SAN'A, Yemen – With tears and sobs, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein 's elder daughter joined hundreds of Baathists in the Yemeni capital on Wednesday to mark the passage of 40 days of mourning his death.
Raghad Hussein, accompanied by her son and daughter and several of Saddam's defense lawyers, was greeted with chants of "Revenge for Saddam!" and "Eternity to Saddam!" on arrival at the San'a airport.
A convoy of cars carrying pictures of Saddam then drove them to a palace in downtown San'a for a ceremony hosted by the chief of the state security forces, Yahia Mohammed Abdullah Saleh, who is also a cousin of the Yemeni president.
Addressing the gathering, Raghad praised the insurgents in Iraq, saying that "as long as the resistance and the mujahedeen are fulfilling their duties in Iraq, the Iraqi people, without any doubt, will achieve victory."
"Saddam Hussein is the real hero and the pan-Arab leader. I am proud of him and proud of his great struggle and sacrifices," she said.
Other speakers at the ceremony lashed out at the United States and Iran as well as Arab regimes they did not identify but labeled as U.S. collaborators in Iraq.
Saddam was sentenced to death on Nov. 5 for the killing of 148 Shiites in Dujail after an attempt in 1982 to assassinate him. The former dictator was executed on Dec. 30 in an unruly scene that brought worldwide criticism of the Iraqi government. Video of the execution, recorded on a cell phone camera, showed Saddam being taunted on the gallows.
Saddam loyalists chose to mark the end of the traditional 40-day mourning period in Yemen a day early to draw attention, because similar ceremonies were scheduled across the Middle East on Thursday as well as this weekend.
The presence of a large contingent of former Baathists in Yemen has long been known.
Saddam loyalists have set up a media network in Yemen that issues statements in the name of the defunct Iraqi Baath Party, which was disbanded after U.S.-led forces overthrew Saddam in 2003. Baathists are believed to be trying to regroup and revive their network across the Middle East.
Raghad, who supervised Saddam's defense, is known as "Little Saddam" because she shares her father's strident temperament. She has lived in Jordan under the condition that she not engage in political activities or make public statements. The Iraqi government accuses her and other Baathists of using millions allegedly stolen by Saddam to help finance the insurgency.