Source: Express UK

The shadow of Saddam Hussein and violent Iraqi politics hung over the family slaughtered in France, the Daily Express can reveal. Businessman Saad Al-Hilli had links to Saddam’s ruthless Baath Party. And there were claims from neighbours last night that he had been spied on by Special Branch during the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

An outwardly respectable businessman and engineer who designed parts for aircraft, Mr Al-Hilli lived with his wife Iqbal and two daughters in upmarket Claygate, near Esher, Surrey. Their £1million detached mock Tudor home stands on a quiet, treelined road and is a world away from their roots in Baghdad.

Mr Al-Hilli’s father is believed to have held a high-ranking post in the Baath Party but fell foul of the Saddam regime and fled to the UK. A family friend said: “Saad’s father was a mechanical engineer but the Baath Party and him didn’t get on so he left Iraq with nothing and built up the business here in the UK. I think they got out of Iraq in the Seventies.”

There were claims by friends yesterday that Mr Al-Hilli was becoming increasingly concerned for his safety in the days before the massacre. Bizarre Jack Saltman, whose garden overlooks the Al-Hillis’ home, said: “I know one little thing which I am not prepared to speak about at the moment. I will tell the police about it. It was something Saad said to me before he went on holiday.”

Another neighbour, retired finance director Philip Murphy, who lives opposite the family, told of a bizarre week when police asked if they could park a car in his driveway. He said: “I observed them and they were watching Mr Al-Hilli and his brother. I presume they were members of Special Branch. They would sit there all day in their parked car just looking at the house. Then when the men emerged and drove off they would follow them.

“It was all very odd. I never told the family they were being watched.”

FYI: French Alps shootings have ‘hallmarks of a professional assassination’

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