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Context of 'July 19, 2004: Last Female Detainne Released from Abu Ghraib’s Hard Site'

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Huda al-Azzawi, said to be Iraq’s richest woman after Saddam Hussein’s wife Sajida, and owner of the Ishtar Mercedes import company, becomes a victim of blackmail. An informant working for the US military demands that she gives him 10,000 dollar or else he will report to the Americans that she and her family are working for the Iraqi resistance. She does not give in. That month the blackmailer follows up with his threat. US soldiers interrogate Al-Azzawi’s brother, Ali, and her older sister, Nahla. The informant also leads a number of raids with US soldiers on her family’s properties. [Guardian, 9/20/2004; Le Monde (Paris), 10/12/2004]

Entity Tags: Huda al-Azzawi, Nahla al-Azzawi, Ali al-Azzawi

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

“There was never enough food and one day,” Huda al-Azzawi, detained at Abu Ghraib (see January 4, 2004), recalls, “I came across an old woman who had collapsed from hunger. The Americans were always eating lots of hot food. I found some in a packet in a bin and gave it to her. They caught me and threw me in a one-meter-square punishment cell. They then poured cold water on me for four hours.” [Guardian, 9/20/2004]

Entity Tags: Huda al-Azzawi

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

News of the commotion surrounding the Abu Ghraib scandal apparently does not reach prisoners at the Hard Site. Huda al-Azzawi says she heard about the scandal only after her release in July 2004. “Retrospectively, I realize that after the scandal broke, our situation improved,” she later recalls. [Le Monde (Paris), 10/12/2004] She is now allowed to exercise in the yard outside for 10 minutes a day. She is given a bed, and assigned a new female guard, “Mrs. Palmer,” who tries to learn Arabic. Later, as hundreds of detainees are released, Al-Azzawi and her sister are moved from their cells to a tent. Three US generals will come to interview her in an apparent investigation of the death of her brother Ayad (see December 24, 2003). But according to her, no apology is offered. [Guardian, 9/20/2004]

Entity Tags: Huda al-Azzawi

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

MPs evacuate all the prisoners from the Hard Site at Abu Ghraib, except Huda al-Azzawi and a small number of other women in the upstairs cells. The guard assigned to her, “Mrs. Palmer,” tells them, according to Al-Azzawi, that during the inspection prisoners must lie quietly on their beds. They are promised with more time outside of their cells if they behave well. [Guardian, 9/20/2004]

Entity Tags: Huda al-Azzawi

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

Huda al-Azzawi is the last female detainee to be released from the Hard Site at Abu Ghraib. She is flown by a helicopter to Al Taji, a US military base north of Baghdad.“After eight months in prison they suddenly treated me like a queen,” she later recalls. “It was weird. They offered me some Pepsi. I could take a shower. There was air conditioning. There were four female soldiers to look after me. The doctor came to see me four times in 24 hours. They made me sign a piece of paper promising not to leave the country. And then I was free.” [Guardian, 9/20/2004] Her release is reportedly due to intervention by Sheik Hicham al-Duleimi. During her stay in prison, her husband had filed for divorce. After her release, she became the Sheik’s nineteenth wife. “I would have liked,” she said looking back, “at the moment I was leaving my cell, to have had a profound thought or to have pronounced a meaningful sentence. I was the last woman in the prison! But my head was empty. Bizarrely, the only words that came to my mind were English: ‘Bye-bye.’ But, I believe I have still not completely left Abu Ghraib.” [Le Monde (Paris), 10/12/2004] Asked what she thinks of Americans now, after the terrible ordeal of her and her family, she answers, “I hate them.” [Guardian, 9/20/2004]

Entity Tags: Huda al-Azzawi

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

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