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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Daughters of Saddam Living In Jordan

Aired July 31, 2003 - 19:34   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The two hussein daughters who surfaced today may have had more reason than the U.S. to dislike Hussein, if that's possible. After they defected in the mid-90's, they were lured back to Iraq and then their husbands were promply killed. Now they and their 9 children have been given sanctuary in Jordan. The question is, can they or will they help find Hussein.
We've got "TIME" magazine senior editor Lisa Beyer to help us come up with some answer. Lisa, thanks for being with us.

LISA BEYER, "TIME" MAGAZINE SENIOR EDITOR: Sure thing.

COOPER: First, let's talk about these two daughters. I mean, their husbands were killed. Do they have information they might be able it give up?

BEYER: I doubt it very much.

COOPER: They were treated pretty badly.

BEYER: They were really more victims of Saddam's regime than participants in his regime. In the mid '90s, as you pointed out, their husbanded decided to defect to Jordan. Their husband's being brothers --cousins of Saddam and important members of his regime. And when they were persuaded to go back, the husbands were immediately given divorces from their -- from the two sisters and then immediately murdered.

Ever since then, basically, the daughters haven't spoken to their father. They saw him very irregularly. They were basically kept in house arrest along with their mother who also fell out with Saddam.

COOPER: Do we know where they were before arriving in Jordan?

BEYER: Well, the reports that I saw today say that they came from the United Arab Emerites. There have been a number of reports that they were in different places. We had sources who put them in Mosul at one point. We had other sources who said that in the early part of the war they went to Syria and were kicked out by the Syrians.

At one point one of the sisters, the older sister, talked to a British newspaper and said they were living in a humble house somewhere north of Baghdad.

COOPER: Now, the picture we're looking at right here, that woman there, that, is that the wife -- is that the mother of these two?

BEYER: That is the mother of these two, Saddam's first wife.

COOPER: The first wife, who he didn't like all that much apparently?

BEYER: Well, he liked his second wife better, let's put it that way.

COOPER: OK, let's put that's way.

BEYER: At one point, I think he liked his wife just fine. They were cousins, married as youngsters, grew up together.

COOPER: But the second wife really had his ear, his trust?

BEYER: That's right. She was -- didn't have the same status as the first wife and we understand from one of Saddam's secretaries that there was even a contractual agreement between Saddam and his second wife that enshrined the first wife as the real wife.

COOPER: Uday and Qusay, are they from the first wife or the second wife? .

BEYER: They're from the first wife. The second wife, as far as we know, didn't produce any children. You will often hear about a son called Ali who was said to be by some, the half brother of Uday and Qusay, the son of the second wife, but our understanding is that actually no such person ever existed, that there was a young man who was actually the grandson of the second wife.

COOPER: I guess the bottom line is do we know where the second wife is and would she have any information she might be willing to give up?

BEYER: It's really hard to say for sure because there have been many reports and it's hard pin these things down. But last -- or this week we published a story where we spoke to one of Saddam's former secretaries who says that the second wife is in Beirut and, in fact, is in regular contact with her lawyer who manages her affairs. She owns quite a bit of property in Baghdad. And this is the wife that would be interesting to talk to.

COOPER: But authorities don't seem all that interested to talk to her.

BEYER: The U.S. official that we spoke to last week for the story said, you know, in Iraq, women don't have much to do with men's affairs and so if she walked in today I would give her tea. I think that that might be buying into a stereotype and in this particular case anyway, that this woman, her name is Samira, might have something interesting to tell the authorities.

COOPER: Especially if she had his ear.

All right, Lisa Beyer thanks very much it was interesting.

Always good to talk to Lisa Beyers. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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