The Lebanese military tribunal was hearing the cases of five Lebanese nationals accused of collaborating with the Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency. It was reported in the Lebanese news service, The Daily Star, that one of the defendants, Maufid Kuntar, testified that Arad was captured by his organization, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. He was informed of the capture and in 1988 went to interrogate the prisoner. They took Arad to the town of Dhour Choueir, near Beirut.
“One day I got a telephone call and they told me that a group of guys were holding someone,” Kuntar told the court. He testified that the group had attempted to interrogate the man to ascertain his identity but were unsuccessful.
“He knew many languages,” Kunter said. “When they spoke to him in Hebrew he answered in French, when they questioned him in French he answered in Spanish, when they talked to him in English he answered in French.”
“I didn’t see him right away, but on the second day,” Kuntar said. “He wore regular clothes, but his condition was pitiful after all the beatings he had endured during the interrogation. He could not stand up. I asked the youths to supply him with food and to allow him to shower so it would be possible to complete the interrogation.”
Two days later, he received a phone call informing him that the prisoner was dead.
“They told me that he had entered the bathroom and stayed there for a long time,” Kuntar said “When they went to check on him they found him dead.”
He added, “Of course he passed away due to exhaustion and of course he was subject to beatings and torture as that is how interrogations happen.”
Kuntar was not aware of Arad’s identity at the time and could not remember if he was wearing an IAF aviator’s uniform. In 1998, Arad’s name came up in the media with photographs. Kuntar recognized his former prisoner and returned to the base. He had those who buried Arad take him to the burial site near Mount Lebanon, in order to verify the identity of the body.
Kuntar testified that he requested a meeting with Emile Lahoud, then-president of Lebanon. The judge closed the court proceedings to the public due to the inclusion of the former president in the issue, and adjourned until April 20.
Arad was an aviator on an F-4 Phantom II. On a mission to attack PLO targets near Sidon, Lebanon, a bomb released by his airplane prematurely exploded, damaging the plane. Both crewmen ejected and the pilot, Yishai Aviram, was rescued by an IAF helicopter. The helicopter came under heavy enemy gunfire and barely escaped, with Aviram hanging onto one of the helicopter’s skids. Arad was captured by the Lebanese Amal. Israel believes that he was eventually handed over to Iran. Israeli officials officially declared Arad’s death in 2008.