Sajida Khairallah Talfah (Arabic: ساجدة خيرالله طلفاح) (born June 24, 1937), is the widow and cousin of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, and mother of two sons (Uday and Qusay) and three daughters (Raghad, Rana, and Hala). She is the oldest daughter of Khairallah Talfah, her husband's uncle. She was played by Shohreh Aghdashloo in the BBC adaptation House of Saddam in 2008, in which her character played a major role.
Wife of Saddam Hussein
Sajida and Saddam had five children together. In 1964, their first son Uday was born followed by Qusay in 1966. In 1968 their first daughter Raghad was born, followed by Rana in 1969, and finally their youngest daughter Hala in 1972.
In 1986, Saddam married another woman, Samira Shahbandar, while still married to Sajida. Sajida was enraged, and Uday Hussein, son of Saddam and Sajida, was also angry over his father's new wife. Uday believed that his inheritance was endangered by the new wife. He also took it as an insult to his mother. In 1988, at a party thrown in the honor of Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Uday beat and stabbed Kamel Hana Gegeo to death. Uday believed that it was Kamel who introduced Saddam and Samira, and that he arranged their meetings. Some say the murder of Gegeo was a request of Sajida. Although her husband married another woman, Sajida and Saddam never divorced.
Sajida hardly ever appeared in public with her husband, so for many years her existence was obscure to the Iraqi people. However, when rumors surfaced that Saddam had married another woman, and that his family life was now strained, more pictures and videos appeared in the Iraqi media of Saddam and Sajida, as well as them with their children. These pictures and videos were intended to make it seem as if Saddam's family life was not strained.
In 1989, Sajida's brother Adnan, an Iraqi Army General, was killed in a supposed helicopter crash in the desert during a sandstorm. Many people believe that Saddam ordered one of his bodyguards to plant a bomb in the helicopter because of Adnan's growing popularity. Sajida was furious, and blamed Saddam, believing her brother's death wasn't an accident.
Sajida, along with many members of her family, fled Iraq in 1990 because of the Gulf War, leaving Iraq before the bombings began. There are many different reports on where the Hussein family settled, but a possible location is Switzerland. The Hussein family returned to Iraq after the war was over.
Sajida is believed to have fled to Qatar hours before the bombing of Baghdad began on 19 March 2003. Her youngest daughter Hala is believed to have gone with her, while Raghad and Rana Hussein fled to neighbouring Jordan.
In July 2004, she hired a multilingual and multi-national defence team of some 20 lawyers to defend her husband during his trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other offences. However, on August 8, 2005, Saddam's family announced that they had dissolved the Jordan-based legal team and that they had appointed Khalil al-Duleimi, the only Iraq-based member, as sole legal counsel.
On July 2, 2006, Iraq national security advisor Muwaffaq al-Rubaie announced that Sajida and her daughter Raghad are placed 16th and 17th on the Iraqi government's most wanted list for financing Sunni Muslim insurgents under Saddam's reign.
It is also believed that Sajida and her daughter Raghad have been funding the insurgency in Iraq with money they took with them as they fled the country. The lawyer leading Saddam's defence team stated that "the charges against Raghad and Sajida are baseless" and that "Sajida lives in her house in Qatar alone and has no contact with anyone, not even the lawyers". He also stated that Sajida "is undergoing medical treatment".
In 2015, Sajida's family denied rumors that she had died.