Second wife may have led US forces to the former dictator's hiding spot

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As US forces claimed they were led to Saddam Hussein's hiding place by someone "close to him" members of his real family wept at news of his capture.

A flurry of unconfirmed reports said Saddam's second wife had provided US forces with information about his whereabouts. In Tikrit, Maj-Gen Raymond Odierno said that over the past 10 days soldiers from 4th Infantry Division had questioned up to 10 members of families "close to Saddam". He said: "Finally we got the ultimate information from one of these individuals."

The Sunday Times yesterday reported that Saddam's second wife, who has changed her name and started a "new life", claimed the former Iraqi leader telephoned her at least once a week or wrote to her.

According to the parents of their schoolmates, Saddam's grandchildren cried at their private school in Jordan. One parent said: "When news of Saddam's capture became known, school officials gathered the children in the principal's office at both schools and informed them of what had happened and the children broke down in tears. The children were shielded from the rest of their schoolmates until their drivers came and took them home to be with their mothers."

Earlier this year Saddam's daughters, Raghad and Rana, and their nine children, were granted refuge in Jordan, where they live in a former palace of King Abdullah II's late father, King Hussein, on a hill east of the capital, Amman.

A correspondent with the Dubai-based Arab satellite television channel Al-Arabiya said he had spoken with Raghad by telephone. "She was crying and kept on repeating 'I wished I had never lived to this day'," said the correspondent.

On 8 August 1995 the two women and their husbands, General Hussein Kamel Hassan and his brother Colonel Saddam Kamel, along with 30 members of the al-Majid family, defected to Jordan. Two days later, from the safety of his refuge across the border, Hussein Kamel called for the Iraqi people to rise up. The Kamel brothers were killed in February 1996 on orders from Saddam, who had lured them back home with a promise of an amnesty. Saddam's sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed in a firefight with US forces in July.