King fears Saddam killed grandchildren

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Diplomatic Editor

King Hussein of Jordan said yesterday that several children in the families of the two Iraqi defectors who were killed last Friday may have been murdered. If confirmed this would suggest that President Hussein has ordered the murder of his own grandchildren.

The King said in London last night that if he had had any notion of what awaited the defectors "I would have tried to dissuade them from leaving."

Speaking to a Royal Institute of International Affairs, he said the late Lt. General Hussein Kamel and his brother Saddam Kamel had been "honoured guests" until they returned to Baghdad. "When he came out I personally was exposed to the stark reality of Iraq as never before," King Hussein said in a sombre voice.

"He received assurances that he could go back. He put together his family. The horror of it all is that he, his brother, his father who had remained in Iraq, and others have been murdered. Worse still, reports, not yet verified, are that many of the children have been murdered as well," the King said.

Hussein Kamel and President Saddam's daughter, Raghad, had four children while Saddam Kamel and Rana had three. President Saddam's motive for having the children murdered could be to ensure that offspring of his treacherous sons-in-law did not become contenders to succeed him, or even as a punishment to his daughters, if he did not believe their stories that they were duped into fleeing Iraq with their husbands.

King Hussein said nobody had the right to interfere in the internal affairs of other states. "But when conditions reach the level they have reached in Iraq ... it becomes our duty, all of us, to do what we can... for the Iraqi people."

King Hussein said he had no personal or dynastic ambitions regarding Iraq. But he warned of danger to Iraq's territorial integrity and stability posed by other powerful neighbouring countries.

Fatal return, page 8