Saddam Hussein’s second wife, who lives with the ousted Iraqi leader’s only surviving son under an assumed name in Lebanon, said her husband calls or writes to them at least once a week, a London newspaper reported.
“If he cannot say something in detail on the telephone, I know I will receive a letter in two to three days giving me an explanation,” Samira Shahbandar told The Sunday Times in an interview.
After the Iraq war in March, Shahbandar # described by the paper as mysterious and the closest of Saddam’s four wives # said she crossed the border into Syria, then travelled to Beirut where she was given a Lebanese passport.
Now living under the name of Hadija, she said she expected to move to Paris next month.
She said Saddam, ousted as Iraq’s president following the US-led war on Iraq in March, had given her five million dollars in cash and a hoard of jewellery and gold before sending her and his 21-year-old son, Ali, over the border into Syria.
Ali, Saddam’s only surviving son, has changed his name to Hassan, according to his Lebanese passport.
Saddam’s two elder sons, Qusay and Uday, were killed by US forces in the war. Their mother and Saddam’s first wife, Sajida, is thought to be in Syria, the paper said.
A representative of The Sunday Times met Shahbandar, whom the paper described as blonde with hazel eyes, in La Cottage, a restaurant in Ba’albeck, near Beirut. The date of the interview was not given.
The weekly printed black and white photos of her and said it was the first time her face had been published.
Shahbandar, whose age was also not given, said Saddam attributed his loss of power to betrayal by his closest aides.
She said Saddam had arrived at her hiding place on April 9, the day Baghdad fell, to say goodbye.
“He came to me very depressed and sad,” she told the paper.
“He took me to the next room and cried. He knew he had been betrayed.
“He told me not to be afraid. He kissed Ali and said the same # ‘Don’t be afraid. Take care of your mother. People will come and they will bring you things to help.'”
Speaking fondly of Saddam, Shahbandar added: “If I know my husband, he will not be captured.”
A tribal leader and faithful follower of the ousted president told AFP last week that Saddam was hiding out west of Baghdad from where he commands operations against the US occupation of Iraq.