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Uday Hussein

Uday Hussein

Son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
Countries Iraq
Occupations Politician Journalist
Gender male
Birth 18 June 1964 (Tikrit, Saladin Governorate, Iraq)
Death 22 July 2003 (Mosul, Duhok Governorate, Iraq)
Politics Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party – Iraq Region
Mother: Sajida Talfah
Father: Saddam Hussein
Siblings: Raghad HusseinHala HusseinRana Hussein
Education University of Baghdad
Uday Hussein
The details

Uday Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti (Arabic: عُدي صدّام حُسين‎‎) (18 June 1964 – 22 July 2003) was the eldest son of Saddam Hussein by his first wife, Sajida Talfah, and the brother of Qusay Hussein. Uday was seen, for several years, as the likely successor to his father, but lost the place as heir apparent to Qusay due to injuries he sustained in an assassination attempt, his increasingly erratic behavior, and his troubled relationship with the family.

His reputed actions include multiple allegations of rape, murder and torture, including of Iraqi Olympic athletes and the national football team. He was several times imprisoned, exiled and received a nominal death sentence by his father's regime.

Following the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was killed alongside his brother Qusay, and nephew Mustapha by Task Force 20 after a three-hour gunfight in Mosul.


Uday Saddam was born in Tikrit to Saddam Hussein and Sajida Talfah while his father was in prison.

Uday graduated from high school with very high marks. He started his university days in the Baghdad University College of Medicine. He only lasted in the medical college for three days, after which he moved to College of Engineering about a kilometer away. Uday gained a degree in engineering and graduated summa cum laude from Baghdad University, ranking No. 1 in a class of 76 students. However, some of his professors later admitted that Uday barely managed to earn passing grades in many of his classes, and was granted the honour of valedictorian solely because he was Saddam's son.

Although his status as Saddam's elder son made him Saddam's prospective successor, Uday fell out of favour with his father. In October 1988, at a party in honour of Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Uday murdered his father's personal valet and food taster, Kamel Hana Gegeo, possibly at the request of his mother. Before an assemblage of horrified guests, an intoxicated Uday bludgeoned Gegeo and repeatedly stabbed him with an electric carving knife. Gegeo had recently introduced Saddam to a younger woman, Samira Shahbandar, who later became Saddam's second wife. Uday considered his father's relationship with Shahbandar an insult to his mother. He also may have feared losing succession to Gegeo, whose loyalty and fidelity to Saddam Hussein was unquestioned.

As punishment for the murder, Saddam briefly imprisoned his son and sentenced him to death; however Uday probably served only three months in a private prison. In response to personal intervention from King Hussein of Jordan, Saddam released Uday, banishing him to Switzerland as the assistant to the Iraqi ambassador there. He was expelled by the Swiss government in 1990 after he was repeatedly arrested for fighting.

Saddam later appointed Uday chairman of the Iraqi Olympic Committee and the Iraq Football Association. In the former role, he tortured athletes who failed to win. Furthermore, he founded his own sports club called Al-Rasheed and signed all the best players from the country to play for the club as they went on to dominate Iraqi football until their dissolving in 1990. He also became the editor of the Babel newspaper, the general secretary of the Iraqi Union of Students and the head of the Fedayeen Saddam. Uday seemed proud of his reputation and called himself Abu Sarhan, an Arabic term for "wolf".

Uday sustained permanent injuries during an assassination attempt in December 1996. Struck by between 7 and 13 bullets while driving in Mansour (Bagdad) Uday was initially believed to be paralyzed. Evacuated to Ibn Sina Hospital, he eventually recovered but with a noticeable limp. Despite repeated operations, however, two bullets remained lodged in his spine and could not be removed due to their location near the spinal cord. In the wake of Uday's subsequent disabilities, Saddam gave Qusay increasing responsibility and authority, designating him as his heir apparent in 2000.

Uday opened accounts with Yahoo! and MSN Messenger, which created controversy when the provisioning of the accounts allegedly violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iraq. Uday also amassed a large video collection, found in his palace in 2003, much of which featured himself in both public and private situations.

Personal life

In a sign of loyalty to Saddam, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri who was vice president of the Revolutionary Command Council, consented to marry his daughter to Uday. But al-Douri's influence with Hussein was so substantial that he could even levy a condition: that the union would not be consummated. Because of Uday's violent and erratic behaviour, al-Douri quickly petitioned that his daughter be permitted to divorce Uday. He was reported to have converted to Shia Islam, but he denied these reports.

