March 31, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 489

Huda Ammash – The Head of the Iraqi Biological Weapons Program

March 31, 2003
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 489

Huda Ammash is the daughter of Saleh Mahdi Ammash, a former minister of defensewho was allegedly murdered by Saddam Hussein because he was seen as a potential competitor for power. A recently televised picture of an Iraqi leadership meeting shows Huda sitting next to Saddam's Hussein's son, Qusai Saddam Hussein. Her appearance led to a short article being written about her by Zuhair Al-Mukh, an Iraqi academician residing in Vienna. The article was published by the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.[1] The following are excerpts from the article

A Leader in Iraq's Ba'ath Party

"In the common political culture, there is an oft repeated saying that the entrance of a woman from any door into the political campaign is nothing but a cosmetic activity [intended] for men who exercise absolute authority. This judgment has a lot of truth but it is not a useful rule in all cases. One exception to this rule is Huda Saleh Mahdi Ammash who has become, since May 2001, the first woman, and perhaps the last, member of the country's leadership of the ruling Ba'th Party in Iraq."

"Some consider her as a lioness ready to pounce on her prey; others call her 'a fox.' The truth is she is both: she has the courage of a lioness and the slyness of a fox. She knows when to appear forcefully on stage… and when to seize upon an opportunity. She represents the most incongruity known in contemporary Iraqi politics: her father Saleh Mahdi Ammash, who in the late sixties of the last century occupied the office of the Vice President and Minister of Defense… was murdered by Saddam, but the daughter is obedient to the murderer of her father."

"Huda Ammash was born in 1953 in Baghdad in a home engulfed in politics. Her father, who participated actively in the overthrow of the regime of Abd Al-Rahman Aref in 1968, afforded his daughter many opportunities when she decided to join the Ba'ath party while she was still a high school student."

"In the early seventies, she enrolled to study biology at the Science College of the University of Baghdad, graduating in 1975. These were difficult years for her because of her father's travails..."

"In reality, the shy and hesitant student did not pay much attention to the fate of her father, considering it a tax on the struggle for the high principles which she believed in. [There] was a tremendous transformation in her personality as she increasingly gained confidence in organization and implementation. She is the second generation of the Ba'ath but she suddenly decided to leave Iraq in pursuit of higher education… She received a Master's degree in microbiology from the University of Texas and a Ph.D. in the same field from the University of Missouri in 1983. She immediately returned to Iraq as a woman with a calling and a message."

"Being indefatigable, she was sent by the party to a number of Arab countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemen, to play an active role in energizing the Iraqi Ba'ath party cells… She combines more than one personality. Apart from being a political personality, she was a professor of biology at the University of Baghdad (1990-1995), in addition to her being in charge of students and the youth bureau [of the party]."

Huda Ammash's Role in the Development of Biological Weapons

"Her absolutely most dangerous duty was the presidency of 'The Iraq Society for Medical Sciences' in 1996. American intelligence services believe that Huda Ammash played a central role in revitalizing the program for the development of biological weapons since the middle of the 1990's."

"Sources close to the UN Inspection Panel suggest that Huda Ammash received concerted training [from] Nasser Al-Hindawi, who is broadly believed to be 'the father' of the Iraqi biological weapons program.""Huda Ammash did not complain, like other comrades, about the heavy duties she shouldered. She continued, like hell's fire, to seek more. In fact, she was later appointed the secretary of the professional bureau of the party. She has also become a member of the party's central committee."

[1]Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), March 29, 2003.

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