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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

How Saddam's daughter finances terrorism

In today's New York Sun, Eli Lake has insight on how Saddam Hussein's daughter Raghdad finances terrorism and whether she is likely to be turned over to the Iraqi government:
Saddam Hussein and his henchmen are believed to have looted billions of dollars from Iraq's banks as the regime collapsed. Much of that money, which has been tracked closely by the Treasury Department since the beginning of the war, has found its way into the Baathist side of the Sunni insurgency. One of the chief beneficiaries of the regime's lucre was Raghad Hussein, who helped fund a former Saddam deputy, Izzat Ibrahim al Duri, the ex-Baathist official who is the highest-ranking member of the regime that remains at-large. Mr. al-Duri is believed to be residing in Yemen.

Ms. Hussein's network also included some Sunni terrorists who nominally joined the government, such as a leader of the Sunni Tawafuq bloc that recently left the parliament, Khallaf al Ayan. The New York Sun reported earlier this year that the Interior Ministry has a sealed indictment of Mr. al-Ayan charging him with supporting, among other things, the April suicide bombing in the Iraqi parliament. Mr. al-Ayan has denied the accusations.

King Abdullah's government is "not dealing that situation now," a spokesman in Jordan, Nasser Judeh, said, the Associated Press reported yesterday. He went on to say: "We will deal with this issue when it happens, but it isn't on the agenda. It's only a warning from Interpol and not an arrest warrant," according to the wire service.

An American diplomat yesterday who requested anonymity said the Jordanians were open to handing Ms. Hussein over to the Iraqis. "They are negotiating the price right now," he said. "There will be certain guarantees about what will and will not come out in a Raghad trial." A State Department spokesman yesterday declined to comment on the information.

The fate of Ms. Hussein is likely to be kinder than that of her brothers, Uday and Qusay, who were killed in 2003 in the opening months of the war. Raghad has the distinction of being married to Iraq's most famous defector during the sanction years, Hussein Kamel. In 1995, he fled with Raghad to Amman and disclosed to the international press corps and U.N. weapons inspectors the extent to which Iraq was concealing the weapons programs he was supposed to relinquish under the terms of the 1991 cease fire that ended the first Gulf War.

In February 1996, Hussein Kamel was lured back to Baghdad after Iraqi intermediaries promised Saddam would not kill him. Soon, Mr. Kamel was forced to divorce Saddam's daughter and was then marked for death as a traitor. Mr. Kamel and his brother, Saddam Kamel, are said to have been killed during a firefight with Iraq's Republican Guard on February 23.

Despite the murder of her husband, Raghad Hussein remained loyal to her father. After American and Kurdish forces captured Saddam, she helped organize from Amman his legal defense and public relations for the trial. The Associated Press quoted her at a rally in February in Yemen commemorating the end of the 40-day period after Saddam's execution. At the rally, she said, "As long as the resistance and the mujahedeen are fulfilling their duties in Iraq, the Iraqi people, without any doubt, will achieve victory."

The extradition of Ms. Hussein is likely to be popular with Iraqi Shiites, many of whom suffered under the twin horrors of state repression and the brunt of economic sanctions throughout the 1990s. The Shiites, meanwhile, are engaged increasingly in a kind of fratricide. Yesterday, the Iraqi governor of the Qadisiya province, Muhammad Ali Al-Hassani, who had clashed with other anti-government Shiite militias, was killed when his car hit a roadside bomb.
Earlier today, I saw an item that claimed that Saddam's widow also lives in Jordan and is also wanted by the Iraqi government.


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