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How Bad Was Saddam's Son?

Latif Yahia, ex-double of Saddam Hussein's now deceased eldest son Uday. The 39-year-old wealthy Iraqi fled Iraq in 1991 after surviving assassination attempts while impersonating Uday Hussein and then being tortured by the dictator's son. He was witness to scores of rapes and murders. PHOTO EDIT INTERNATIONAL/ REUTERS

(See Video Below)

By Ron Laytner
Copyright 2012
Edit International

Saddam Hussein was hanged in 2006 but shocking details of the former Iraqi dictator’s reign of terror are still coming to light.

Only by living as one of Saddam’s sons can you truly understand the full evil of the Hussein regime.

So says the former body double of Uday Hussein, Saddam’s eldest son and heir.

Iraqi prosecutors charged Saddam Hussein with 147 murders in a Shiite village in 1982 following an assassination attempt on his life. They wanted to keep charges simple and hang him quickly. But others want the full extent of his crimes brought out.

Almost everyone tortured or raped is dead. Many who helped in the crimes and weren't caught are fighting now as insurgents.

The one man who really knows what happened in Saddam's day to day life is Latif Yahia who served as body double for Saddam's son, Uday. He was not called as a witness at Saddam’s trial. Here is what he would have said.

Latif Yahia had been a school classmate of the dictator’s son and looked like his twin brother. He thought he’d been forgotten. but a few years later Yahia, then an
Iraqi officer serving in the Iran-Iraq war, was suddenly summoned home to Uday’s palace in Baghdad.

In strode Uday Saddam Hussein. “I want you to be me,” the President’s son declared, “Everywhere, always. You will be my fidai, my double.”

“You will be the son of the president under my direction. You’ll have the most beautiful life on earth. Everything that’s mine will also be yours. You’re going to be my brother.”

Latif politely declined. He could not accept the task. It would be too much for him.

“What? You don’t want to be the son of Saddam Hussein,” Uday screamed. Two bodyguards seized Latif and dragged him from the room. He was blindfolded and
thrown into a car.

Latif was locked inside a psycho-torture cell. The walls, floors and lights were bright red. The cell was too small to lie down in or stand up leaving him to squat. There was no toilet or even a bucket for waste and eventually Latif was forced to lie in his own filth.

After seven days Uday came by. “Latif. How are you? You’ve changed your mind haven’t you? I’ll sic my dogs on you and have your sisters raped if you refuse again.”

Latif gave in and became Uday’s double in November of 1987.

The Iraqi dictator had several doubles. Whenever Saddam Hussein felt danger he had a double stand in. One had already been assassinated in 1984, but he had several left.

Doubles were chosen from the Hussein family, usually a cousin closely resembling the dictator. But none looked like Uday. That’s when Uday remembered his old classmate who did.

Latif Yahia was cleaned up and taken directly to Uday’s palace on the Tigris River and placed in Uday’s own room. “Uday wants it this way,” said an Iraqi Intelligence
officer. “You are now his brother.”

Recalls Latif, “They brought clean clothes daily and the best food I’ve ever eaten. The servants had to treat me as the president’s son. I felt powerful. I began to like this life.”

Latif’s first lesson was to learn how to not react in disgust or become sick at Hussein regime cruelty. He was taken to a viewing room holding thousands of videos of torture sessions.

Saddam’s son had learned the same way. “Uday told me whenever he seemed weak or squeamish as a child his father would beat him with an iron bar and then force
him to watch videos of prisoners being tortured.”

It worked. “Just wait until I become president,” Uday promised, “I’ll be crueler than my father ever was. You mark my words. You’ll yearn for the days of Saddam

Yahia saw victims have their hands and feet drilled through with electric drills. He watched people suspected of bad mouthing the regime have their mouths pulled
apart until their jaws broke. He was forced to witness the torture of families: men forced to rape their wives in front of their horrified young children and saw a video of
parents screaming helplessly behind a glass wall in which they could see their naked children in a room with a bee hive, being stung hundreds of times.

Next Latif watched Uday open Olympic style games in honor of the Iraqi dictator, inspect entire Iraqi army battalions, sit at the head of parades in honor of his own birthday and wine and dine foreign diplomats and Arab leaders at million dollar dinners.

“I studied from nine in the morning to Muslim evening prayers, practicing how Uday Hussein sat, held his cigar, everything. In time I could predict how he would act
and move. Uday never looked anyone in the eye, never shook anyone’s hand, and greeted everyone arrogantly.”

One day a pair of foreign doctors with Slavic accents showed up at the palace. “They tested every inch of my body to see if it matched Uday and were pleased. “My skin coloring was 99 percent similar to Uday’s. Shape of face, hair, ears, nose, build, all were almost identical. I was only one inch shorter than Uday and about four pounds lighter.” But that was no problem. I was to wear lifts in his shoes.

“Our voices were also almost exactly alike, but the doctors said I would need surgery to get Uday’s lisp.” The next day Latif Yahia’s teeth were ground down and implants screwed in. “They asked me to say something and it was utterly bizarre. I was lisping.”

