London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Raghad Saddam Hussein, the eldest daughter of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein fled to Jordan on two separate occasions in her life. Raghad Hussein first fled to Jordan in 1995 along with her husband Hussein Kamel al-Majid who defected from Iraq along with Rana Saddam Hussein and her husband Saddam Kamel al-Majid. Raghad Hussein fled to Jordan for a second time in 2003 following the US invasion of Iraq and the collapse of her father’s regime. Raghad Hussein fled in fear of punishment; in 1995 she fled in order to save her husband’s life from her brother Uday, while in 2003 she fled in fear of the Iraqi people taking revenge against her father by attacking her. Raghad Hussein fled to Amman, where she was placed under the protection of the Jordanian monarch. In 1995, Jordanian King Hussein treated Raghad and Rana Hussein as his own two daughters, and they lived with the Jordanian royals in the royal palace. Whilst in 2003, King Abdullah placed Raghad Hussein under his protection as his guest.
Raghad Hussein today lives the high life, she bought a luxury villa in the upscale Abdoun neighborhood in western Amman, and she employs a staff of servants, cooks, and security guards. This affluent existence is not being paid for by the Jordanian State – as some have speculated – but rather by the huge amount of money that Raghad Hussein initially fled Baghdad with in 1995 and this is estimated to be in the region of 1 billion dollars, in addition to large quantities of minted gold coins and precious gems. Uday Hussein had previously called on Jordan to return these funds to Iraq after Raghad Hussein had returned to Iraq, and her husband Hussein Kamel al-Majid had been killed, but Jordan refused. Jordan informed Iraq that the funds in question belonged to a deceased individual, and that it was up to his heirs to claim them. Raghad Hussein did not claim this money, and instead considered this something akin to a “nest egg” which is indeed what this served as during her second defection from Iraq, and these funds have aided her in her second defection from Iraq to live the luxurious lifestyle that she has become accustomed to.
It seems that the defection of Saddam Hussein’s eldest daughter, following the deaths of her two brothers Uday and Qusay Hussein, and her nephew Mustafa, at the hands of US troops near the city of Mosul, is too much for some parties in the outgoing Iraqi government to take, and Baghdad has called on Amman to hand over Raghad Hussein to stand trial in Iraq. However since Saddam Hussein’s eldest daughter sought sanctuary from the Jordanian King, and he accepted her in his country as his guest, Arab and Islamic traditions do not allow him to hand her over to Baghdad.
Raghad Hussein has returned to the spotlight once more, and the website of the Central Media office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan reported news that “The International Police Organization (INTERPOL) issued an arrest warrant against the wanted Raghad Saddam, the daughter of the former Dictator for her involvement in terror.” While Interpol’s website revealed that this warrant was requested by Baghdad, and that the category of crimes Raghad Hussein is being accused of are “crimes against life and health” and “inciting terrorism.”
An official source in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior refused to confirm or deny the veracity of this information, informing Asharq Al-Awsat yesterday via telephone from Baghdad that “the explosions that rocked Baghdad today have not allowed us to check this news.”
Meanwhile Iraqi lawyer Badi Aref Ezzet, former lawyer of Saddam Hussein, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “from a legal standpoint, Jordan cannot hand over Mrs. Raghad to the Iraqi authorities unless there is corroborating evidence of her involvement in cases of terrorism, according to a judicial decision issued by the Court of Cassation in Iraq.” He also said that “this is a political legal issue and it cannot solely be dealt with through Interpol, especially as Iraq is facing an abnormal situation.”
Ezzet, who currently resides in Amman, said that “the failures of some influential groups in the Iraqi government at the recent elections prompted them to spread such news or even to call for the arrest of the daughter of the former Iraqi President.” He noted that “the Iraqi government has worked to root out [some] Iraqi politicians and it has questioned the results of the elections, and today it is talking about arresting Raghad Saddam Hussein.”
Jordanian Interior Ministry spokesman Karim Naber told Asharq Al-Awsat “I have no knowledge about any Interpol request to arrest Raghad Hussein” adding “I think the credibility of this news is in question, I am [currently] on Easter holiday, and it is up to you to confirm this from the police.”
In response to a question about what will happen if Jordan receives an international arrest warrant for Raghad Hussein, the Jordanian Interior Ministry told Asharq Al-Awsat “I cannot comment on hypothetical situations before they happen.”
For his part, Major Mohammed Khatib, spokesman for the Jordanian Public Security department, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we have not received any such arrest warrant” adding that “arrest warrants usually go through the government, who turn them over to the police.”
The first public sighting of Raghad Hussein after she fled Iraq in 2003, took place on the same day as her father’s execution, where she appeared at a pro-Saddam rally in mourning dress. She thanked participants, and her father’s legal team for the efforts, before telling the audience “God bless you, and thank you for this celebration for the martyr Saddam Hussein.”