried to clarify the status of Imam Musa Sadr was during the government of Mr. Khatami and during the reform period.


What did Mr. Khatami's government do?


Mr. Khatami's government made a serious effort to follow up on his situation and bring it to an end. In the first step, when Mr. Khatami decided to take serious action, raised the issue with me and said: “when one of their nationals is imprisoned in a country, Westerners try and invest as much as they can to finally release and return them; and now, one of the great Shia clerics, Imam Musa Sadr, who was influential in Iran and Lebanon, has been kidnapped, and it is not known what’s happen for him, and we haven’t yet been able to carry out the necessary actions to clarify the matter.”

Mr. Khatami, who is intellectually influenced by the thoughts and ideas of Imam Musa Sadr, also emphasized that he intends to discuss this issue not because he belongs to the Sadr’s family[1], but because Imam Musa Sadr is one of the great Shia clerics and he has lofty and intellectual thoughts. He intended to follow up until, if necessary, to file a lawsuit against Gaddafi in international courts and bring him to the trial table. At that time, I was the deputy of Arab and African affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I told Mr. Khatami: “This pursuit needs the serious support of Ayatollah Khamenei, and that Mr. Khatami must have the positive opinion of the leadership.” He approved it, and in his meeting with Ayatollah Khamenei, he raised the issue and the leadership very seriously supported and emphasized that you should go as far as necessary and do everything you can.

Before the leadership’s support, some friends had told me about his meeting with Gaddafi, raising the issue of Imam Musa Sadr and Gaddafi's rude behaviour. Mr. Javaid Ghorban Oghli, the former director general of Africa, told me that during Ayatollah Khamenei's visit to Libya and his meeting with Colonel Gaddafi, he will also monitor the situation of Imam Musa Sadr. There, the colonel rudely insulted Imam Musa Sadr and introduced him insultingly as a Savak force and associated him with the Shah's regime. This behaviour was so disgusting that when Ayatollah Khamenei saw the discomfort of his delegation, told them: “Don't be upset; Now I make him embarrassed.” This is the same term used by Ayatollah Khamenei. In the same meeting, Ayatollah Khamenei turned Gaddafi off. This behaviour, of course, was not unique to Gaddafi, but his companions also had such rude manner, including the Abdessalam Jalloud’s behaviour.[2]

Ayatollah Khamenei himself explained this to me. When Jalloud came to Iran, he had a meeting with the members of the Central Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran Party, during which Shahid Beheshti told Jalloud that we want to follow up on the issue of Imam Musa Sadr through you. All of a sudden, he got angry and said rudely and loudly, why are you accusing us and things like this.


Finally, where did the follow-up of the situation of Imam Musa Sadr through the government or Mr. Khatami end up?


I told Mr. Khatami to discuss this issue with the leadership and get their support. Because I knew that some people or groups are interested in maintaining relations with Libya; whether economic or military relations or otherwise. Some people in these groups were sore at Imam Musa Sadr, and as a result, there was no desire to follow his fate. And I was aware of these issues.


Who were these people and groups?


Good question, but I don't know if I should say these things or not. For posterity, I say that it did not matter to many whether Imam Musa Sadr has been killed, stolen, or even he is alive. One of the reasons was that it was thought that Imam Musa Sadr and Imam Khomeini did not have a good relationship. Some revolutionaries, especially those who were with Imam Khomeini in Iraq, in addition to not being sensitive to the fate of Imam Musa Sadr, they also stated that it was a good thing that Gaddafi killed Imam Musa, because he was not a revolutionary at all and did not benefit the revolution. Unfortunately, these opinions were also extended to the Islamic Republic.


Could it be said that the other reason was neglecting the fate of Imam Musa Sadr?


Yes. The war and weapons needs for Libya, and that Gaddafi gave Iran missiles that we did not have, in contrast to the missiles were at Saddam’s disposal. This also made the matter not taken seriously. During the presidency of Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, I don't know why, but the case of Imam Musa Sadr was not taken seriously.


And where did Mr. Khatami's proposal end?


Shortly after Mr. Khatami's proposal was presented to the leadership, some people said that since Imam Musa Sadr is the uncle of so-and-so (they meant me) and has a family relationship with Mr. Khatami and he is also the president, they want to pursue the matter, and disrupt the relationship with Libya; but thanks to God, Ayatollah Khamenei himself was more aware of the issue and knew us as well, so they rejected the opinion of those people. Therefore, the follow up started after approval and support from the leadership. Of course, negotiations were conducted confidentially. Mr. Abtahi, who was head of the presidential office, was responsible for negotiations on behalf of Mr. Khatami, and on behalf of Gaddafi, his son, Saif al-Islam. Several sessions of negotiations were held and followed up regularly, even Saif al-Islam took steps for cooperation and expressed some things... But I should say that after three or four months, Saif al-Islam retracted all his words and denied everything he had said and admitted, and again brought up the same issue that Imam Musa Sadr went to Rome, and we were not aware of the related issues at all. Dictator people are like this; they easily retract.[3]

[1] Mr. Sayyed Mohammad Khatami is my aunt's son-in-law. In fact, he is married to my cousin, Ms. Zohreh Sadeghi, and the mediator of this marriage was the late Mr. Ali Hojjati Kermani. (Sadr)

[2] Abdessalam Jalloud was one of the officers of the Free Unity of Libya in the September 1st 1969 coup and after that he played a role in various political positions including Prime Minister between 1972-1977. Jalloud was once the second man in Libya after Gaddafi, and Imam Musa Sadr was kidnapped during his tenure as prime minister. He was one of the few people in the close circle of Gaddafi's supporters who knew and is still aware of the fate of Imam Sadr.

[3] Source: Qobadi, Mohammad, Revolution and Diplomacy in the Memoirs of Sayyed Mohammad Sadr, Surah Mehr, 2013, p. 232.

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