Allegations of crimes

A report released on 20 March 2003, one day after the American led invasion of Iraq, by ABC News detailed several allegations against Uday:

  • As head of the Iraqi Olympic Committee, Uday oversaw the imprisonment and torture of Iraqi athletes who were deemed not to have performed to expectations. He would insult athletes who performed below his expectations by calling them dogs and monkeys to their faces. One defector reported that imprisoned football players were forced to kick a concrete ball after failing to reach the 1994 FIFA World Cup finals. The Iraqi national football team were seen with their heads shaved after failing to achieve a good result in a tournament in the 1980s. Another defector claimed that athletes were dragged through a gravel pit and subsequently immersed in a sewage tank to induce infection in their wounds. After Iraq lost 4–1 to Japan in the quarter finals of the 2000 AFC Asian Cup in Lebanon, goalkeeper Hashim Khamis Hassan, defender Abdul-Jabar Hashim Hanoon and forward Qahtan Chathir Drain were labelled as guilty of loss and eventually flogged for three days by Uday's security.

Other allegations include:

  • Kidnapping young Iraqi women from the streets in order to rape them. Uday was known to intrude on parties and otherwise "discover" women whom he would later rape. Time published an article in 2003 detailing his sexual brutality.
  • An HIV testing kit was also found among his personal effects. Only later, Iraq was allowed to import certain commodities such as food and medical supplies legally under the UN Oil For Food programme). This program turned to be a scandal as Saddam managed to corrupt the program to his benefit. Saddam Hussein exploited the program, earning some $1.7 billion through kickbacks and surcharges, and $10.9 billion through illegal oil smuggling, according to a 2004 Central Intelligence Agency investigation. Wide-scale mismanagement and unethical conduct on the part of some UN employees also plagued the program, according to the UN Independent Inquiry Committee. There were individuals who were reported by CIA that involved in Saddam scheme to corrupt, including Oscar S. Wyatt Jr., a prominent Texas energy investor with a long history of dealings in Iraq, received vouchers for 29.7 million barrels, according to press reports. Benon Sevan, the UN chief of the Oil-for-Food Program, received an allocation of 13 million barrels. Charles Pasqua, a businessman and former French interior minister, received an allocation of 11 million barrels. Megawati Sukarnoputri, the former Indonesian president, was allocated 6 million barrels.
  • Usage of an iron maiden on persons running afoul of him.
  • Beating an army officer unconscious when the man refused to allow Uday to dance with his wife; the man later died of his injuries. Uday also shot and killed an army officer who did not salute him.
  • Stealing approximately 1,200 luxury vehicles, including a Rolls-Royce Corniche valued at over $200,000.
  • Plotting, in 2000, to assassinate Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress. This was done shortly after Saddam named his younger son heir apparent to the dictatorship, and Uday attempted to remove Qusay from that position by currying favour with his father through the assassination.


House of Uday and Qusay in Mosul, Iraq destroyed by U.S. forces, 31 July 2003

On 22 July 2003, Task Force 20, aided by troops of the United States Army 101st Airborne Division, surrounded Uday, Qusay and Qusay's 14-year-old son Mustapha during a raid on a home in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Uday had been the Ace of Hearts on the most-wanted Iraqi playing cards (with Qusay being the Ace of Clubs). Acting on a tip from an unidentified Iraqi, the blocking element from the 101st Airborne Division provided security while the Task Force 20 operators attempted to apprehend the inhabitants of the house. As many as 200 American troops, later aided by OH-58 Kiowa helicopters and an A-10 "Warthog", surrounded and fired upon the house, thus killing Uday, Qusay, and Qusay's son. After approximately four hours of battle, soldiers entered the house and found four bodies, including the Hussein brothers' bodyguard.

Later, the American command said that dental records had conclusively identified two of the dead men as Saddam Hussein's sons. They also announced that the informant (possibly the owner of the villa in Mosul in which the brothers were killed) would receive the combined $30 million reward previously offered for their apprehension.

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division and U.S. Special Operations (Task Force 20) watch as a TOW missile strikes the side of a house occupied by Uday and Qusay Hussein in Mosul, on 22 July 2003

The U.S. Administration released graphic pictures of the Hussein brothers' bodies. When criticized, the U.S. military's response was to point out that these men were no ordinary combatants, and to express hope that confirmation of the deaths would bring closure to the Iraqi people. Uday was buried in a cemetery near Tikrit alongside Qusay and Mustapha Hussein.

That night, and several nights following Uday and Qusay Hussein's death, celebratory gunfire could be heard throughout Baghdad.

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