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Hussein Kamel al-Majid
Minister of Military Industries

In office
Prime Minister Saddam Hussein
Personal details
Born 1954
Died February 23, 1996(1996-02-23)
Political party Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party
Spouse(s) Raghad Saddam
Religion Sunni Islam

Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid (Arabic language: حسين كامل حسن المجيد‎) ( 1954 – 23 February 1996) was the son-in-law and second cousin of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. He defected to Jordan and assisted United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection teams assigned to look for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.


Kamel rose through the military ranks to become the Supervisor of the Republican Guard, Iraq's elite military forces, in 1982. He later became the Minister of Industries, heading the Military Industrialisation Commission and supervising Iraq's weapons development programs from 1987. Kamel became oil minister of Iraq in 1990.[1]

He married one of Saddam Hussein's daughters, Raghad Saddam, and lived in Iraq until 1995.[2] On 7 August of that year, Kamel and his wife defected from Iraq, along with Kamel's brother, Saddam Kamel, and the brother's wife, Rana Saddam, another of Saddam Hussein's daughters. In a 21 September 1995 interview with CNN, Hussein Kamel explained:[3]

This is what made me leave the country, the fact that Saddam Hussein surrounds himself with inefficient ministers and advisers who are not chosen for their competence but according to the whims of the Iraqi president. And as a result of this the whole of Iraq is suffering.

Jordan granted asylum to the Kamels, and there they began to cooperate with UNSCOM and its director Rolf Ekéus, the United States' CIA and the British MI6. Kamel provided the inspection teams with a wealth of information.

Kamel confirmed what inspectors had been able to ascertain shortly before his defection, that Iraq had operated a biological warfare program prior to the Gulf War, providing locations for large amounts of undeclared technical documentation. The defection appears to have had a psychological impact in Baghdad due to uncertainty over what Kamel would reveal: soon afterwards, inspectors were invited to revisit weapons sites and new documents were turned over for examination.

Return to Iraq and death[]

Kamel and his wife, along with his brother and sister-in-law, returned to Iraq in the summer of 1996. Both of Saddam's daughters quickly divorced the men, for 'treason'. The Kamel brothers were killed less than 24 hours following the divorce decrees, in a gun battle with other cousins attempting to gain back "their 'clan honor' in the eyes of [Saddam]".[4]

After effects[]

In a 25 January 1999 report to the U.N. Security Council, UNSCOM declared that the history of the Iraqi weapons inspections "must be divided into two parts, separated by the events following the departure from Iraq, in August 1995, of Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel."

Kamel maintained that Iraq had destroyed its weapons of mass destruction and related programs after the end of the first Gulf War.

I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear—were destroyed.[3]

A 3 March 2003 Newsweek report said that Kamel's revelations were "hushed up" because inspectors "hoped to bluff Saddam [Hussein] into revealing still more."[5] Kamel's version of events appear to have been borne out in the wake of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq when no weapons of mass destruction were found.

In February 1996, after intermediaries for Saddam Hussein had assured them that all would be forgiven, Hussein Kamel and Saddam Kamel were convinced to return to Iraq with their wives. Reportedly, immediately upon their return, they were ordered to divorce their wives and were denounced as traitors. Three days after their arrival, on 23 February, they refused to surrender to Saddam's security forces and were killed in a 13-hour firefight at a safe house.[6]

In the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Bush administration figures—including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell—repeatedly cited Kamel's testimony as evidence that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, even though Kamel had openly stated that he had overseen the destruction of all such weapons.[7]


  1. Ibrahim, Youssef M. (30 October 1990). "Gulf Leader Says Failed Overtures Could Mean War by Year's End". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  2. King Abdullah II of Jordan: Our Last Best Chance; Viking Press; New York, New York; 2011; p. 95.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Transcript of part one of Correspondent Brent Sadler's exclusive interview with Hussein Kamel; CNN; 21 September 1995.
  4. Shahin, Miriam (1 April 1996). "The final straw". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  5. Barry, John (3 March 2003). "The Defector’s Secrets". Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  6. Anthony H. Cordesman; Ahmed S. Hashim (1997). Iraq. Westview Press. pp. 24. ISBN 978-0-7867-4234-9. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  7. "Star Witness on Iraq Said Weapons Were Destroyed". 27 February 2003. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 

External links[]

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