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Famous Saddam Uday Hussein

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    Uday Hussein’s family constantly surrounded him in positions of power and was the guiding force in his development. The lavish lifestyle that he and his family had is in stark contrast to their humble beginnings in Tikrit, Iraq. Uday’s father, Saddam Hussein, was orphaned at a young age and lived with his uncle (he was raised Sunni). He was arranged to marry his first cousin, Sajida, who would eventually become Uday’s mother. Sajida and Saddam were raised like brother and sister; arranged marriages amongst first cousins were not uncommon in the Middle East at the time .

    Later in life Saddam dreamt of military career and had applied to a military academy. He was rejected and attended law school. This only lasted three years; Saddam dropped out in 1957 to join the growing Pan-Arab movement at the age of 20 . He became involved with the Ba’ath party which opposed Western influence as well as communism. One year later the monarchy of Faisal II fell and was replaced by Abdul Karim Qassim. Qassim soon opened friendly relations with the Soviets and lifted a ban on the Iraqi Communist Party . In 1959 Saddam was involved in a Ba’ath and CIA backed assassination attempt against Qassim.

    The plot ultimately failed which forced Saddam to seek refuge in Cairo. He stayed in Cairo for four years until Qassim was overthrown by Abdul Salam Arif in 1963. When he arrived in Iraq he quickly married Sajida who would soon become pregnant with Uday. It seems that Saddam’s exile had a great influence on his character. Before the assassination attempt he was characterized as being a thuggish kid who had a proclivity to using his fists to resolve conflicts, but now he was viewed as shy introvert who would only speak aloud to voice his disdain for communism .

    He was given a lowly position in the Central Farmers’ Office but eventually earned the rank of Regional Command in the Ba’ath party in 1964 . His slow ascent to power can be traced to his alliance with his uncle’s friend Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. Soon the Arif regime began arresting Ba’ath members, but Saddam stayed in Iraq to fight. He built an internal security force to help unify the party, though it was a failed assassination attempt that became his downfall. He was jailed in 1964 along with other Ba’ath members.

    His incarceration made him miss Uday’s birth on June 18, 1964 . Uday would prove to be an invaluable tool for furthering his father’s political interests. Sajida would bring Uday into prison to visit Saddam with secret Ba’ath messages from Bakr hidden in his diapers. Saddam would pick Uday up and discretely slip the messages out of Uday’s clothes. The guards saw this as intimate paternal act of love and looked the other way . It is odd that Saddam’s prison stay was free of punishment and he received special treatment while his peers received beatings and torture.

    This brought many to question his loyalty. It is known that Saddam had CIA, US embassy, and British Intelligence contacts at the time which further complicates the situation. Robert Anderson (CIA) would pen pamphlets that would be later distributed to Saddam’s paramilitary. Anderson was interested in the Soviets attempts to control Iraq’s massive oil reserves. Others believed he was an informant for Arif which would help explain his mysterious escape from prison in 1966 .

    Saddam’s rise was accelerated by the coup of 1968 that removed Arif’s brother from power (Arif had died in a helicopter crash in 1966). Led by General Bakr, the coup was nearly bloodless and Arif was cooperative and exiled to London. Saddam would later portray his involvement in the overthrow as an act of heroism by claiming he had to learn how to shoot his tank mounted machine gun at a group of loyalist while his step brother fired tank rounds into the presidential palace. In reality Saddam was relegated to guard duty to insure no Arif loyalist would interfere with the overthrow .

    With the Ba’ath party in power Saddam was appointed to Head of National Security; he would use his power to purge and assassinate members of the party for disloyalty and those who also stood in his way. Saddam received another promotion as the Deputy of the Revolutionary Command Council . In a carefully plotted scheme to remove political rivals, 14 “spies” were publically hanged in liberation square. This spectacle was broadcasted on TV and radio and occurred not far from five year old Uday’s line of sight.

    The stunt helped maintain a one party state and helped Saddam to be next in line for the Presidency as he rode around liberation square in a topless limo with President Bakr . The 70’s would be a crucial decade for Iraq’s modernization efforts as well as Saddam’s career. He took credit for the nationalization of Iraq’s oil wealth when a deal was struck with France and the Soviets. As the oil flowed it brought great wealth upon Iraq and legitimized the Ba’ath party for creating a model Middle East state. Building projects were initiated that improved average Iraqi’s lives.

