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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Who Was Behind the Killing of Imam Musa Sadr?

Filed under: Iran, Iranian Terrorism, Radical Islam, The Middle East
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review
Volume 31, Numbers 1-2

The special figure of Musa Sadr, a Lebanese imam of Iranian origin, continues to intrigue even though he disappeared in Libya more than four decades ago. Three detailed books have been written about the vanished imam and dozens of articles have discussed Sadr’s meteoric rise – from moving to Lebanon from Iran in 1959 to becoming the Mufti of Tyre, the head of the Lebanese Shiite community, and part of the religious and political elite of Lebanon and the Arab world.

Most of the research has focused on the charismatic figure of Sadr; on his historical role in changing the Lebanese Shiites from an oppressed, marginal group without influence to an important community that spawned the Shiite protest movement Harakat al-Mahroumin and its militia, the Amal movement – and it was from these that the Islamic Republic of Iran formed Hizbullah. Although very important, the studies have left an obvious lacuna regarding the relations between Imam Sadr and monarchic Iran. Very few studies have focused on this special connection, even though Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi put his intelligence and security organization, the SAVAK, on the case. The SAVAK tracked Sadr from his studies in the religious seminaries of Qom in the late 1950s, to his arrival in Lebanon to replace Abd al-Hussein Sharaf al-Din as Mufti of Tyre, to his mysterious disappearance in Libya in 1978.

After the Islamic Revolution in Iran, three thick volumes of SAVAK documents on Musa Sadr were published there. It was from them that the story of the imam’s life emerged, including his complex relations with the Shah and with the latter’s revolutionary opponents who in the 1970s found refuge in Lebanon, which became the breeding ground for the Islamic revolutionaries as they prepared themselves for the revolt in Iran. These documents form the basis for the book by Arash Reisinezhad, The Shah of Iran, the Iraqi Kurds, and the Lebanese Shia, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018.

The book explores the Shah’s relations with the Kurds of Iraq and with the Shiites of Lebanon. This article scrutinizes only the Shah’s special relationship with the Shiites of Lebanon. Reisinezhad masterfully traces the course of Musa Sadr’s life through the prism of mostly secret SAVAK reports, some of which were published in Reisinezhad’s book for the first time, as well as memoirs, articles, and interviews of Iranians who were active in Lebanon before the revolution. In many regards the SAVAK documents on the figure of Musa Sadr fill in what is lacking in the late Fouad Ajami’s excellent biography The Vanished Imam: Musa al Sadr and the Shia of Lebanon.

Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s policy in Lebanon hinged on the effort to counteract the pan-Arab aspirations of Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser in the Middle East. The Shah saw the Lebanese Shiite community as a cornerstone for Iran’s non-state foreign policy, including joint anti-Egyptian activity with the Lebanese Maronites. The Shah delegated the practical responsibility for this policy to the SAVAK, not to the Iranian Foreign Ministry. The complexity and sensitivity of the issue required non diplomatic tools, and the intelligence organization held a senior status when it came to contending with political and other subversion outside Iran’s borders.

The SAVAK saw Imam Sadr as a leading political figure in Lebanon. When in 1966 he established the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council, which was the first religious-political organization of the Shiite community in Lebanon, Sadr was at the outset of his political life, as a SAVAK report (the quoted text hereafter is from Reisinezhad’s book) makes clear:

Seyyed Mousa Sadr is a Shia clergy with a “strange” position in Lebanon as such that he has become the “Heart of Beirut.” No Lebanese [politician] dares to disobey his commands.  Whenever he leaves or enters Lebanon for his short trips, all Beirut elites should welcome him. He is far more powerful than [the] Lebanese President. One can easily find his images in all Lebanese newspapers and magazines as well as Beirut bazaars…. Sadr has established various foundations in Beirut. He is the head of the Shia council and was entitled Imam by his followers. [There was a rumor that] the Leban[ese] President feared his power.  All military generals are Sadr’s Fedayeen.  It would be unbelievable if any political actor disobeys his orders…. There is no power beyond Sadr’s power in Beirut and whenever he intends, he travels to any part of the world with a special ceremony…. In short, Sadr means Lebanon and Lebanon means Sadr.

