Saddam's daughter facing terrorism charges

BAGHDAD — Less than a year after her father was sent to the gallows, Saddam Hussein's daughter is facing charges that also could lead to her execution.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said Friday that Raghad Hussein, 38, has been charged with financing the insurgents who have bedeviled this country since shortly after her father's regime was toppled in 2003.

Hussein is believed to be living in Amman, Jordan, as a guest of King Abdullah II.

The spokesman, Abdul Kereem Khalaf, said the Iraqi Judicial Authority issued an arrest warrant for Hussein a year ago, but that it was only being made public now after Interpol, the international police agency, issued a worldwide notice that Iraq was seeking her.

"We have a whole file of evidence against her," Khalaf said. "It is with the court. If you have the right connections you can see it. But basically she is accused of mass killings of Iraqis by funding terrorist groups."

Khalaf wouldn't specify which terrorist groups Hussein is accused of funding. He also wouldn't say what charges other than financing terrorism she faces.

Hussein, like her father, is a Sunni Muslim. Both Sunni and Shiite groups have been battling each other and coalition forces for control of Iraq since late 2003.

If found guilty, Khalaf said, Hussein would be punished with either life in prison or death. In Iraq, defendants given the death penalty are executed by hanging.

In February, Hussein made a rare public appearance when she led a ceremony in Yemen shortly after her father's Dec. 30 execution. She praised the deposed dictator and called him a hero and the true leader of the Arabs.

Saddam was tried by the Iraqi High Tribunal, a special court established to bring justice to those who committed crimes during the former regime. If arrested, Hussein likely would be tried by the Central Criminal Court, where politically sensitive cases and charges against suspected insurgents are handled.

Interpol's "red notice" for Hussein's arrest doesn't amount to an international warrant, but is intended to alert its member countries of a person's fugitive status and adds credibility to the charges brought by the Iraqi government. Jordan is a member of Interpol. Efforts to reach Jordan authorities were unsuccessful.

Khalaf said the Iraqi government's national security adviser has been in Jordan for the last week trying to arrange Hussein's arrest. He brushed aside questions about whether the Jordanian government will cooperate.

"It doesn't matter at this stage," Khalaf said. "As long as Interpol has issued an arrest warrant, the opportunity will come and she will be handed over to the Iraqi government."

Mohammed Hamoudi, a Shiite and an electrician, said he would welcome a trial for Hussein.

"I hope that they capture her as soon as possible — not only her, but everyone like her that are proven guilty of such actions," he said.

Others doubted that Iraqi judges would be able to weigh evidence against her objectively.

"I don't believe she will have a fair trial here," said Jassim Ali, an accountant who is Sunni.

(Collins reports for the Fresno Bee. McClatchy special correspondents Sahar Issa and Jenan Hussein contributed to this report.)