Uday Hussein

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Uday Hussein
Uday Hussein.png
Commander of the Fedayeen Saddam
In office
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Qusay Saddam
Personal details
Born (1964-06-18)18 June 1964
Tikrit, Iraq
Died 22 July 2003(2003-07-22) (aged 39)
Mosul, Iraq
Parents Saddam Hussein (deceased)
Sajida Talfah
Religion Sunni Islam
Military service
Allegiance Baathist Iraq
Service/branch Fedayeen Saddam
Years of service 1995-1996
Rank Commander
Battles/wars 2003 Iraq War

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 father, but lost the place as heir apparent to Qusay due to injuries sustained in an assassination attempt, 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).[1] He was several times imprisoned, exiled and received a token death sentence by his father's regime. Following the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was killed alongside his brother 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 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 from Baghdad University, ranking No. 1 in a class of 76 students. However, some of his professors have testified he barely squeezed by on many courses, mainly using his status as Saddam's son to get high marks.

Although his status as Saddam's elder son made him Saddam's prospective successor, Uday fell out of favour with his father.[2] 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, reputedly stabbing 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 furthermore feared losing succession to Gegeo, whose loyalty and fidelity to Saddam Hussein was unquestioned.[3]

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.[2] In response to personal intervention from King Hussein of Jordan,[4] 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.[5]

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.[2][6][7] 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.[8] Uday seemed proud of his reputation and called himself Abu Sarhan, an Arabic term for "wolf".[9]

Uday sustained permanent injuries during an assassination attempt in December 1996.[2] Struck by many bullets while driving,[10] Uday was initially believed to be paralyzed. Evacuated to Ibn Sina Hospital, he eventually recovered but with a noticeable limp.[2] Despite repeated operations, however, a bullet remained lodged in his spine and could not be removed due to its location near the spinal cord.[11] In the wake of Uday's subsequent disabilities, Saddam gave Qusay increasing responsibility and authority, designating him as his heir apparent in 2000.[12]

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.[13] Uday also amassed a large video collection, found in his palace in 2003, much of which featured himself in both public and private situations.[14]

Personal life[edit]

In a sign of loyalty to Saddam, Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri who was vice president of the Revolutionary Command Council, consented to marry his daughter to Uday.[15] 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, ad-Douri quickly petitioned that his daughter be permitted to divorce Uday.[16]

Allegations of crimes[edit]

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. According to widespread reports, torturers beat and caned the soles of the football players' feet—inflicting intense pain without leaving visible marks on the rest of their bodies.[citation needed] Uday reportedly kept scorecards with written instructions on how many times each player should be beaten after a poor showing.[citation needed] He would insult athletes who performed below his expectations by calling them dogs and monkeys to their faces.[17] One defector reported that jailed football players were forced to kick a concrete ball after failing to reach the 1994 FIFA World Cup finals.[18] The Iraqi national football team were seen with their heads shaved after failing to achieve a good result in a tournament in the 1980s. It was widely circulated that Uday ordered the shaving as part of the punishment.[citation needed] Another defector claimed that athletes were dragged through a gravel pit and subsequently immersed in a sewage tank to induce infection in the victims' wounds.[9] After Iraq lost, 4–1, to Japan in the quarter finals of the 2000 AFC Asian Cup in Lebanon, goalkeeper Hashim Hassan, defender Abdul Jaber and forward Qahtan Chatir were labelled as guilty of loss and eventually flogged for three days by Uday's security.[18]

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.[2][19]
  • When U.S. troops captured his mansion in Baghdad, they found a personal zoo stocked with lions and cheetahs; an underground parking garage for his collection of luxury cars; paintings glorifying him and his mother with Saddam (which was known to have infuriated his father); Cuban cigars inscribed with his name; and millions of dollars worth of fine wines, liquor and heroin.[citation needed] An HIV testing kit was also found among his personal effects.[17] He amassed millions of U.S. dollars by running façade corporations illegally trading with Iran (although, at that time, UN restrictions did not allow foreign trading.[citation needed] Only later, Iraq was allowed to import certain commodities such as food and medical supplies legally under the UN Oil For Food programme).
  • Usage of an iron maiden on persons running afoul of him.[20]
  • 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.[9]
  • Stealing approximately 1,200 luxury vehicles, including a Rolls-Royce Corniche valued at over $200,000.[citation needed] A Lamborghini LM002, given to him as a gift by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, was later blown up by U.S. forces to demonstrate the effects of a car bomb.[21]
  • Plotting, in 2000, to assassinate Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress, presumably to impress his father after Qusay was named heir apparent.[22]


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. He 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. After U.S. troops hotwired Uday's Lamborghini,[23] he revealed himself, upon which a gunfight ensued. The assault element withdrew to request backup. 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 with 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.[24]