To make his way into the political elite in Beirut, Sadr needed a strong ally who was outside of Lebanon and wielded great influence within it. He rightly assessed the constitutional crisis in Syria, which centered on the constitution’s stipulation that the president of the country should be a Muslim. The violent disturbances that erupted in Syria in 1973 intensified President Assad’s need for religious legitimacy that would afford him political capability. Assad was in distress. His Alawite ethnic origin did not sit well with the constitution’s demand because the Alawites, up to that point, had not been recognized as Muslims. Sadr – who, as noted, needed a strong ally – volunteered to help President Assad. Making use of his role as chairman of the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council, Sadr appointed Sheikh Ali Mansur, a local Alawite cleric, to the post of J‘afari (a Shiite school of thought that is part of the Twelver or Imamiyyah [Arabic: إمامية ] branch, the largest branch of Shiite Islam) Mufti of the city of Tripoli and northern Lebanon, and thereby determined – with an administrative-political, not religious-theological act – that the Alawites were J‘afari Shiites. In his study Arash Reisinezhad repeats the widespread mistaken notion that Sadr issued what he calls a “historic fatwa,” a religious ruling that the Alawites were Shiites. Sadr, however, did not have a sufficiently senior religious status to make a ruling of such theological-religious importance. As evidence, when the imam needed a much simpler religious such as Zabiha (Arabic for slaughter regulations for beef) as part of efforts to improve the Shiites’ relations with the Maronites and other non-Muslim communities, Sadr asked the prominent Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim to issue an unorthodox and more flexible fatwa on the Zabiha issue.

Although Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim Khoei, an influential religious authority in the Shiite world, accepted this ruling, Ayatollah Khomeini rejected the fatwa and opposed any change in religious law. If, in the case of Zabiha, Sadr needed a ruling by more senior sources of religious authority than himself, he could hardly have dared to issue a fatwa on a theological-religious issue of the first order such as recognizing the Alawites as Muslims. Indeed, up until the present no such fatwa has been issued at all; if it had existed it certainly would have been famous. Later, at the beginning of 1975, Sadr took another step – sometime after the appointment of Mansur – toward recognizing the Alawites as Shiites when he held a burial ceremony at the grave of the firstborn brother of President Assad, Ahmed bin Ali bin Suleiman, in Latakia. 

Arash Reisinezhad rightly focuses on the negative role of General Mansur Qadr, the Shah’s senior representative in Lebanon, vis-à-vis Musa Sadr. In August 1973, Mansur Qadr was appointed Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon in addition to his role as head of the SAVAK station in Beirut – a  position of great power and influence in the country that the Shah saw as supremely important in the Middle East. Qadr wanted to recruit Imam Sadr as an agent, but the imam refused; he was only prepared to express his loyalty to Iran and the Shah.  

The claim that Sadr was already recruited by the SAVAK in Iran before coming to Lebanon is baseless. Sadr was called upon to replace Abd al-Hussein Sharaf al-Din, who had died and left the Shiites of Tyre and southern Lebanon without religious leadership. The son of Sharaf al-Din, J’aafar Sharaf al-Din, lacked an aptitude for the position, and according to one testimony he himself asked Musa Sadr’s older brother, Reza Sadr, to convince Musa to lead the Shiites of Tyre. Also involved in the task of bringing Musa Sadr to Lebanon were the senior Shiite clerics Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim Khoei and  Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim in Najaf, Iraq, and Ayatollah Sayyed Hossein Borujerdi in Iran.

The young and ambitious Sadr saw Lebanon as a new arena of activity in which he could free himself of the limitations under which clerics operated in Iran and fulfill his goal of engaging in politics as well. Thus, at the end of 1959, Sadr came to Tyre.

The SAVAK was aware that Musa Sadr had been sent to Lebanon. General Teymur Bakhtair, the founder and head of the SAVAK from 1956 to 1961, met with Sadr, was favorably impressed with him, and gave him his blessing, without which it would have been difficult for Sadr to operate in the new country. Sadr became part of Iran’s non-state foreign policy in Lebanon, but in no way as a SAVAK agent. Unknown to many is the fact that Musa Sadr had an agent inside the Iranian embassy in Beirut. The agent was in charge of following the Lebanese press and the translation of important news items into Farsi, which were presented to Mansur Qadr and sent afterward to Tehran. By virtue of his position, this agent was allowed to enter the communications room in the embassy and thus was able to read the different reports that were sent to the SAVAK in Tehran. In an interview in October 2013, the agent declared: “There were a lot of times when I encountered delicate situations and I succeeded in getting information and transmitting it to Sadr and Dr. Chamran.” He added that the information collected was instrumental to the revolutionaries in their struggle against the Shah. It is interesting to note that when Sadr wanted to bring especially important and discreet information to the Shah’s attention, he did not do so via Qadr or the SAVAK; he had other ways, no less reliable.