Ismail al-Azami, Uday’s private hair dresser, spent hours sculpting Latif’s hair to match Uday Hussein’s. Yassem Al-Helou, Uday’s fashion advisor helped Latif choose
from amongst Uday’s thousands of Italian suits, Swiss watches, and Italian shoes. Uday changed suits four times a day.

Latif visited Uday’s garage of luxury sports cars. “Not one cost less than $100,000 US dollars. He had more than a hundred Maseratis, Ferraris, Porsches, Jaguars,

Mercedes in all models and colors.”

Uday even enacted a law prohibiting Ferrari imports so he would be the only person in Iraq to own one. Extravagant Uday had a paint shop behind his Palace Garage
and each day had cars painted to match the color of his suit.

Uday always drove himself. Says Latif, “I learned to drive like Uday, at 100 miles an hour within a line of sports cars constantly switching positions. Potential attackers
could never be sure which car was Uday’s.”

Latif learned how to leave a building. “Uday’s bodyguards would crowd around and run him to the open door of his car.”

When double training was finished, there was one final test. Latif was summoned to meet Saddam Hussein himself. “My walk to the President would decide my fate. If
he rejected me, I was a dead man.”

The Iraqi dictator circled Latif Yahia observing every feature and gesture. “Saddam smiled, spread his arms and exclaimed – ‘Yes, it’s you. Allah gave me two sons
and you’re the third!’”

Says Latif, “Nothing about Saddam in person appeared cruel, cold or repulsive. He was a man with strong charisma captivating everyone. Now I was a member of his
Clan. I would learn secrets hidden from millions. I was Saddam Hussein’s third son, just as he said.”

But not once in all his training was there time off to be himself. “My parents hadn’t heard from me in six months. I could have fallen on the battlefield or been taken
prisoner by the Iranians.”

Every day Latif had to be Uday Hussein, and Uday was a monster. “I witnessed horrific crimes and began to hate the man whose double I had become. Uday was a

brutal rapist with an obsession for beautiful women.”

Every day Uday Hussein and his bodyguards drove around the university and the girls’ schools until the president's son saw a girl he fancied. He would stop her and
ask her to spend the night with him. If she refused his bodyguards would grab her and bring her back to the palace.

There Uday would rape the girl. If she resisted, after he was done, he would give her to the whole team of bodyguards. If she was really a lot of trouble, like one architectural student named Nahle Sabet who had the nerve to publicly reject him, Uday would throw her naked to his pack of wild dogs which ripped her to pieces while he watched, drinking champagne and laughing.

No woman was safe. One day Uday saw two newlyweds walking hand in hand. He wanted the woman and his bodyguards grabbed the couple.

Saad Abd al-Razzek Nihaya was an Iraqi army officer decorated for bravery in the Iran-Iraq War but that didn’t help him or his new wife.

Uday took the girl to a hotel suite. She pleaded with him not to defile her - she had only been married yesterday. Uday beat her until she was bloody then raped her.

“The president’s son emerged from the bedroom grinning after having satisfied himself,” recalls Latif.

“Suddenly we heard a long, piercing scream then silence. The girl had jumped from the seventh floor.” Her officer husband was soon sentenced to death for ‘insulting the president.’”

Once near a Nineveh hotel Uday saw a pretty young girl no older than fifteen. He found her attractive and had her kidnapped. Uday raped the girl who lay silently and
then let her go, bruised and bleeding to stumble back to the hotel to find her parents.

“It turns out the girl had been deaf since birth,” remembers Latif. “She tried desperately to communicate what had happened to guests in the hotel lobby, but couldn’t make her hysterical, silent crying be understood.”

When Uday’s was informed he commanded his bodyguards to grab her again so she wouldn’t make trouble for him. They took her to the nearby forest and gang raped her before killing her and burying the body.

Uday’s always slept with the winner of the Miss Iraq contest. But when attractive student Ilham Ali Al-azami won she turned him down. Uday abducted Miss Iraq to his palace. He raped her over and over again and then as punishment for her defiance allowed all his bodyguards to rape her for an entire week. Then Uday circulated a rumor that the girl was a slut and let her go.

The girl’s father, a devote Muslim, was so ashamed he killed his own daughter. When the aging father appeared at Uday’s
palace Uday had the old man shot.

Uday learned rape and murder from his father. “We once came upon Saddam Hussein's men in black Mercedes limousines chasing two young women. They hit them and drove over the girls a few times. Then they dragged the bodies to the Tigris River. When Uday asked the men what was going on he came back grinning and told me, ‘Whores of my father,’”

Reveals Latif Yahia, “Saddam’s family, the Tikriti clan, were a bunch of criminals. When Saddam came to power it was like the mafia taking control of a country. Iraq really became Tikriti Iraq just like Arabia became Saudi Arabia.”

But Iraq wasn’t enough. Saddam Hussein next turned to Kuwait. Uday divided his men into three teams: The Car Team would take every Mercedes and BMW left in Kuwait. The Property Team would empty houses abandoned by Kuwaitis. The Electronics Team would gather valuable electronics.