    These initiatives helped create the first welfare state in the Middle East. Free education from kindergarten to college was available to all Iraqi citizens as well as free health care . Iraq’s military power grew significantly in the 70’s. Between 1970-1975, the military doubled with the help of newly purchased arms from the Soviets and French . Saddam immediately attached himself to these achievements and would use them to pry the presidency form Bakr. In 1979 Bakr stood down, allegedly for health and family reasons, as president giving power over Iraq’s immense wealth to Saddam.

    His family had been brought from the lowest levels of society to ruling within two decades. His rise also brought other members of his family into his cabinet and to the highest levels of power. Childhood and education Uday was one of five children in the Hussein family: Qusay (1966), Raghda (1969), Rana (1969), and Hala (1972). In the first years after the 1968 revolution, Saddam, Sajida, Uday, and Qusay lived very comfortably in a large home on the grounds of the presidential palace. Uday grew up surrounded by servants, pools, and fortified walls separating him from the real world.

    The location of his childhood home was shared with other high ranking officials as well as the National Assembly. This was only the first of many homes to come. In 1970 Saddam seized lands to build opulent homes outside of Baghdad . During this time Uday enjoyed a relatively stable family life that Saddam would later use as a source for propaganda. He portrayed his family, to the Iraqi run media, as being the perfect example for what middle class Iraqis should aspire – his social mobility and happiness. In the photos that ran with the article the family does seem genuinely happy; Saddam is playfully swimming with Uday and Qusay in the sea.

    Particular emphasis was given to Sajida as she raised five children while still finding time to be a schoolteacher . Saddam’s extended family made up what constituted as a royal court, giving Uday the unofficial title “the Prince”. During the 1970’s Uday and Qusay would accompany their father to the Nadi al-Said club, literally translated as “the hunting club”, whose members were comprised of Iraq’s elite. Interestingly, Saddam never brought Sajida or any of the girls to the club. At Nadi al-Said, Uday would enjoy playing with the other children engaging in the many activities the club at o offer: massive swimming pools (to anyone’s standards), horseback riding, and tennis courts . As Uday grew older he began to imitate his father’s love of cigars. Like his father Uday was very ambitious. When he was 14 he told an interviewer that he was good at physics and chemistry and wanted to study nuclear physics. He was quoted as saying, “Iraq would need scientists in this field once it had entered the nuclear club . ” Uday had an urge to help his country as well as his father’s plans. In 1980, when Uday was 16, he began attending Kharkh High School.

    The school was Saddam’s alma mater and was also run by Sajida before Saddam reached the presidency. Considering that Uday was more or less royalty he received special treatment throughout high school – essentially he did not have to obey any rules . One year Uday had broken his leg and his class was forced to move to the ground floor . Uday rarely went to class, but when he was in attendance he was surrounded by body guards who did whatever he told them to. Obsessed with cars, Uday would have his guards to seize cars from the families of his classmates’ if he liked them .

    His peers recall him as being loud and vulgar and appearing in class clothed in belts of live ammunition at times. This was in stark contrast to his younger brother who was remembered as being quiet and calculating . Uday’s legendary interest in the opposite sex flourished in high school. Any girl he took a liking to had very little choice in the matter . Early influences Uday had a propensity to western culture that was nourished by his family, namely Saddam. In the 1970’s Saddam would buy tailor made suits from Switzerland, several at a time .

    Many members of the Hussein family bought numerous expensive vehicles. Adnan Khairallah, Saddam’s brother in law and Defense Minister, collected a fleet of expensive cars. He would regularly import a dozen Mercedes at a time with matching chauffeurs. When young Uday saw this massive fleet of vehicles he began compiling his own . Saddam had no problems flaunting his family’s wealth (which was really the country’s wealth in oil revenues). He thought it was the exclusive domain of the family; he has said, “We have grabbed the lines of the sun and we will not go . These are all examples of what may have influenced Uday’s trademark playboy lifestyle. During a vacation in Spain visiting family, Uday boosted to his cousins that he and Qusay had been taken to prison to watch torture sessions and even claiming they were allowed to execute prisoners themselves . Though this could be childhood exaggeration, it is not out of the realm of possibility. When Uday was 12 he joined the Ba’ath party and would experience his father’s work first hand. In 1980, at the age of 16, Uday was taken to the Iran-Iraq front to witness war.