In his book The Fall of Heaven, Andrew S. Cooper noted that in 1973 Sadr made use of his Iranian friend Ali Kani, who was part of the political establishment in Tehran and close to the Shah, and with whom Sadr would meet frequently in Beirut. Sadr gave Kani a 20-page booklet that was written in Arabic and contained the concise thoughts of Khomeini. This was the bound version of the Grand Ayatollah’s lectures calling for an overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of an Islamic government.

Sadr warned that “this is the juice of a sick mind” and requested that the work be brought to the knowledge of the Shah. The booklet was printed in 200,000 copies and disseminated in the universities so that the intellectuals would be able to read Khomeini’s words and learn who he really was. “The Shah read it and he loved it,” Kani reported to Sadr; the monarch, in other words, saw that he could make use of the booklet.

Sadr’s relations with Imam Khomeini were complex. Sadr was not an enthusiastic supporter of him; he did not recognize Khomeini as the Marja‘ Taqlid (the supreme religious authority of the Shiite world) and opposed the most important element of Khomeini’s doctrine, Velayat-e Faqih (Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist). When Sadr entered his office in the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council in Beirut in May 1969, he hung on the wall a picture of Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim, who was based in Najaf and whom he saw as the Marja‘ Taqlid of the Lebanese Shiites. Khomeini’s associates were baffled by Sadr’s disregard.

Sadr had already known Khomeini while the imam was still living in Iran. Reisinezhad notes that Sadr also played a key role in saving Khomeini from execution in the wake of the bloody riots against the Shah that supporters of the imam organized in Iran in June 1963. Apart from that point, Reisinezhad does not elaborate.

A short time after Khomeini was exiled to Bursa in Turkey and from there to Najaf, Sadr helped the imam get an initial interview with a foreign newspaper. It was Lucien George, a reporter for Le Monde who converted to Islam through Sadr, who interviewed Khomeini in Najaf. The imam acknowledged Sadr’s assistance. Reisinezhad gives a quotation from the SAVAK documents stating that the imam had good relations with Sadr, respected him, and was apparently considering him as his replacement.   

It appears that this description is exaggerated and was part of the SAVAK’s attempts to make Sadr look bad in the eyes of the Shah; other reports pointed to tension between him and Khomeini or even described their relations as poor. Hajj Mostafa, the imam’s son who managed his affairs in Najaf, bore a deep grudge against Sadr, among other things because he thought he did not respect Khomeini’s religious authority and because of Sadr’s close relations with the major Shiite sources of authority who opposed Khomeini.

In April 1968, Sadr visited Khomeini in Najaf and the young son of the imam, Akhmad, visited Beirut several times and met with Sadr as an emissary of his father. Reisinezhad notes that when the Baath regime’s pressure on the Shiite clerics in Najaf intensified, Musa Sadr invited Khomeini to move from Najaf to Lebanon. This invitation, says the author, was respectfully rejected. We did not find evidence for Sadr inviting Khomeini to Lebanon. The source that the author cites, the memoirs of Mansur Qadr, do not mention at all that in a letter sent from Sadr to Khomeini and seized by a SAVAK agent, Sadr invited the imam to Lebanon. Mohammad Hassan al-Amin, one of the leading Shiite clerics in Lebanon, says in his memoirs that Yasser Arafat proposed inviting Khomeini from Najaf to Lebanon and arranging a place for him to live in the Beq‘aa Valley. Mohammad Hassan al-Amin himself, who met with the imam in Najaf and invited him to move to Lebanon, does not mention Musa Sadr at all in this context. Al-Amin promised Khomeini that the Palestinian leadership would take care of his security and other needs in Lebanon. The imam replied that he would think about it. After a short time Ali Akbar Mohtashami, Khomeini’s close adviser and emissary to the Palestinian leadership, brought Khomeini’s response to Arafat. Mohammad Hassan al-Amin was present at the meeting between Mohtashami and Arafat, which was positive. Following that meeting, the practical preparations began for bringing the imam to the Beq‘aa Valley in Lebanon. The sensitive question was what position President Assad would adopt. Without him it was impossible to do anything in Lebanon – and particularly in the Beq‘aa Valley, which was controlled by the Syrian army.

