Skip to comments.Saddam's Nephew Finds Sanctuary In Syria
Posted on 05/17/2003 5:28:46 PM PDT by blam
Saddam's nephew finds sanctuary in Syria
By Con Coughlin in Baghdad
A leading member of Saddam Hussein's family has been discovered living in Damascus under the protection of the Syrian government after fleeing Iraq last week, The Telegraph can reveal.
Fatiq al-Majid, one of Saddam's nephews, entered Syria last Monday after leaving Iraq at the al-Rabie'a checkpoint, which is under the control of American troops. Majid was given a Syrian visa and made his way to Damascus, where he is now living in exile.
Majid confirmed his presence in Damascus when contacted by telephone by The Telegraph last week. He refused to give his reasons for leaving Iraq or to reveal whether he knew the whereabouts of his uncle.
Until just a few weeks ago Majid, who is in his mid-thirties and is also the brother-in-law of Qusay Hussein, Saddam's younger son and former heir apparent, was a commanding officer in Saddam's Special Security Organisation at the Republican Palace in Baghdad.
Apart from being related to Saddam, Majid is also the nephew of Ali Hassan al-Majid, otherwise known as "Chemical Ali" because of his role in gassing the Kurds at Halabja in 1988.
The revelation that senior members of Saddam's regime such as Majid have fled into exile in Damascus is deeply embarrassing to the Syrian government of President Bashir al-Assad, which has consistently denied allegations made in Washington that Damascus is providing sanctuary to former Iraqi officials.
"Majid was undoubtedly an important member of Saddam's regime," said a leading member of the Iraqi interim administration. "As a well-connected member of Saddam's family he would have been given many responsibilities in addition to his duties in the security establishment."
The discovery of Majid's presence in Damascus will also embarrass the coalition administration in Baghdad, which recently claimed that it had secured Iraq's borders with Syria. Two days after Majid's arrival in Damascus US troops sealed the al-Rabie'a crossing and detained members of the Shama'a tribe, who are suspected of having smuggled Majid into Syria.
Apart from Majid, there have been reports that several senior members of Saddam's inner circle have made their way to Syria since the overthrow of the Ba'athist government last April, including Saddam's first wife Sajida, her three daughters and their children.
After Colin Powell, the US secretary of state, issued a thinly veiled warning to Damascus not to interfere in Iraqi affairs, the Syrian authorities were reported to have moved Sajida and her family back into Iraq under the protection of Jalal Talabani, the Kurdish leader. But according to a senior Iraqi representative of the interim administration who helped track down Majid, Syria is harbouring several leading members of Saddam's family, as well as senior Ba'athist officials.
Last week The Telegraph revealed that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, the king of clubs from America's pack of "most wanted" cards and a former vice-president of Iraq, was being sheltered at a military base in Damascus.
"Syria was a key ally of Saddam during the last years of his presidency: all the oil and arms passed through Syria," he said. "Syria was also very much against the war to remove Saddam, so it is makes sense that Saddam's family and supporters should take refuge in Damascus."
Don't know. Mid Thirties?