Baghdad, June 8: The eldest daughter of Saddam Hussein has broken her silence to tell The Daily Telegraph that she and her sister have no plans to seek asylum in Britain, as it would not be “appropriate”.
Raghad Saddam Hussein, who remains in hiding in Iraq with her sister, Rana, said they might, however, move to Britain if they were granted visas.
Last week their cousin, Izzi-Din Hassan al-Majid, who lives in exile in Leeds, told a newspaper that the sisters wanted to apply for asylum in Britain.
Making her first comments to the western media, Raghad explained that their plans had been misunderstood.
“We do not want to apply for asylum as that would not be appropriate for us,” she said. “But we would like to visit Britain and possibly live there if we were granted visas,” Raghad added.
Raghad and Rana had been estranged from their father since their husbands were murdered on Saddam’s orders in 1996, after they returned from temporary exile in Jordan. But they fear that they could be targeted in reprisal attacks after the overthrow of Saddam’s regime.
Too terrified to reveal her location, Raghad spoke to the The Daily Telegraph through a family intermediary, who arranged for written questions to be delivered to her. He said that it would be “awkward” for Saddam’s daughters to submit themselves to the asylum process because of their previous stature in Iraq.
“They are anxious about their future and worry what will happen in the coming days and weeks,” he said. Asked about their lives now that the regime has fallen, Raghad, 35, replied simply: “We are both well and in good health and so are our children, thanks be to God.” She revealed that she and Rana, 33, were living together with their nine children but they were not with their mother, Sajida.
The two women are not implicated in the worst excesses of the regime, even though their husbands were among Saddam’s closest associates. Raghad’s husband, Hussein Kamel Hassan, was a Saddam loyalist who played a prominent role in quashing the Shia rebellion after the 1991 Gulf war. Rana was married to Kamel’s brother Saddam.
The brothers fled to Jordan with their wives following a bitter rivalry with Saddam’s son, Uday. Kamel supplied western intelligence services and the UN with important information on Iraq’s secret weapons programmes. After six months in exile, the brothers were tempted back to Baghdad with offers of clemency. Days later, they were killed in a shoot-out with security forces led by Uday. “After their husbands were killed, they lived on the margins,” explained the relative. “They were completely loyal to their husbands. They wore the black of mourning for seven years.”