washingtonpost.com  > World > Middle East > The Gulf > Iraq
Page 2 of 2  < Back  

Threads Unravel in Iraqi's Tale

For the past three weeks, Hanna has continued to insist in telephone interviews that she told the truth.

She said Faisal had moved to Jordan and could corroborate her story. Jordanian government officials checked all border crossings at the request of The Post and said no such person had entered Jordan since 2000. Faisal works as a parking lot attendant in Baghdad, where a Post correspondent met him Wednesday.


Jumana Michael Hanna appeared traumatized when she escorted Post journalists to a police academy where she said she was tortured and raped. (2003 Photos Dana Smillie For The Washington Post)


Hanna also directed a Post correspondent to one and then another graveyard between Baghdad and Baqubah where she said her husband was buried. He was not interred in either place, a Post correspondent found.

She then directed a Post correspondent to a man who she said had transported her husband's body from Baghdad to the graveyard. That man died 10 years ago, but his job has been assumed by his son, Toma Kalabat, Anwar's cousin.

Kalabat said Anwar was alive and directed a Post correspondent to his brother, uncle and mother. The brother and uncle confirmed that Haitam Jamil Anwar was alive. Kalabat said that Hanna remains in touch with him.

After she was taken into U.S. protective custody in 2003, Hanna identified a number of Iraqis, including a brigadier general, as among those who participated in torture at the jail. Based on her testimony, a number of Iraqis were subsequently arrested by U.S. and Iraqi security forces. They were all released after Hanna was flown to the United States and the case languished, officials said.

Donald Campbell, a New Jersey superior court judge who oversaw the case in Baghdad as one of the American advisers to the Iraqi judicial system, said Hanna had convinced investigators and other Iraqi and American officials in Baghdad that she was telling the truth. He noted, however, that an Iraqi doctor had examined her for evidence of past torture and rape and did not believe her. The doctor's opinion was dismissed, he said. The Post was unable to independently verify or refute her allegations of abuse.

"She was interviewed many times over many months and she was always consistent," Campbell said in a telephone interview from New Jersey. "I recall asking, 'Is she telling the truth?' The investigators told me that there was no way she could make this up."

U.S. officials also said before The Post article was published in 2003 that they found her credible.

After arriving in California, where she was first resettled, Hanna met Sara Solovitch, the author of the Esquire article, and the two agreed to work on a book about her experiences. However, her claims began to become more and more outlandish, and Solovitch began to doubt her, according to the Esquire piece.

Hanna told Solovitch, for instance, that she attended Oxford University in Britain, although she could speak very little English; she had told The Post that she had taken business courses in Baghdad. She told Esquire that she had a bizarre, direct encounter with Uday Hussein, although she had told The Post that she never saw or heard him. She also told Esquire that other female prisoners were killed in a gruesome fashion. In interviews with The Post, she spoke of beatings and rapes of female prisoners, but not of killings.

"I went into this project anticipating that I would be working with a genuine hero," Solovitch said in an e-mail to this reporter. "Now, I believe that she is at best a pathological liar, at worst a highly intelligent con artist. Jumana took advantage of all of us."

Special correspondent Khalid Saffar in Baghdad contributed to this report.


< Back  1 2

© 2005 The Washington Post Company