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Hussein's Daughters Tell of Kind Father

August 02, 2003|Edmund Sanders | Times Staff Writer

AMMAN, Jordan — A day after fleeing Iraq with their nine children, two of Saddam Hussein's daughters described their fugitive father as a tender, deeply feeling person whom they still love and hope to see again.

Raghad Saddam Hussein, 35, and her 33-year-old sister, Rana, blamed their father's aides for the collapse of his government.

"He was betrayed by the closest and most trusted," Raghad said during an interview Friday night on Al Arabiya, an Arabic-language news channel. "They betrayed not just Saddam, but Iraq. History will condemn them."

The daughters, who arrived in Amman, the Jordanian capital, on Thursday night, said they last saw their father five days before the war broke out March 20. That emotional family gathering ended with the dictator giving candy to his grandchildren, they said.

"We would go to our father for many issues or problems," Rana said during a separate interview on CNN. "He told us to tell him what's going on. Usually the daughter should be closer to her mother, but we [would] go to him. He was our friend."

The women said they have no plans to return to Iraq and hope to settle in neighboring Jordan.

"In Iraq, I cannot live anymore," Raghad said. "It's no longer my place."

The daughters have received permission to stay in Jordan from King Abdullah II. The women also sought refuge in the kingdom in 1995 with their husbands, who subsequently denounced Saddam Hussein's government.

A year later, the families were lured back to Iraq with promises of forgiveness, but upon their return the husbands were killed.

Speaking softly in English or through interpreters, the daughters declined to answer questions about their husbands, saying it was still too painful to talk about.

They also rebuffed questions about their brothers Uday and Qusai, who were killed last week by U.S. troops in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Raghad said she would be willing to speak to U.S. officials about her father but insisted she would have little to offer.

"I expect nobody is in touch with him and nobody knows where he is," Raghad told CNN. "Nobody tells me that. But I knew him very well. He's not going to tell anybody where he is now, even my mother or any other person and the family."

Asked if she had a message for her father, Raghad said: "I love you and I miss you -- as a father. No more than that."

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