Uday's passions: his mom, the Net and torture

By Time of article published Apr 18, 2003

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Baghdad - Uday, Saddam Hussein's feared elder son, had several hobbies: women, cars, the Internet, jewellery, weapons, the Shi'ite branch of Islam, alcohol and especially torture.

"He would spend much of his time searching NGO websites for information on the most sophisticated forms of torture, including in Latin America, and when he couldn't read the Spanish, he would print out the pictures," one of his former aides said.

He attended torture sessions in a prison 50km south of Baghdad run by the Fedayeen paramilitary corps he headed, the source said, adding that Uday never practiced torture himself.

On one occasion however, he threw a man who owed him money out of the 14th floor window, said Uday's aide, who asked not to be named and now lives about 100km outside the Iraqi capital.

Littering the floor of Uday's sports centre inside the presidential compound among an impressive collection of fitness accessories are pages and pages printed from Internet sites on torture.

The centre, which includes a huge swimming pool, was built after the December 14, 1996 assassination attempt which left him partially paralysed. It was carried out by three Shi'ite Muslims who fled to Iran.

One of the rooms of the Khalil Fayad centre is plastered with pictures and paintings of the most respected figures of Shi'ite Islam, while in another posters of US movie star Brooke Shields and other Hollywood actresses are pinned on the walls.

Saddam Hussein and the elite of his Baath party are from the Sunni minority, but several books on the rival Shi'ite branch of Islam and one of its fundamentalist leaders, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, were found in his abandoned palace.

"Since the assassination attempt, he was fascinated by the Shi'ites and he read everything he could find about them. He thought that by learning more about them, they wouldn't try to harm him again," his aide explained.

The bombed out palaces Uday left behind him also reveal his obsession with women. Among the documents found in the sports centre: an email from a Lebanese call-girl agency announcing that the requested seven Czech women were on their way, complete with pictures and an apology for the delay.

"Contrary to what has been written, Uday was never married and he was obsessed with women. If he spotted a woman he fancied in the street or at a reception, he would send his henchmen to fetch her," said the longtime associate of Uday.

In his house, which was devastated by two US missiles, dozens of pictures of semi-nude women can be seen among the strewn furniture.

Uday's lovenest was in Jadriya, an up-market residential area packed with regime officials, or in a house at the Yacht club.

Nobody was allowed to see Uday's women.

"If one of his aides happened to catch a glimpse of one of them, he would shave his head and moustache to punish him," the source said.

Weapons were another of the maverick figure's passions. His Yacht Club pad is home to a dazzling collection of pistols, machineguns, and daggers.

"He drank a lot, especially cognac and Iraqi arak, which is very strong," his aide said. The office in Uday's compound is packed with empty boxes of alcohol. Pictures show a display cabinet in his Yacht club crumbling under the weight of bottles of vodka and other spirits.

Uday was also a collector of watches and male jewellery, as well as expensive cars. "He had no less than one hundred cars, including 20 Rolls Royces," the source said.

His entourage hated their tyrant boss.

"As soon as he saw something on the Internet, he wanted it immediately. If one of his aides explained that the object of his dreams would only be available in a few months, he would have him whipped."

The only person he loved was his mother Sajida, Saddam Hussein's first wife. He shared his house with her and his younger sister, Hala.

"After the 1996 assassination bid, Saddam Hussein had given his elder son the entire wing of the presidential compound which borders the Tigris. He (Saddam) lived in the palace near the airport or in an underground palace beneath a lake, in Amariya, south-west of the city," the aide said. - Sapa-AFP

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