| Qusay (left) and Uday Hussein
Baghdad, July 22 (Reuters): Saddam Hussein’s two sons, Uday and Qusay, helped to spread the Iraqi dictator’s reign of terror and keep his grip on power for nearly 30 years.
US officials claimed today both were killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul after a battle with American forces at a villa.
An official in Washington said two bodies bore “a strong resemblance to Uday and Qusay”.
Eldest son Uday, 39, had a penchant for fast cars, cowboy boots and murder but fell from favour after beating to death a family servant. He still looked set to inherit his father’s mantle until he was shot and badly wounded in an assassination attempt in 1996.
Even in the family inner circle, he was regarded as a loose cannon, who had a reputation for brutality and killed several men with his own hands.
After US and British forces ousted his father this year, Uday and his younger brother, Qusay, vanished, apparently going underground inside Iraq.
During Saddam’s brutal rule, Uday wielded power and spread terror far beyond his modest titles as chairman of the Iraqi Olympic Committee and head of the Iraqi Football Association. He was chairman of the Journalists’ Union and owned the most influential newspaper, Babel, and ran the popular Shebab television channel.
He married a teenage daughter of Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, one of Saddam’s half-brothers, but sent her home later.
His former father-in-law said in 2000 that Uday was “greedy and unfit for power”.
His rivalry with Saddam’s son-in-law Lt Gen. Hussein Hassan Kamel who was mastermind of a secret weapons procurement programme led to Kamel’s flight to Jordan in August 1995.
Kamel and his brother, also married to a Saddam daughter, took flight when Uday shot and wounded another half-brother of the president, Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan.
Uday met the penitent Kamel on the Iraqi border seven months later when he returned. He was said to have slapped Kamel and taken him and his brother away in his car while his two sisters and their children continued to Baghdad.
Within three days, Kamel, his brother and father had been shot dead. In early 2000, Kamel’s mother was murdered in her Baghdad house.
Although never official, Saddam’s ruthless younger son Qusay was expected to take over from his father.
Born in 1966, Qusay kept a lower profile and was considered shier than the flamboyant Uday. But after his brother was wounded, he took command of key parts of the military and Iraq’s feared security apparatus.
Qusay controlled the elite Republican Guards, the intelligence services and a special force providing security for Saddam.
Qusay always wore civilian suits and respectfully bowed and kissed his father’s hand when they appeared in public. He said little in leadership or military meetings, dutifully listening to Saddam’s every word and taking notes.
Like his father, diplomats say Qusay was ruthless in dealing with opponents, putting down disturbances in 1998 and sending dissidents to their deaths.
“Uday was loud and vulgar while Qusay was quiet and calculating,” the mother of a classmate of the pair was reported as saying in Palestinian author Said Aburish’s biography, Saddam Hussein — The Politics of Revenge.