A top Shiite cleric said Wednesday Libya's continued failure to disclose the fate of a fellow cleric, who disappeared on a trip to Tripoli in 1978, encouraged "kidnapping" operations to secure his return.
Imam Musa Sadr and two companions traveled to Libya on an official visit and promptly disappeared in August 1978.
Libya maintains that the three men flew to Rome after their visit to Libya, but an Italian inquiry a year later determined that other people using their identities had made the trip.
"It seems that some Arab regimes only understands the language of the terrorist Israeli state, it is as if they are telling us: kidnap in order to regain your detainees," said Mufti Abdel Amir Kabalan, vice-president of the Higher Shiite Council.
Kabalan was referring to the kidnapping of four Israeli servicemen by the Lebanese Shiite fundamentalist group Hezbollah last month to secure the release of Lebanese held in Israeli jails, some held for many years without charges.
"We are about to lose our patience ... so do not force us to raise our swords against the crime of kidnapping of Imam Musa Sadr and his two companions, which is similar to what Israel commits against our detainees."
Kabalan called on the "Libyan regime to show courage ... and reveal the truth about the fate of Imam Musa Sadr and his companions before it is too late.
"We consider that the Libyan regime is responsible for the issue of Imam Musa Sadr and his companions ... because they entered Libya upon an official invitation and on a Libyan plane, with Libyan tickets."
"They arrived in Tripoli, and people saw them in Libya and they disappeared in Libya and never went to Italy," he added.
Kabalan also denounced Lebanese authorities for receiving an envoy from Libyan leader Moammar Kadhafi on Tuesday.
Libya recalled its ambassador in Beirut last month after Lebanese Shiite House Speaker Nabih Berri failed to invite him to the October 17 opening session of the newly elected parliament.
Berri has been the leader of the Shiite Amal movement since 1980, two years after Sadr, the charismatic head of the group and then the president of the Higher Shiite Council, went missing.
In February, Berri refused to attend an official dinner given by President Emile Lahoud to honor Arab delegates because Libya's foreign minister was among those invited -- BEIRUT (AFP)
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