The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Double cover for Saddam

Berlin, Sept. 27 (Reuters): A German television network said yesterday it had made a scientific study of 450 photographs of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and concluded there are at least three doubles posing as the Iraqi President.

The ZDF public television network, working with a German coroner, said it took the photographs and film clips of Saddam which it had in its archives and used facial recognition technology to determine that men said to be him were lookalikes.

“In the film sequences since 1998 only the doubles appear,” said Dieter Buhmann, a Homburg coroner.

“He himself has not been seen again.”

But in the programme, ZDF said that the original Saddam re-appeared on Iraq television on Saturday.

It also quoted what it said was a former Iraq intelligence official describing how he had recruited doubles for Saddam.

“It was a practice started for security reasons because Saddam travelled a lot at the time and had contact with the public,” said the former intelligence official, now living abroad in opposition.

ZDF said in the programme, and on its website (, that “a scientific investigation proved the 65-year-old ruler allows at least three doubles to replace him at official appearances”.

ZDF said it was difficult to tell which were the doubles and which was the real Saddam Hussein.

Minor details such as the size of the ears, hands and shape of the shoulders gave the lookalikes away, ZDF said.

“They have apparently undergone surgery to appear to look like the statesman,” ZDF said.

“The doubles have mastered Saddam’s gestures and perfectly mimic Saddam, with only tiny details separating them from the real Saddam Hussein.”

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