Uday Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti (or Odai) (June 18, 1964 - July 22, 2003) was the eldest son of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his first wife Sajida Talfah. He was for several years seen as the likely successor of Saddam. He produced the newspaper Babel, and a youth radio channel, as well as running Iraq's perennial Olympics teams, and serving as a Member of Parliament.
Although his status as Saddam Hussein's oldest son once made him the prospective successor to his father, Uday fell out of favor with Saddam for his extravagance and recklessness. In October 1988, at a party thrown in the honor of the wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Uday beat to death one of his father's favorite servants, Kemal Hana Gegeo. Gegeo had recently introduced Saddam to a beautiful, younger woman who later became Saddam's second wife. Uday took this as an insult to his mother, Saddam's cousin and first wife. Uday carried out the murder cooly and coldly, bludgeoning Gegeo to death in front of horrified guests. President Mubarak later called Uday a "psychopath."
As punishment for his homicidal rage, Saddam briefly imprisoned Uday. As a result of personal intervention from King Hussein I of Jordan, Saddam released Uday, banishing him to Switzerland. Saddam made him the assistant to the Iraqi ambassador to Switzerland, hardly an auspicious posting. The Swiss expelled him after he threatened to stab someone in a restaurant.
The dictator later rehabilitated Uday, making him the head of the Olympic committee, and later, the head of one of Saddam's myriad security organizations. But Uday never regained his former status as his father's favored son.
On December 12, 1996 Uday was seriously injured in an assassination attempt. Hit by eight bullets while driving, he was at first thought to be paralyzed. Instead, he recovered his ability to walk, albeit with a limp. Despite surgeries, a bullet remained lodged in his spine. As a result of the attempted assassination and Uday's subsequent disabilities, Saddam gave Uday's younger brother, Qusay Hussein, more powers. In 2000, Saddam designated Qusay as his heir.
On March 17, 2003, US President George W. Bush gave Saddam Hussein and his two sons 48 hours to leave Iraq, or face war. Uday sarcastically responded to the ultimatum by demanding Bush and his family leave the United States.
Saddam and Uday Hussein (right)
- 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 soccer players' feet. The experience is intensely painful, but leaves no marks on the rest of the body. After the war, a New York Times correspondent verified that one of the torture devices in the basement of the Olympic building was an iron maiden (a sarcophagus with spikes facing inward that puncture the victim's body).
- A former member of the French foreign ministry claimed that Uday and his bodyguards had forced their way into the hotel room of a French couple and forced them at gunpoint to perform sex acts so that Uday could video tape them for later re-viewing.
- A former Uday look-alike who had served in the past as a body double, now living in the West, claimed that Uday is unable to perform sexually without causing pain and drawing blood from his sexual partners. The double said that Uday had committed numerous rapes on women, including on a visiting Russian ballerina.
- Uday has purchased or stolen ~1200 luxury automobiles, including a Rolls-Royce Corniche valued at over $200,000. Uday is reported to have arrived at a polling station during a referendum on his father's regime in a pink Rolls-Royce.
- Uday feeding victims into a wood-chipping machine, or throwing them into an acid vat.
- Uday kidnapping young, attractive Iraqi women from the streets in order to rape them. Judith Miller, a senior reporter for the New York Times, said that if the woman showed a "peep of protest," then the woman's family would receive her body parts back in a box, courtesy of Uday.
The praise for Uday's and Qusay's deaths was not universal, however, with a correspondent for Al-Jazeera calling the demise of the brothers a "crime" carried out "in cold blood."
On July 23, 2003 the American command said that it had conclusively identified two of the dead men as Saddam Hussein's sons, using dental records. They also announced that the informant, possibly the owner of the house, would receive the combined $30 million award on the pair.
On July 24, 2003 pictures of the killed brothers were released to the press (). The U.S. military command stated that photos of brothers were released to combat widespread rumors in Iraq that the brothers are still alive and the whole episode is a hoax.
In releasing the photos of the dead brothers, some criticized the U.S. for creating a double standard, given that the Bush Administration condemned Saddam Hussein for releasing photos of American dead during the conflict. The U.S. military answered these criticisms by pointing out that these men were no ordinary dead combatants, and that confirmation of the deaths would bring "closure" to the Iraqi people.