Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid (Arabic: 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.
He married one of Saddam Hussein's daughters, Raghad Saddam, and lived in Iraq until 1995. 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:
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. The initial promises of a wealth of information were, allegedly, not fulfilled. According to U.S. and Jordanian officials, the intelligence provided by Hussein Kamel on Iraqi secret weapons programs was of limited content and value.
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
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.
According to an alternative version of events, the Kamel brothers were killed less than 24 hours following the divorce decrees, in a gun battle with other cousins trying to gain back their clan honor in the eyes of Saddam.
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.
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." Kamel's version of events appear to have been borne out in the wake of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.
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.