The Lebanese judge investigating the 1978 disappearance in Libya of Imam Musa Sadr has issued an arrest warrant for Qaddafi’s once close colleague Abdessalam Jalloud.
He was deputy leader of the Revolutionary Command Council under Qaddafi in the initial years after the 1969 coup and served as prime minister from mid-1972 to early 1977.
He later fell out with Qaddafi, notably over Qaddafi’s Green Book ideology.
He reportedly came out in support of the 2011 revolution in August when he left the country.
He is said to now be in Italy.
The case of Musa Sadr remains politically sensitive in Lebanon and continues to bedevil relations with Libya. The Shiite imam, who was originally from Iran, founded the now politically dominant Amal movement in Lebanon.
In late August 1978, he along with a colleague, Sheikh Muhammad Yaacoub, and journalist Abbas Badreddine arrived in Tripoli to take part in the anniversary celebrations of the 1 September coup.
There was a meeting with Qaddafi after which the three were never publicly seen again. It was long believed that there had been an argument between Sadr and Qaddafi at the meeting after which Qaddafi ordered the murder of Sadr and his colleagues.
To cover up, the regime then claimed that they had left Libya on a flight to Rome and disappeared there.
In March 2013, though, Qaddafi’s spy master Abdullah Senussi was quoted saying that the three had been held in prison for two years in Libya before being killed and buried in Libya by Palestinian militant Abu Nidal who murdered them at Qaddafi’s request.
Shiites in Lebanon, however, doggedly cling to the hope that Sadr is still alive – he would now be 89 years old – and still being held in a jail in Libya – a virtual impossibility, given that such an imprisonment could not have been kept secret in the six years since the end of the 2011 revolution.
Just two months ago at a rally in Beirut to mark the 39th anniversary of Sadr’s disappearance attended by thousands of Amal supporters, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament and head of Amal, Nabih Berri again claimed that the imam was still alive and promised that the search for him and his two companions would continue.
The decision by Judge Zaher Hamad to issue a warrant for Jalloud’s arrest is seen as a response to that promise, although it is not clear if Jalloud is suspected of involvement in the disappearance or is simply wanted in order to help investigations into it.