Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Relatives Kill 2 Iraqi Defectors Sons-in-Law of Saddam Had Returned Home This Week from Jordan

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Relatives Kill 2 Iraqi Defectors Sons-in-Law of Saddam Had Returned Home This Week from Jordan

Article excerpt

Two senior Iraqi defectors who returned home this week after six months in exile were killed Friday when clan members stormed their residence, the Iraqi News Agency said.

The two defectors - Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid and his brother Saddam Kamel al-Majid - were both sons-in-law of President Saddam Hussein. While in exile in Jordan, both had vowed to topple the Iraqi leader.

When they returned home Tuesday with their wives, both daughters of Saddam, the Iraqi government said they were welcome back as "ordinary" citizens.

Their wives divorced them on Thursday, the news agency said. On Friday, relatives of the two men declared that their "blood should be shed due to their treason to the homeland," the news agency reported.

Members of their extended families then stormed the al-Majid residence in Baghdad and killed the brothers in a gunbattle, the agency said, citing sources in the Interior Ministry.

The father of the al-Majids and a third brother were also killed in the clash. Two clan members were killed and an unspecified number were injured, the news agency said.

Two people in the area and a child were also killed in crossfire, the news agency said.

"Competent authorities are now investigating the incident," the news agency said, citing the Interior Ministry.

Iraqi society has a long history of violence, and disputes are sometimes settled by the gun. The country also has a tradition of "honor killings" carried out within the family when one or more members are perceived to have stained the family's honor. This informal system of punishment is centuries old in Iraq, and generally tolerated by authorities.

Iraq television read a telegram to Saddam from the al-Majid family, asking him for clemency. It said they had to kill the defectors to cleanse their honor, tarnished by treason.

The al-Majids defected to Jordan in August and vowed to overthrow Saddam. Hussein Kamel al-Majid was in charge of Iraq's secret weapons program, and his brother was deputy head of the Iraqi leader's palace guard.

But the defection never threatened Saddam's rule, and the al-Majids were shunned by Iraqi opposition groups because of their close links to the Iraqi leader. …

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