Assad refused to allow Khomeini to move to Lebanon. Mohammad Hassan al-Amin noted in his memoirs that Assad’s refusal was based on his conviction that the Islamic Revolution would not achieve its goals, and that the Shah, with American and Western help, would succeed to quash it. Assad, al-Amin noted, also feared the Shah’s reaction against Syria if Khomeini were to come to the Beq‘aa. As al-Amin recounted: “I received a letter from Arafat and I met with Khomeini in Najaf. I had a written message and an oral message. In the meeting I learned that Khomeini was thinking of another alternative to Lebanon but he did not talk about it, and it turned out that he left Najaf for France.”

Opponents of the Shah who were active in Lebanon from the beginning of the 1970s were divided into two main groups, which competed with each other over the nature of the revolution in Iran, how to achieve it, and on positions of power in its leadership. Their dispute in Lebanon revolved around two main issues: the attitude toward the Palestinians in Lebanon and the attitude of the Lebanese Shiite community toward Velayat-e Faqih. According to this central plank in Khomeini’s revolutionary doctrine, only clerics could lead the Islamic state.

The Iranian revolutionaries received military aid, primarily in the form of weapons training, from the Fatah organization, and to a lesser extent in the camps of the radical Palestinian organizations. When Musa Sadr established the Amal movement in 1974, he put the militia organizations under the command of Dr. Mostafa Chamran, who admired Sadr and saw him as “the successor of the Imam Hussein.” Chamran took his doctorate in the United States and was invited to direct Musa Sadr’s technical school in Burj al-Shemali near Tyre. Chamran was connected to Ayatollah Mahmoud Taleghani, a senior Shiite cleric, to Mehdi Bazargan, an Iranian scholar and politician who was the country’s first prime minister after the 1979 revolution, and to the Liberation Movement of Iran; he was eventually appointed the first defense minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian revolutionaries came to Lebanon through Syria and directly from Europe, trained with weapons, and prepared themselves for the revolution. The claim by Hani al-Hassan, the first Palestinian ambassador in Tehran after the revolution, that about 10,000 Iranians trained in Lebanon is exaggerated. Mostafa Chamran posited a more realistic number of a few dozen Iranians who were training there in the 1970s. The ideological dispute between the two Iranian groups created rivalries between them, sometimes bitter. This decisively affected the attitude of the radical Islamist groups that opposed Mostafa Chamran, Musa Sadr, and others from the Liberation Movement of Iran. The prominent figures in this group were Mohammad Montazeri, Jalal al-Din Farsi, Ali Akbar Mohtashami, and Akhmad Nafri, who were joined by Mohammad Salah Husseini, who arrived from Iraq and became the leading figure in the relationship between the Iranian revolutionaries and Fatah. Musa Sadr’s recognition of Ayatollah Muhsin al-Hakim, and, after his death, of Ayatollah Abu al-Qasim Khoei  as the Marja‘ Taqlid, while ignoring Khomeini as a source of authority, prompted antagonism and anger among Khomeini’s supporters in Najaf and Lebanon, whom Ali Akbar Mohtashami incited. Sadr’s opponents also knew that he did not support Velayat-e Faqih. The important piece of information that it was Sadr himself who conveyed to the Shah, through a common friend, Khomeini’s book Al-Hukuma al-Islamiyya (Arabic for “The Islamic Government”), which expounds on Velayat-e Faqih as a form of governance, remained secret.

The issue of how to regard the Palestinians inflamed the dispute between the Iranian groups in Lebanon. The opponents of Sadr, particularly Mohtashami and Farsi, observed with concern the sometimes violent struggle between Musa Sadr and Mostafa Chamran on the one hand, and the Palestinians in Lebanon on the other. At one of the low points of this dynamic, which followed the fall of the Shiite quarter of Nab‘aah in Beirut to the Christian militias, Chamran wrote a letter from Lebanon to Mehdi Bazargan in Tehran. In the letter, which was written in 1977 and ran to 42 pages, the Iranian revolutionary harshly criticized the Palestinian movement for its ideological impoverishment and its moral failure. He did not spare his rod from the Palestinian leadership including Yasser Arafat himself, whom he accused of being unable to control his organization and his subordinates. This leadership, he wrote, had inflicted harm on the Shiite population.