    His father was preparing him for his eventual succession. When he turned 18 he was trained to fly army helicopters. In stunt to show off his inherited heroism, he jumped into his Soviet built Mi-25 attack helicopter to attack an Iranian position. He had actually attacked a friendly position, and by all accounts no one was injured . These early influences are all indicators for Uday’s later violent behavior. Being “the Prince” meant he was seldom, or never punished or disciplined when he was young. Saddam praised his misgivings as long as they did not interfere with his agenda. Later Education

    After Uday graduated high school he had aspirations to study in the US and even completed the SATs with excellent scores (so he claims). Intending on fulfilling his dreams of studying nuclear physics he applied to MIT; he was rejected and claimed it was due to the ongoing Iran-Iraq war and Iraq’s nuclear ambitions . After the rejection he chose to pursue medicine at the University of Baghdad – he only lasted three days. He quickly changed his focus to engineering and graduated in 1984 with average grade of 98. 5%. His academic achievement is very unlikely as he preferred nightclubs to classrooms.

    Teachers who did not give him top grades were often tortured or fired . Noteworthy qualities and/or defects After a man resembling Saddam was killed in 1984 Uday was given a body double . This did not prevent an almost successful assassination in the mid 90’s that left him stricken to a wheelchair for years. He was rarely ever shown in his chair in public. Uday was a greedy man with questionable loyalty (much like his father). He was known to be involved with several business rackets that consisted of smuggling UN aid, oil, drugs, cigarettes through Iranians partners .

    He made millions on top of the wealth he received through his father. Milking money from his country was not his only source of income; he exploited the upper class as well. He captured and ransomed the children of wealthy families, keeping them in his personal prison which he kept secret from his father. In 1995 the average ransom paid was $100,000 per person . Personal interests Uday’s daily life consisted of beautiful women and fast cars. He was known in the Hussein family to be the playboy of the clan. He had amassed hundreds of exotic cars which he liked to be seen in as he frequented the local night clubs.

    His club of choice was the Melia Mansour Hotel rooftop . He could be seen drinking expensive American liquor while enjoying a fine cigar, all the while “seducing” any woman he took an interest in. Sports were of a particular interest to Uday in a personal and political sense. Saddam had given him the position of head of the Olympic Committee as well has taking charge of the national soccer team. It is well known that Uday was a bit of a sadist. This would explain the fortress style Olympic headquarters with matching prison with a capacity of 520 detainees.

    If his athletes performed poorly they would be beaten and kept in near sensory deprived cells. They cells were painted red and were lit in red lights with only a small hole where food could be given . Personal life: Romance When Uday graduated from college he was arranged to marry his cousin Saja. The marriage did not last, ending in only three months. This was extremely short even for the Hussein clan’s standards. The exact reasons for the separation are uncertain, but it is widely believed it was due to Uday’s impotence . Saja went to Geneva with fresh cuts and bruises she said that Uday had given her as a parting gift.

    She told her family that the marriage was not consummated . Suggestions persisted that he rarely achieved sexual fulfillment which would explain his frequent violent behavior. Former guards and associates claim that he would seduce as many as four women a day, some 12 or younger . Relationship with Family Like other secular Arab despots, Saddam appointed Uday with a position of power upon his graduation in 1984. He became the head of the Olympic committee, although he was unsuited for the job and rather young Saddam believed this was a good way for him to learn the art of politics.

    Uday also had extreme control over Iraq’s media. He was editor of the newspaper Babel and was also head of National Security after the Gulf War . Uday’s relationship with his father became rocky after an incident in 1988. Saddam had taken a mistress, named Samira, who he had met through his food taster, Geogeo. Saddam’s first wife, Sajida, became very upset that Saddam was getting very close with Samira. On the verge of a mental breakdown she summoned Uday to protect her honor as well as their inheritance which she claimed was all at risk .

    During a party hosted by the Vice President, in honor of the wife of the Egyptian President, Uday encountered Geogeo. He blamed his father’s infidelity and dishonor of his mother on him. He clubbed him across the head and he instantly fell to the ground. Unconscious, Uday continued to beat him in the head repeatedly. He died hours later in the hospital. Saddam was publically furious; he appeared on TV denouncing Uday and stated he would stand trial. Uday was surprised at his father reaction; Saddam praised him for his two previous murders .

    One was an army colonel who did not approve of Uday’s advances towards his daughter, and the other was an army officer that made a pass at Uday’s wife . After the televised event Saddam beat both Uday and Sajida. In a fit of despair, Uday attempted to kill himself by ingesting a bottle of sleeping pills. He was taken to a hospital to get his stomach pumped. Saddam met him personally at his bedside to beat him once more. Saddam ordered Uday and Sajida to disappear from public life; he stripped Uday of all official titles and responsibilities.

