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SADDAM'S SONS-IN-LAW SLAIN BY CLAN MEMBERS IN GUNBATTLE.

Byline: Associated Press

Two defector sons-in-law of President Saddam Hussein were killed by clan members who stormed their residence Friday - three days after their return from exile and a day after their wives divorced them - according to the Iraqi News Agency.

The two, Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid and his brother Saddam Kamel al-Majid, had vowed to topple the Iraqi leader during their six-month stay in Jordan.

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

But their welcome was short-lived.

Their wives divorced them 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.

Clan members - 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 also were killed in the clash. Two other clan members were killed and an unspecified number were injured, according to the news agency.

"Competent authorities are now investigating the incident," the agency added, 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.

When the al-Majids defected to Jordan in August they were the highest-ranking members of the inner circle to depart. It was a major embarrassment to Saddam at a time when the country's 20 million people were suffering from the hardships of United Nations sanctions imposed after Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Hussein Kamel al-Majid had been in charge of Iraq's secret weapons program; his brother was deputy head of the Iraqi leader's palace guard.

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

Earlier Friday, the Iraqi News Agency announced that his daughters had divorced the al-Majids, who were described as "failed traitors."

"They are refusing to stay married to men who betrayed the homeland, the trust and the lofty values of their noble families and kinsfolk," the agency said of Raghad and Rana, who were married to Hussein and Saddam Kamel al-Majid respectively.

The women made no public statement during their time in Jordan.

However, there were unconfirmed reports that they had been duped by their husbands into thinking they were going on holiday when they left Iraq by road to Jordan in August.

King Hussein of Jordan, who initially threw his weight behind the defectors, later kept them at arm's length.

Before they returned to Iraq, the defectors said that "reforms" by Saddam's government had encouraged them to go home.

In addition, sources in contact with the defectors said their wives had become homesick and wanted to go back.

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Photo Hussein Kamel al-Majid Ex-chief of weapons program
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 24, 1996
Words:532
Previous Article:MURDERER OF 3 NEXT IN LINE TO FACE INJECTION.
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