Image: Raghad Hussein
Mohammad Abu Ghosh  /  AP file
Raghad Hussein was granted refuge in Jordan after her father’s regime collapsed in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
updated 8/20/2007 3:42:26 PM ET 2007-08-20T19:42:26

Jordan indicated Monday it is not ready to surrender Saddam Hussein’s eldest daughter to Iraq, despite a new push from authorities in Baghdad for her to face charges of funneling money to Sunni insurgents.

A visiting Iraqi delegation last week handed Jordanian authorities a list of wanted fugitives, including Raghad Hussein, the independent newspaper Al Arab Al Yawm reported Monday. Interpol has posted a “red notice” on its Web site, advising that Saddam’s daughter is wanted by the Iraqi government for “crimes against life and health” and for inciting terrorism.

Jordanian government spokesman Nasser Judeh said Monday that Jordan was “not dealing with that situation right now.”

“We will deal with this issue when it happens, but it isn’t on the agenda,” he said. “It’s only a warning from Interpol and not an arrest warrant.”

Red notices from Interpol are not international arrest warrants, but are intended to advise police forces that an individual is sought by a member government, according to Interpol’s Web site.

Sectarian complications
The issue of what to do with Saddam’s daughters is complicated by Sunni Arab hostility, including in Jordan, toward the Shiite-dominated government of Iraq. An estimated 750,000 Iraqis, many of them Sunnis, have fled to Jordan to escape the chaos back home.

Raghad, 38, and her sister, Rana, were granted refuge in Jordan by King Abdullah II after their father’s regime collapsed in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Since then, the Jordanian government has turned down repeated requests by Iraq to hand over Raghad, insisting that to do so would violate Arab traditions of hospitality.

“We have always said that she is here on purely humanitarian grounds,” Judeh told reporters. “It was agreed with her that she would never practice any political or media activities.”

Last year, Iraqi authorities included Raghad on a list of most wanted fugitives accused of supporting Sunni insurgents. Many of those on the list are believed to be in Jordan.

According to Al Arab Al Yawm, the Iraqis also asked for other Iraqi Sunnis, including Raghad’s cousins, Ahmed Watban and Mohammed Sabawi; Harith al-Dhari, a hard-line cleric believed linked to Sunni insurgents; and Ziad Aziz, son of Saddam’s deputy, Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, who is now in U.S. custody.

No public evidence
Iraqi authorities have not released detailed information to support the allegations against Raghad or the others.

In the absence of such public evidence, Jordan is unlikely to risk a Sunni backlash by handing over Sunnis to Iraq.

“If Raghad Saddam Hussein was responsible for all that is happening in Iraq with the chaos, massacres, car bombs, al-Qaida, the Mahdi Army ... then the Americans shouldn’t be in dialogue with the Iranians, but with her,” a former information minister, Saleh Qallab, wrote Monday in the pro-government daily Al Rai.

“It’s about time that Iraq, instead of creating the ‘Interpol hurricane,’ proves its courage and says loudly and clearly that the one responsible for all that is happening in Iraq is Iran,” he said.

Raghad has been known to speak publicly in support of the anti-American insurgency in Iraq — most recently in Yemen in February, when she joined hundreds of Baath party supporters commemorating the 40-day period since Saddam’s death.

At the gathering, Raghad — who supervised Saddam’s defense before his conviction and subsequent hanging — said that “as long as the resistance and the mujahedeen are fulfilling their duties in Iraq, the Iraqi people, without any doubt, will achieve victory.”

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