Mohtashami, who at that time was at the school in Burj al-Shemali, described in his memoirs the tribulations caused to the Shiite population. But what particularly concerned him were Sadr’s statements against the Palestinians in a Friday sermon in Tyre.

I felt that the statements, which until then were spoken in whispers and in secrecy among the clerics and the preachers in southern Lebanon, implied that the supposed reason for the Israeli attack was the presence of the Palestinians and the bases they had set up in the area. And if the Palestinians leave and therefore do not attack Israel, it will not attack southern Lebanon. Statements in that vein worried me and I sensed a danger to the Palestinians’ future. Because statements in that vein influence public opinion among the residents of the south against the Palestinians and create an atmosphere that will prevent them from continuing to attack Israel. Therefore I decided to return immediately to Iraq [to Najaf] and report to the imam [Khomeini] and explain to him the different aspects of this danger.

Mohtashami reported to the imam in detail about what was happening in southern Lebanon, and clearly he raged against Musa Sadr. The “fear,” Mohtashami told Khomeini, was that “the propaganda and the rumors that the gentlemen [Sadr and Chamran] have voiced against the Palestinian refugees and fighters could provoke clashes between the Shiites and the Palestinians. The imam heard my report and was very perturbed. I will not forget the consternation and the sorrow that were evident on his face…. All the disasters since the beginning of Islam were caused by these gentlemen.” Mohtashami was alluding to Sadr and Chamran, and he summed up by saying that he “felt despair over the political path and the antirevolutionary attitude of Mr. Sadr.”  

The results of Israel’s Litani Operation in March 1978 aggravated the enmity between the Shiites and the Palestinians in southern Lebanon. The rift between the radical Iranian group, in Lebanon and outside it, and Imam Sadr could no longer be bridged. As they saw it, Sadr had gone too far. The road to his elimination was paved. The radical group – Jalal  al-Din Farsi, Ali Akhbar Mohtashami, Mohammad Montazeri, Mohammad Beheshti, and Mohammad Salah Husseini – decided the fate of Musa Sadr, who was perceived as culpable on the following counts:

  • Compromising the Palestinian revolution and the Palestinians’ ability to act against Israel from Lebanon. Farsi, Mohtashami, Montazeri, and Husseini also feared an ongoing clash between the Palestinians and the Shiites that would weaken the Palestinian military presence in Lebanon and the legitimacy of the struggle against Israel. Montazeri saw the leaders of Amal as “Maronite agents” and the special connections of the Lebanese Shiite movement as constricting Iran’s freedom of action in developing its ties with Libya and the Palestinians, whom he regarded as the spearhead of the Islamic jihad against Israel. “We,” Montazeri attested, “those who uphold the line of the imam, have taken practical steps toward forming an Iran-Palestine-Libya axis while the heads of the Liberation Movement have striven shamelessly to distance us from Palestine and from Libya.” In March 1979, Montazeri was Gaddafi’s honored guest in the celebrations for British Evacuation Day (the anniversary of the evacuation of British military forces from Libya in 1970) and at the end of 1979 he was active in recruiting thousands of Iranian volunteers and bringing them to Lebanon to defend its south.
  • The nonrecognition of Khomeini’s religious authority as the Marja‘ Taqlid and of the principle of Velayat-e Faqih put Sadr on the front line of the adversaries. His opponents saw this as heresy against Velayat-e Faqih and thought it was linked to Sadr’s support for the Shah. Years later, when Khomeini died and Hujjat al-Islam Khamenei was appointed to the high-ranking post, the Lebanese Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah also refused to recognize Velayat-e Faqih and was almost killed by the person who was his bodyguard and later became the leader of Hizbullah’s military wing – ‘Imad Mughniyeh. Some, such as Mohammad Beheshti, were concerned about the future and saw Sadr not only as a rival and an opponent of the revolutionary path but also as a future competitor for the day on which the imam would die. Beheshti was aware of the great admiration Sadr had won among the supporters of the Liberation Movement of Iran and also among some of the senior clerics who had not recognized Khomeini’s religious authority.

