Reporter Who Broke U.S.-Iran Arms Story Looking For Next Scoop With PM-US-Iran-Contra Rdp, Bjt
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ The Lebanese journalist who first revealed secret U.S. arms sales to Iran says an attempt on his life hasn’t slowed his search for the next big scoop of his career.
″I am proud I was the first person to break this story, although I did not know in the beginning that it was going to shake (President) Reagan or be given that political importance,″ said Hassan Sabra, publisher and editor of the weekly magazine Ash-Shiraa.
″I would not hesitate to report a similar story again even at the risk of another attempt on my life,″ he added in an interview Thursday.
Sabra, 38, was wounded by a gunman riding in a motorcycle sidecar on Sept. 14.He suffered gunshot wounds in the head, neck, jaw and chest and spent three weeks in the hospital.
Sabra’s comments came one day after congressional investigators in Washington said in their final report that Reagan bears ultimate responsibility for the Iran-Contra affair because he allowed zealots to seize control of policy and bypass the law.
Some proceeds from the sales of arms to Iran were diverted to Contra rebels fighting the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. In addition, arms were shipped to Iran in exchange for the release of American hostages in Lebanon.
Sabra, a Shiite Moslem, said he ran the story not only for professional reasons. ″It also was a political commitment in order to show that what the Iranian government called the Great Satan had become a main arms supplier to Iran to carry on its crazy war against Iraq,″ he said.
Iran has been at war with Iraq since September 1980.
Sabra gained international fame when his magazine made the first revelation last Nov. 1 of a secret deal to exchange arms for hostages.
Twenty-two foreigners, including eight Americans, are missing after being kidnapped in Lebanon. In addition, Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite of Britain is missing after he vanished last January during a mission to mediate with Islamic Jihad, which holds some of the hostages.
Sabra is known to have close ties with Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, designated successor of Iran’s revolutionary patriarch, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Montazeri heads the militant wing in the Iranian government, which opposes any deals with the United States and which had criticized moderates, including Parliament Speaker Hashemi Rafsanjani, who handled the secret talks with Washington over arms deals last year.
Sabra’s pro-Montazeri reporting, and subsequent criticism of the extremist pro-Iranian Hezbollah faction in Lebanon, angered the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. Hezbollah, or Party of God, is believed to be the umbrella group for kidnappers holding foreign hostages in Lebanon.