Iraqi traitors fly home to death

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Lt Gen Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid, Iraq's most important defector and son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, was murdered last night with two of his brothers a few days after he had returned from Jordan believing he would be safe because of an amnesty.

Iraqi television quoted a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior saying: "A number of young people from the al-Majid family have killed Hussein Kamel Hassan and his two brothers Saddam and Hakim in an armed confrontation which took place in the house in which Hussein Kamel resided after his return from Jordan."

Lt Gen Hussein, one of the Iraqi leader's most trusted lieutenants, fled from Iraq last August because he feared Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, known for his extreme violence, would try to kill him. After six months in exile in Amman he returned, along with his brother Saddam, to Baghdad three days ago apparently believing assurances that his father-in-law would not punish him.

Signs that his survival was in doubt came earlier yesterday when it was officially announced in Iraq that Raghad, the daughter of the Iraqi leader, and her sister, Rana, had divorced their husbands. The official announcement said the two women were "refusing to stay married to men who betrayed the homeland, the trust and the lofty values of their noble families and kinsfolk".

It was not clear from the announcement last night which of the kinsfolk were responsible for the murders, which have turned what should have been a propaganda boost for the regime into a political disaster. Uday himself may have had a role, given that his television station broke the news both of the divorces and the murders. It would also be in keeping with his reputation for violence.

Lt Gen Hussein Kamel was both a cousin and son-in-law of the Iraqi leader, who promoted him rapidly during the Iran-Iraq war, to the anger of the professional officer corps. He was credited with expanding the elite Republican Guards and was put in charge of weapons production and procurement.

Deadly divorce, page 13