Mohammad Beheshti was linked to Sadr’s death for the first time by Kai Bird in his book The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames, a biography of a senior CIA official who was well familiar with Lebanon and was killed in the October 1983 bombing of the American embassy in Beirut. Ames maintained close ties with Ali Hassan Salameh, then head of intelligence for the Palestine Liberation Organization. At Ames’ request, Salameh gave him a detailed account of Imam Sadr’s fate:

Qadafi had agreed to host a meeting between Musa Sadr and one of his theological rivals, the Imam, Mohammed Beheshti…a close political ally of Ayatollah Khomeini…. The Libyan dictator wanted the two men to set aside their theological disputes and cooperate on a common, anti-western political agenda…. Musa Sadr and Beheshti were supposed to meet in Tripoli…. Beheshti told Qadafi – over the phone – to detain Musa Sadr by all means necessary. Beheshti assured Qadafi that Imam Sadr was a western agent…. Qadafi called Beheshti who told him Musa Sadr was a threat to Khomeini…. Musa Sadr and his…companions had been summarily executed and buried.…

Musa Sadr’s son-in-law, Mehdi Firozan, claimed that Jalal al-Din Farsi, who was close to Gaddafi, was responsible for the imam’s death and hinted that the motivation was to eliminate any possibility that Sadr would succeed Khomeini.

Sadeq Tabatabaei, one of the prominent figures among the Iranian revolutionaries who were active in Lebanon and a relative of Musa Sadr, wrote in his memoirs that Farsi did not spare any effort to undermine Sadr. Tabatabaei accused Farsi of distorting the facts, claiming that Sadr strove to get some of the Iranian revolutionaries, including Farsi himself, expelled from Lebanon even though the truth was the opposite. He noted that Farsi regularly gave false reports to Imam Khomeini in Najaf in order to incite him against Sadr. Farsi conveyed similar false information, seeking to harm Sadr, to the heads of the Liberation Movement of Iran who lived outside of Iran. He portrayed Sadr as a supporter of the Shah and as acting against the Palestinians.

Sadr’s right-hand man, Dr. Mostafa Chamran, complained that Farsi and Mohammad Salah Husseini were spreading rumors and lies “against us everywhere…and portraying us as lowly spies.”

Farsi also influenced senior clerics who were living in Iran. One of them, Hajj Manian, who was indoctrinated by Farsi, was invited to come and see for himself how Shiites from the Amal movement were fighting Christians; he had been convinced that Amal was cooperating with the Phalanges against the Palestinians. Hajj Manian, wrote Tabatabaei in his memoirs, “saw with his own eyes how young Amal members were fighting in the front line against the Christians and only behind them were Fatah forces…. He truly trembled when he saw the facts. I am in despair over the campaign of slanders against us…. The result of all the propaganda against us is that all our friends in Iran suspect our intentions.”

Imam Khomeini was already elderly when he came to power and it can be assumed that his associates discussed the issue of his successor. Some of them supported Ayatollah Ali Montazeri, the father of Mohammad Montazeri; another group supported Mohammad Beheshti; and there were some who favored Imam Sadr. Even if this was a weak possibility, Sadr’s adversaries wanted to get rid of it. Four decades after Sadr’s killing, Farsi expressed his view of the Lebanese imam: “When I was in Lebanon the revolutionaries surrounded me and not him. He [Sadr] had good ties with the Shah. He would say that our clerics should go to churches and the priests should pray in our mosques…. It was necessary to rebel, to revolt; to oppose, to object to, to protest against him. It was necessary to kill him for these things. We saw that there was no value [in killing him] because Muammar Gaddafi killed him.”

Musa Sadr was killed in Libya. Even since the fall of the Gaddafi regime, no remains have been found of the vanished imam. His pursuers took power in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the story of Musa Sadr’s execution  is still untold and probably will never be known. Some of them – Mohammad Montazeri, Mohammad Beheshti, and Mohammad Salah Husseini – took the secret to their graves, and some of them – Jalal al-Din Farsi and Ali Akbar Mohtashami – are still keeping the secret. The great irony is that the torchbearers of the path of Farsi, Mohtashami, and their fellow opponents of Sadr now embrace the new movement that Iran established in Lebanon – Hizbullah, which is now adopting the legacy of Musa Sadr. In Hizbullah’s eyes, Sadr has become one of the movement’s founding fathers, and Hassan Nasrallah praises him each year in special superlatives for the heroes of Islam who are immortalized in Hizbullah’s pantheon.