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 owner of the villa, Nawaf az-Zeidan, who is distantly related to Saddam, was granted U.S. citizenship, and was permitted to leave Iraq. Locals claimed that Zeidan had informed United States forces that Saddam's sons were staying there, as the brothers became overbearing in their demands and took his hospitality for granted. On 18 June 2004, Zeidan's brother Salaah al-Zeidan was killed, as well as three of his male relatives (including an eight-year-old boy), who were travelling in the same vehicle.[25]

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.[26] 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. [27]

In popular culture[edit]

Uday is portrayed by Philip Arditti in House of Saddam, and by Dominic Cooper in The Devil's Double. The latter film is the life story of his alleged longtime body double, Latif Yahia, who's also written three books on his experience – I Was Saddam's Son, The Devil's Double and The Black Hole. A National Geographic Channel episode of Locked Up Abroad features Yahia's account. In Vince Flynn's Separation of Power, his behavior is described, and he is impersonated by the protagonist Mitch Rapp.

Uday is a character in Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo by Rajiv Joseph.

In The Boondocks comic strip, Riley Freeman's various nicknames include "Uday" along with "Young Reezy", "Riley Escobar" and "Osama bin Laden".

In the Office episode "Dwight K. Shrute (Acting) Manager", Dwight has a desk he says is a replica of Uday Hussein's desk.


  1. ^ Suzanne Goldenberg "Footballers who paid the penalty for failure", The Guardian, 19 April 2003
  2. ^ a b c d e f Bashir, Ala; Sunnanå, Lars Sigurd (20 June 2004). Schreuder, Liesbeth, ed. Getuigenissen van Saddams lijfarts: berichten uit een duistere, krankzinnige wereld [Testimonials from Saddam's personal physician: messages from a dark, insane world.] (in Dutch). Translated by Annemarie Smit. Het Spectrum. ISBN 978-90-71206-10-8. 
  3. ^ Miller, Judith (1990). Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-09-989860-3. 
  4. ^ Ibrahim, Youssef M. (15 August 1995). "The Vendetta That Is Jolting the House of Hussein". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Rogers, Patrick (28 August 1995). "Blood Feud in Baghdad". People. Retrieved 16 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Yaeger, Don (24 March 2003). "Son of Saddam". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 26 May 2010. 
  7. ^ "Uday's torture chamber opened". News24 (Cape Town). Associated Press. 24 July 2004. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "Saddam pounces on son's newspaper". BBC News. 20 November 2002. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  9. ^ a b c "Obituary: Uday Saddam Hussein". Fox News Channel. Associated Press. 23 July 2003. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  10. ^ Gellman, Barton (10 February 1997). "Iraq's Family Feud Leaves Bloody Trail". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  11. ^ Gellman, Barton (10 February 1997). "Iraq's Family Feud Leaves Bloody Trail". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  12. ^ Blair, David (23 July 2003). "Brothers grim: life and times of two tyrants". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 February 2014 – via The Daily Telegraph. 
  13. ^ McWilliams, Brian (11 November 2002). "Guess Who Yahoos? Saddam's Son". Wired. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "Uday's Home Movies". Newsweek. 1 June 2003. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  15. ^ "Saddam Hussein's Faithful Friend, the King of Clubs, Might Be the Key to Saving Iraq". New Republic. 24 June 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "Izzat Ibrahim: Top Saddam loyalist". BBC News. 3 January 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Goldenberg, Suzanne (23 July 2003). "Uday: career of rape, torture and murder". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 5 November 2006. 
  18. ^ a b Shaw, Karl (2004). Power Mad!: A Book Of Deranged Dictators. Michael O'Mara Books. ISBN 978-18-4317-106-5. 
  19. ^ Bennett, Brian; Weisskopf, Michael (2 June 2003). "The Sum Of Two Evils". Time. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  20. ^ Ghosh, Bobby (19 April 2003). "Iron Maiden Found in Uday Hussein's Playground". Time. Retrieved 7 February 2006. 
  21. ^ Joseph, Noah (20 March 2007). "Bombastic: US troops destroyed Insane Hussein's LM002". Autoblog.com. Retrieved 22 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "Report: Saddam Hussein's Son Plotted London Assassination Attack". Fox News Channel. 23 March 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  23. ^ Clayton Bellamy (7 May 2004). "Soldier says he hot-wired Odai Hussein's Lamborghini". AP. Retrieved 7 July 2014. 
  24. ^ "Iraq informant set for $30m reward". CNN. 23 July 2003. Retrieved 15 December 2008. 
  25. ^ "Release of photos of bodies raises ethics concerns". CNN. 25 July 2003. Retrieved 26 May 2010. 
  26. ^ Zorn, Eric (11 June 2006). "Displaying foes' dead hurts cause". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 24 February 2014. 
  27. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/8681025/Saddams-demon-seed.html

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