Yahia directed the Car Team and auctioned them off in Iraq, raising $125 million USD in cash for Uday. But the plunder of Kuwait created an international outcry. Uday Hussein was mentioned by name and his reputation suffered.

One of Uday’s intelligence officers suggested why not blame Latif? He was forced to make a televised confession. The Iraqi TV newscaster said Latif Yahia had been sentenced to death and would be executed in the next few days.

It was a sham. He was kept alive to continue as double. “Until now my family and friends thought I had disappeared. With my confession I became both disgraced and officially dead. I could never have a life in Iraq. I would have to escape.”

But then the first Gulf War began. The real Uday Hussein fled to Switzerland while Latif risked assassination in his place. For much of the war the double hid from Allied bombing in the famous bunkers of Saddam Hussein.

After Iraqi troops withdrew from Kuwait, fighting began at home. Kurds and Shiite Muslims tried to overthrow the dictator. The Hussein regime hunted them down and killed thousands.

One day Uday brought Latif and others to a meeting with Saddam Hussein at his bombed personal palace. Seeing the damage up close so enraged Saddam he ordered his men to bring him prisoners.

Troops quickly returned with thirty captured Kurdish rebels. “Saddam shot each one at close range. He emptied clip after clip,” says Yahia. “Then he demanded another sixty men and killed them too. Finally he laughed and said he felt better.”

During the rebellion Latif Yahia was posing as Uday and visiting troops fighting rebels in Basra when his convoy came under attack. “The armored windshield of my car
burst into a thousand pieces,” he remembers, “then I was hit by grenade fragments.”

Doctors told him they could save his legs and arms but his right pinky finger would have to be amputated. Uday Hussein burst into the hospital the next day after returning from Switzerland.

He lined up the hospital staff, “If you don’t save his finger I will kill you all.” Uday knew if his double lost a finger he would have to have a finger cut off too.

The finger was saved and Latif returned to a shattered Baghdad. “Hundreds of thousands had no way to feed their families. But Uday didn’t care. He continued to party openly, without shame.”

Uday threw a multi-million dollar extravaganza on his birthday. A thousand dined on lobster and delicacies. Hundreds of beautiful girls were invited. At one point Uday shouted, “Rip the whores’ clothes off!” His friends shredded the womens’ clothing and the party turned into a massive orgy.

The next day Uday summoned Latif and screamed, “Why are you sneaking around after my girlfriend?” Latif was stunned. He never approached Uday’s women.

The story was just a pretense. “I can tell you despise me, that you want to get away. I am going to have to educate you again.”

The double was imprisoned at the al-Radvania secret police barracks, kept in a tiny cell open to the sun and 120 degree heat and given no water for days. Torturers worked over Latif for hours every day. Needles were driven under his nails. He was whipped with electrical cable.

Yahia’s back became badly infected, he was starved and delirious. After 27 days Uday appeared. “How did you like your education?” Would you like a few more weeks?” Latif was completely broken at this point and begged for mercy.

Next, Uday ordered all hair removed from Latif’s body, a torture worse than death for religious Muslims. Then they dumped Latif in front of the home of his parents who
thought he’d been executed years before. “I crawled to the house. My mother didn’t recognize the horrible creature. When I told her who I was she almost went crazy from shock.”

At a private clinic doctors managed to heal Latif’s infection and many broken bones. “I had my family visit only at night and for their own safety never told them
anything about the last five years.”

Yahia sent a secret appeal to the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Kurds smuggled him out of Baghdad to northern Iraq and then up into Turkey. There Latif requested asylum at an American military base after showing pictures of himself with Uday Hussein. US Army Colonel John Nab realized Yahia’s intelligence potential. Latif was interrogated by the CIA which confiscated everything he’d smuggled out of Iraq.

He was offered American citizenship, but instead chose to join part of his wealthy family living in Austria. On March 9, 1992 Latif Yahia landed at Vienna’s Shwechat Airport believing he was free.

An international rescue agency smuggled out Latif’s wife Bushra and daughter Tamra. The Iraqi set up successful businesses with part of his family’s large fortune in foreign bank accounts.

But when Latif Yahia wrote a book called “I Was Saddam’s Son” the Saddam regime retaliated. Relatives were imprisoned in Baghdad. Iraqi intelligence threatened his business clients.

Then came the offer Saddam Hussein gave his own son in law who defected, returned and was executed. “Come back to Iraq and all will be forgiven. We want you to come home.”

Yahia refused but one day found a note from his wife telling him she couldn’t take it any more. Bushra had taken Tamara and their new baby daughter and returned to Iraq. They were never heard from again.

Latif Yahia survived four assassination attempts after leaving Iraq. Once, in Austria, Iraqi agents crashed a truck into a phone booth in which he was standing. For
years he secretly ran his businesses around the world - always on the move.

With the death of the man he was forced to emulate and the execution of the Iraqi dictator, Yahia finally has hope for a different life.

But only for himself, not for Iraq. He has little hope for democracy in his country.

"Whoever will take over after when the politicking is done will be just as cruel and evil. That is and always will be the way it is in Iraq.”

– The End –
By Ron Laytner
Copyright 2011
Edit International


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