- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2003

BAGHDAD — Curiously untouched in the frenzy of looting at homes and palaces of Saddam Hussein and his family last month were several boxes of highly personal family photos, providing a candid look at the private lives of Iraq’s deposed first family.The photographs — many professional, some amateur — were found stacked in a corner of an ornate home near the Republican Palace that had been occupied by Saddam’s eldest son, Uday. Most were framed in rough wood with hammered nails; some were blown up to the size of movie posters.They show a family frequently posed but rarely comfortable. Compared with the shelves of liquor and mountains of gift-set crystal and porcelain that remained in the house, the dust on the pictures was thick enough to gag on.One of the most striking aspects of the photographs is the miserable endurance painted on the face of Saddam’s wife of 44 years, Sajida.Once described by an American tabloid magazine as “the Baghdad blonde [who uses] evil cunning to keep her man in line,” the wife of the infamously unfaithful dictator almost never looks happy — or even particularly aware of her surroundings.Promised to Saddam, her second cousin, at age 5, she did not meet him until shortly before their marriage. She trained to be teacher, but hasn’t worked in a classroom since her marriage. Judging from scant public information and the few candid images, it has not been a happy time.Sajida Hussein, described as a compulsive shopper with European tastes and a dictator’s budget, is said to be in Syria now, but no one really knows. Damascus has denied the rumors.Saddam was, by all accounts, neither a loving husband nor a nurturing father.The couple’s two sons, Uday and Qusai, were taken at early ages to the concrete chambers deep within the state intelligence department to witness beatings, murders and the kind of slow, practiced torture that would pry loose the deepest secrets and warp the drives of young men who already knew they would lead lives of unchecked privilege and power.Both men have been linked to numerous women and countless scandals. Their adult lives have been marked by voracious appetites and limitless cruelty.Uday Hussein, 39, loved big cats and maintained a private zoo at a second residence nearby. He fancied himself “abu sarhan,” Arabic slang for wolf. One of the most hated and feared men after his father, Uday was partially paralyzed in an assassination attempt a few years ago.The elder son took on more public responsibilities in the family business that was Iraq. These included managing government-controlled newspapers and Youth TV, heading Iraq’s Olympic committee and assuming a parliamentary seat.A playboy despite the assassination-attempt wounds, Uday was frequently accompanied by beautiful women, and his reputation as a rapist was widely reported. His cruelty was unmatched, even by his younger brother.Uday appears to have been a passionate fisherman, as well. In an uncharacteristically happy holiday snapshot, he and Qusai stand tanned and joyful on a pier with their catch — or rather on their catch.Little is known about Saddam and Sajida’s three daughters — Raghad, Rana and Hala. A family portrait, shot for an unknown occasion, must predate 1995 because that is the year Raghad and Rana’s husbands defected to Jordan, where their families later joined them.While there, the two men briefed Western intelligence and U.N. inspectors on Iraq’s military programs and chemical weapons. Saddam lured them home a year later with a promise not to harm them, but the two men were quickly assassinated. Uday is believed to have ordered the killings.


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