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Jordan Grants Sanctuary to Two of Hussein's Daughters

U.S. officials see the pair's flight as another sign that the former Iraqi leader's days are numbered.

August 01, 2003|From Associated Press

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan's King Abdullah II granted sanctuary on humanitarian grounds Thursday to two of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's daughters and their nine children.

Raghad and Rana Hussein -- who had reportedly been living in humble circumstances in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, since their father's ouster -- arrived in the capital, Amman, on Thursday, Information Minister Nabil Sharif said.

Some U.S. military officers in Iraq said the daughters' flight to Jordan was another sign that intensified sweeps are squeezing the former Iraqi leader and other members of the defeated regime.

Hussein's sons Uday and Qusai were killed in a July 22 firefight with U.S. troops.

"It's good news. Even if it's estranged or extended family, it shows they're on the move," said Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who commands soldiers patrolling Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

It was not clear whether the Americans had sought the daughters for questioning about their father.

The daughters had lived private lives and, unlike their brothers, were not believed to be wanted for crimes linked to their father's brutal regime.

Instead, the women were seen by some as victims of their father, who ordered their husbands killed in 1996.

Sharif said Hussein's daughters were allowed to come to the kingdom because they had "run out of all options."

The daughters had been estranged from their father for a time but were believed to have reconciled with him.

A brother of their late husbands, Jamal Kamel, said the women "don't know anything about where their father could be. They're not interested in politics."

He said the women were in one of Jordan's palaces under the king's protection, but he refused to elaborate.

The whereabouts of Hussein's first wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah, and their fifth child and youngest daughter, Hala, are unknown.

Hala Hussein's husband, Gen. Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan Tikriti, was No. 10 on the list of 55 most-wanted former officials of the regime.

He surrendered to U.S. forces on May 17, the U.S. Central Command said.

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