    He was jailed and tried, but the Hussein clan lobbied for Uday which eventually led to the case being dropped. Uday’s father had not fully forgiven him and exiled him to Geneva . Swiss officials denied his diplomatic status and ordered him to return to Iraq after an altercation in a restaurant. Surprisingly Saddam pardoned his son and gave his old positions back to him. Though Saddam had forgiven his son the same could be said about his wife. Still furious with Sajida, he planted explosives in her brother’s helicopter . This act officially ended Saddam’s relationship with his first wife.

    Officially separated, Saddam married Samira. This would be Uday’s first of many transgressions against his father. Uday feared his right to rule was in jeopardy by his family. Using his influence in the media he was able to force his uncle’s resignation with a series of disparaging articles in Babel. Days later, in a drunken rage Uday confronted his uncle and shot him in the leg and killed three of his companions. His uncle claimed it was an accident even though his injuries required the amputation of his leg. Uday’s cousins and husbands to his sisters fled Iraq.

    When they reached Jordan they gave Western intelligence agencies the secrets of Iraq’s weapons program. Believing they had earned asylum in the West they waited but were never granted entry to the US or UK. Saddam was not pleased to say the least. He personally phoned his sons in law promising pardons if they were to return to Iraq. He told Uday that this was his chance at redemption. As they crossed the border into Iraq Uday was waiting for them. He immediately separated his sister’s from their husbands. They were put under house arrest and forced to sign divorce papers.

    Shortly thereafter they both died in a gunfight with Iraqi Special Forces as Uday and Qusay watched from their bullet proof Mercedes . Saddam again was furious at Uday for provoking the defections and possible leaks of national secrets and stripped him once more of his official titles. His sisters resented him for the deaths of their husbands and moved in with their mother . Saddam’s favor started to tilt into Uday’s favor when he uncovered a coup plot. The relationship between Uday and Qusay has always been fierce. They both vied for their father’s attention and would act out on each other.

    From early childhood, they displayed a violent hatred towards each other. In their early teens Qusay was taken to the hospital with stab wounds and broken ribs after particularly violent fight. Later, Qusay was almost blinded when Uday put out a lit cigarette in his eye . While Uday was loud and vulgar, Qusay was much more modest and level headed. Qusay lived a much more conventional lifestyle; he was in a stable marriage that produced four children. He tended to stay in the shadows unlike Uday. After the US invasion in 2003 they went into hiding together, and would die together.

    In 1996 there was an assassination attempt against Uday that nearly succeeded. He was hit eight times, and was saved by the work of a team of Cuban doctors. Saddam convened a meeting at Uday’s bedside chastising him for his behavior that caused so many problems for the family and country. The incident left Uday stuck in a wheelchair for years and he never fully recovered . From that point on Qusay was now in line to replace his father.


    1. Cockburn, Andrew, and Patrick Cockburn. Out of the Ashes: The Resurrection of Saddam Hussein. New York: Harper Perennial, 2000. 2. Coughlin, Con. Saddam: King of Terror. New York: HarperCollins, 2002. 3. Drummond, James. (2003, March 21). Dictator’s older boy licensed to carry on like a medieval prince. Financial Times (London, England) London ed. , 05. Retrieved March, 2 2010 from NewsBank on-line database (Access World News) 4. HAMZA HENDAWI. (2003, July 23). The older son: A reckless, luxury-loving Caligula. Star-Ledger, The (Newark, NJ) FINAL ed. , 4. Retrieved March, 2 2010 from NewsBank on-line database (Access World News) 5. JAMES DRUMMOND. (2003, July 23). IRAQ: Violent, unstable playboy had a licence to kill OBITUARY UDAY HUSSEIN:.

    Financial Times (London, England) London Ed2 ed. , 6. Retrieved March, 2 2010 from NewsBank on-line database (Access World News) 6. Paul Gallagher. (2003, July 23). The Scotsman: Siblings who fought for the affection of world’s most despotic leader. Scotsman, The (Edinburgh, Scotland) 2. Retrieved March, 2 2010 from NewsBank on-line database (Access World News) 7. ROBIN WRIGHT. (1995, September 19). Son’s Rise Becomes Headache for Hussein – Iraq’s First Family in Feud. Chicago Sun-Times LATE SPORTS FINAL ed. , 27. Retrieved March, 2 2010 from NewsBank on-line database (Access World News)

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