“IT WAS a big shock,” the woman, Raghad Saddam Hussein, 36, said in an
interview with Al Arabiya television in Jordan, which has granted her and her sister Rana, 34, and their nine children asylum.
“It was clear, unfortunately, the people who he had absolutely trusted ... as I
understood, the main betrayal was by them,” said Raghad, who described her father’s ouster as “an act of treason.”
“If somebody doesn’t like you, they should not betray you,” she said. “Betrayal is not a trait of Arabs.”
She did not specify by name who she believed had betrayed Saddam in the part of the
interview that was broadcast. Both sisters described their father as a good and kind man in a separate interview with CNN.
“He was a very good father, loving, has a big heart,” Raghad Hussein said. Asked if she wanted to give a message to her father, she said: “I love you, and I miss you.”
In the same interview, Rana Hussein said she last saw her father a week before the
war started. “He had so many feelings, and he was very tender with all of us,” she
said. “Usually, the daughter is close to her mother, but we would usually go to him. He was our friend.”
The two 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 Saddam, who had their husbands, brothers Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel and Saddam Kamel, killed in 1996 after they defected to Jordan in 1995 and announced plans to work to overthrow Saddam.
The two sisters arrived Thursday in Jordan from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, Jordanian Information Minister Nabil al-Sharif said Thursday.
Saad Silawi, one of two Al-Arabiya interviewers, said Raghad, who cried at the end of the segment, told him that she did not want to answer questions about her father and brothers and that criticism of Saddam would make her acquaintances lose respect for her.
She said during the interview that she saw her father five days before the war at a family gathering at her mother’s residence in Baghdad’s al-Jadirya district.
She said Saddam did not expect Baghdad to surrender. “Never, never, he never
expected anything,” she said. “On the contrary, I was depressed, but when we met, I felt I retained strength from him and that my fears were much more than the reality [deserved].”
At noon the day Baghdad fell, she said, her father sent a car from the special security forces, “who told us to leave.” She said her brother Qusai’s wife and her children were with them.
“The farewell moments were terrible,” she said. “The boys were hugging each other and crying. We left Baghdad. Then I met my mother after a few hours and Hala,” a younger sister.
She said they were put in a house on Baghdad’s outskirts. “There was almost no link with [my] father and brothers, because everything was over,” she said.
“The shelling was shaking the house we were in,” she said. “We got into small cars, and I had my gun with me. I kept it under my feet. I am not a professional, but I know how to use weapons to a certain extent. We were going into an unknown fate.”
NO DISCUSSION OF SLAIN BROTHERS
The sisters refused in both interviews to discuss their brothers Odai and Qusai, who were killed in a shootout with U.S. forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on July 22.
The whereabouts of Saddam’s wife Sajida Khairallah Telfah and his fifth and youngest child, daughter Hala, are unknown.
Hala’s husband, Gen. Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al-Tikriti, who was No. 10 on the list of 55 most-wanted former officials of the regime, surrendered to U.S. forces May 17, U.S. Central Command has said.
Saddam had a very public affair with Samira Shahbandar, the daughter of a prominent Iraqi family. Raghad Hussein confirmed Friday that they had been married, but she denied that they had a son, saying that rumor was mixed up with her own son, Ali.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Photo A: Saddam Hussein is embraced by his daughter Raghd in an undated photo from the private archive of an official photographer for the regime.
Photo B: Saddam Hussein's family (left to right): daughter Hala, first wife Sajda Kher Ala, daughters Rana and Raghd, and several grandchildren pose in an undated photo from the private archive of an official photographer for the regime. Jordan's King Abdullah II has offered asylum to Rana and Raghd on humanitarian grounds, a palace official said