Layla Al-Attar

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Layla Al-Attar
Layla Al-Attar, 2014.jpg
Born 1944 (1944)
Baghdad, Iraq
Died June 27, 1993(1993-06-27) (aged 48–49)
Baghdad, Iraq

Layla Al-Attar (Arabic: ليلى العطار‎‎, born in Baghdad, Iraq) was an Iraqi artist and painter who graduated from the Academy of fine Arts in Baghdad in 1965. Layla had once held five one-women shows in Iraq and took part in all national and other collective exhibitions held in the country and abroad. Layla also took part in Kuwait Biennial (1973), the first Arab Biennial (Baghdad 1974), second Arab Biennial (1976), Kuwait Biennial (1981) and won the Golden Sail Medal in Cairo Biennial (1984). At the time of her death, she was director of the Iraqi National Art Museum.

On 27 June 1993, Layla, her husband and their housekeeper were killed by a U.S. missile attack on her house which was ordered by U.S. President Bill Clinton. The attack also blinded her daughter.[citation needed]

Later on, a study prepared by the CIA's Counter Terrorism Center suggested that Kuwait might have fabricated the alleged presidential assassination plot in an effort to play up the "continuing Iraqi threat" to Western interests in the Persian Gulf.


A tile mosaic depicting U.S. President George H.W. Bush with a look of astonishment on his face was installed on the floor of the lobby at Rasheed Hotel after the Persian Gulf War. This was intended to force any visitors to walk over his face to enter the hotel (a serious insult in Arab culture).

Kris Kristofferson dedicated and wrote a song about Layla called "The Circle" which appears on his live album Broken Freedom Song: Live from San Francisco. In the live introduction to the song on that CD, Kristofferson explains that it covers both the death of Layla Al-Attar and the problem of los desaparecidos, the Argentines who "disappeared": that were secretly arrested and murdered by the Argentinian dictatorial government. Kristofferson states that he linked the two as examples of governments taking no responsibility for the deaths of non-combatants.

The character Layal in the play Nine Parts of Desire is based on Al-Attar.[1] Heather Raffo, the author of the play, stated that she saw a painting by Al-Attar in an art gallery and was curious about it, and this prompted her to have the play written, with the Al-Attar character central in it.[1]

Marta Gomez later covered the Kris Kristofferson song on a Kristofferson tribute album, The Pilgrim. A celebration of Kris Kristofferson,[2] adding a verse in Spanish.


  1. ^ a b Sandler, Lauren. "An American and Her Nine Iraqi Sisters." The New York Times. October 17, 2004. Retrieved on April 13, 2014.
  2. ^ Marta Gómez: De dulce by Carles Gracia Escarp 21/06/2013 for Accessed online using Google Translate on June 25, 2015

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