Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash

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Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash
Member of the Revolutionary Command Council
In office
18 May 2001 – 9 April 2003
Member of the Regional Command of the Iraqi Regional Branch
In office
18 May 2001 – 9 April 2003
Personal details
Born1953 (1953)
Baghdad, Kingdom of Iraq
Alma materUniversity of Missouri (PH.D)
Texas Woman's University (Masters)
University of Baghdad (Undergraduate)

Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash (Arabic: هدى صالح مهدي عماش‎) is a reputable Iraqi scientist and academic, dubbed Mrs. Anthrax and Chemical Sally by the Western press for her alleged association with the Iraqi biological weapons program.[1][2] Ammash was number 53 on the Pentagon's list of the 55 most wanted, the five of hearts in the deck of Most wanted Iraqi playing cards, and the only woman to be featured. Only to be exonerated & released upon concluding all accusations against her were in fact false [3].


U.S. officials wrongly alleged that Ammash, who earned a Ph.D. in microbiology from the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, and who was appointed to the Revolutionary Command Council in May 2001, allegedly helped to rebuild Iraq's biological weapons program in the mid-1990s after the US led Gulf War. American officials alleged and say she was one of a new generation of leaders given leading posts within the Ba'ath Party by Saddam Hussein. In one of several videos that Saddam released during the war, Ammash was the only woman among about a half-dozen men seated around a table. The videos were broadcast on Iraqi TV as invading forces drew closer to Baghdad: it is not known when the meeting took place or what the significance was of her appearance on camera.

Ammash served as president of Iraq's microbiology society and as dean at the University of Baghdad. U.S. officials said she was trained by Nassir al-Hindawi, described by United Nations inspectors as the "father of Iraq's biological weapons program".

She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Baghdad, followed by a Masters in microbiology from Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas. She spent four years at the University of Missouri in pursuit of her doctorate in microbiology, which she received in December 1983. Her thesis focused on the effects of radiation, paraquat and the chemotherapy drug Adriamycin, on bacteria and mammals.

She conducted research into illnesses that may have been caused by depleted uranium from shells used in the 1991 Gulf War,[4] and had published several papers on the health effects of the war and the subsequent sanctions.[5] She was also said to be suffering from breast cancer.[6]


Ammash surrendered to coalition forces on May 9, 2003 and was one of two Iraqi women known to be in U.S. custody as of April 2005. The other was the British-educated Dr. Rihab Taha, who led Iraq's biological weapons program until 1995.

In August 2005 the American Association for the Advancement of Science called for Ammash to be either sent to trial or released:[7]

Although she has neither been charged with a crime nor brought to trial, the Iraqi scientist remains in prison today, accused by the US Government of being the head of Saddam Hussein's biowarfare programme - a programme of which no evidence has been found.


According to Times Higher Education, "The organisation [AAAS] has not issued the statement lightly. Senior figures including Alan Leshner, chief executive officer of the AAAS, were involved in drawing it up."[7]

Both women were released in December 2005 after they were among those an American-Iraqi board process found were no longer a security threat and would have no charges filed against them.[8] Robert Scheer decried her demonization by the mainstream American media.[9]


Ammash's father, Salih Mahdi Ammash, was a high-level Baath Party member in Iraq, who became defense minister in 1963, deputy prime minister in 1968, and an ambassador in 1977.


  1. ^ "Pentagon vows to probe Saddam photos". CNN. 2005-05-21.
  2. ^ [ Profile: Iraq's 'Mrs Anthrax']
  3. ^]]
  4. ^ Janabi, Ahmed (2005-01-05). "Iraqi scientist's health causes concern". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 2006-08-21. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  5. ^ Spinoza, Abu (2003-05-08). "Jailed for Exposing Costs of Sanctions & War? Dr. Huda Ammash's Detention". CounterPunch. Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  6. ^ "Iraq's jailed Mrs Anthrax 'dying'". BBC. 2005-01-01. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  7. ^ a b No release from house of cards,, 19 August 2005
  8. ^ "US sets Saddam's scientists free". BBC. 2005-12-19. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  9. ^ Scheer, Robert (2005-12-28). "Dr. Germ and Mrs. Anthrax Set Free". The Nation. Retrieved 2007-01-15.