|Hunt for Saddam's $57bn|
|THE hunt for Saddam's missing billions was stepped up yesterday amid speculation he amassed a $57 billion fortune during his 30-year reign. Much is said to be invested through dummy corporations in Switzerland, Japan and Germany and some is hidden as cash and diamonds in numbered bank accounts in Europe and the Middle East. But Iraqi and US investigators, led by the FBI, US Treasury agents and State Department accountants, have been unable to identify the fake companies or the numbered accounts.|
After a brief period of co-operation when he was first captured, the dictator refused to help further. In a report submitted to the CIA in 2005, former UN arms inspector Charles Duelfer estimated that Saddam had amassed more than $15 billion "through illicit means" between 1990, when UN sanctions were imposed, and 2003.
But Iyad Allawi, who was interim prime minister of Iraq in the aftermath of the allied invasion, said the figure was far higher. He said information suggested Saddam had salted away an astonishing $57 billion through a network of bank accounts around the world.
$5.5 billion came from an illegal oil-for-trade deal he signed with Syria between 2000 and 2003.
Investigators also want to interview two of Saddam's three daughters, Raghad, 39, and Rana, 37, who both live in Jordan. Raghad, known as "Little Saddam" because she shares her father's temper, has been accused by the new Iraqi Government of using some of the cash to help finance the terrorist insurgency.
Investigators also want to interview at least two of Saddam's three wives. One is Samira Shahbandar, who was rumoured to be his favourite wife. The other is Nidal al-Hamdani, the general manager of the Solar Energy Research Centre in the Council of Scientific Research, whose husband was also persuaded that divorce was better than death.
|Jordan Grants Husseinâs Daughters Refuge|
|Two of Saddam Husseinâs daughters and their nine children received sanctuary Thursday in Jordan on humanitarian grounds, granted by King Abdullah II. Raghad Saddam Hussein and Rana Saddam Hussein who had reportedly been living in humble circumstances in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, since their fatherâs ouster arrived in the capital Amman Thursday, Information Minister Nabil al-Sharif told The Associated Press. He refused to say if they traveled through a third country. |
I donât think itâs proper to use the words "humble" and "Hussein" in the same paragraph.
U.S. officials say they are closing in on Saddam, but it was not clear if his daughtersâ departure from Iraq indicated the hunt for their father was nearing an end. Word of the arrival in Jordan of two of Saddamâs five children came after his elder sons, Odai and Qusai, were killed in a July 22 firefight with U.S. troops. Some U.S. military officers in Iraq said the daughtersâ flight to Jordan was another sign that intensified sweeps are squeezing Saddam and other members of the defeated regime. ``Itâs good news. Even if itâs estranged or extended family, it shows theyâre on the move,ââ said Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who commands soldiers patrolling Saddamâs hometown of Tikrit.
Then again given the consideration given to women in that part of the world, it may be that theyâre just moving the herd into the barn for the night.
It was not clear whether the Americans had sought the daughters for questioning about their father. The two daughters had lived private lives and unlike their brothers were not believed to be wanted for crimes linked to their fatherâs brutal regime. Instead, the women were seen by some as victims of Saddam, who ordered their husbands killed in 1996. Al-Sharif said Saddamâs daughters were allowed to come to the kingdom because they had ``run out of all options.ââ The daughters had been estranged from their father for a time but were believed to have reconciled with Saddam in recent years. A brother of their late husbands, Jamal Kamel, told The Associated Press that the women ``donât know anything about where their father could be. Theyâre not interested in politics.ââ He said the women were in one of Jordanâs palaces under the kingâs protection but refused to elaborate.
Wonder if they have the room down the hall from daddy.
The whereabouts of Saddamâs wife Sajida Khairallah Telfah and his fifth and youngest child, daughter Hala, are unknown. Hala Saddam Husseinâs husband, Gen. Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan al-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. Saddam had a very public affair with Samira Shahbandar, daughter of a prominent Iraqi family, who has been described as his second wife. The two are rumored to have had a son. Last month, a cousin of Saddam, Izzi-Din Mohammed Hassan al-Majid, had said he would try to help Raghad and Rana apply for asylum in Britain, where he lives. That prompted a statement from Prime Minister Tony Blair that Britain would not consider asylum applications from members of Saddamâs family who may have committed human rights abuses.
"He was a very good father for a blood-sucking sadist! Oh, did I say that?"