Uday Hussein

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Uday Hussein
[1]عُدي صدام المجيد
Uday Saddam Hussein.png
Commander of the Fedayeen Saddam
In office
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byQusay Hussein
Personal details
Born(1964-06-18)18 June 1964
Tikrit, Iraq
Died22 July 2003(2003-07-22) (aged 39)
Mosul, Iraq
Cause of deathBallistic trauma
Height1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)
ParentsSaddam Hussein (deceased)
Sajida Talfah
RelativesQusay Hussein (brother, deceased)

Raghad Hussein (sister)

Rana Hussein (sister)

Hala Hussein (sister)

Adnan Khairallah (Maternal uncle, deceased)
Military service
Allegiance Baathist Iraq
Branch/serviceFedayeen Saddam
Years of service1988–2003
Battles/wars2003 Iraq War

Uday Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti (Arabic: عدي صدام حسين التكريتي‎; c. 1964 - 22 July 2003) was the eldest child of Saddam Hussein by his first wife, Sajida Talfah, and the brother of Qusay Hussein. Uday was seen for several years as the likely successor to his father, but lost the place as heir apparent to Qusay due to injuries he sustained in an assassination attempt.

Witness allegations have suggested that Uday was guilty of rape, murder, and torture,[2] including the arrest and torture of Iraqi Olympic athletes and members of the national football team whenever they lost a match.[3]

Following the United States-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, he was killed alongside his brother Qusay and nephew Mustapha by an American task force after a prolonged gunfight in Mosul.


Uday Hussein was born around 1964 in Tikrit to Saddam Hussein and Sajida Talfah while his father was in prison. Multiple sources give different birthdays; although official sources give a 18 June birth, The Independent gave a birth date of 9 March 1964, while others give a 1965 birth. One source gave it as early as 1963.[4][5][6] As a child, his father would take him and his brother Qusay to watch executions of enemies.

Although his status as Saddam's elder son made him Saddam's prospective successor, Uday fell out of favour with his father.[7] In October 1988, at a party in honour of Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Uday murdered his father's personal valet and food taster, Kamel Hana Gegeo, possibly at the request of his mother. Before an assemblage of horrified guests, an intoxicated Uday bludgeoned Gegeo and repeatedly stabbed him with an electric carving knife. Gegeo had recently introduced Saddam to a younger woman, Samira Shahbandar, who later became Saddam's second wife. Uday considered his father's relationship with Shahbandar an insult to his mother. He also may have feared losing succession to Gegeo, whose loyalty to Saddam Hussein was unquestioned.[8]

As punishment for the murder, Saddam briefly imprisoned his son and sentenced him to death; however, Uday probably served only three months in a prison in a private area.[7] In response to personal intervention from King Hussein of Jordan,[9] Saddam released Uday, banishing him to Switzerland as the assistant to the Iraqi ambassador there. He was expelled by the Swiss government in 1990 after he was repeatedly arrested for fighting. According to Jalopnik website, Uday's vast car collections were burned by his father, Saddam, after the Kamel Hana Gegeo incident.[10][11]

Saddam later appointed Uday chairman of the Iraqi Olympic Committee and the Iraq Football Association. In the former role, he tortured athletes who failed to win.[7][12][13] Furthermore, he founded his own sports club called Al-Rasheed and signed all the best players from the country to play for the club as they went on to dominate Iraqi football until their dissolving in 1990. He also became the editor of the Babel newspaper, the general secretary of the Iraqi Union of Students and the head of the Fedayeen Saddam.[14] Uday seemed proud of his reputation and called himself Abu Sarhan, an Arabic term for "wolf".[15]

Uday sustained permanent injuries during an assassination attempt in December 1996.[7] Struck by between 7 and 13 bullets while driving in Mansour (Bagdad),[16] Uday was initially believed to be paralyzed. Evacuated to Ibn Sina Hospital, he eventually recovered but with a noticeable limp.[7] Despite repeated operations, two bullets remained lodged in his spine and could not be removed due to their location near the spinal cord.[17] In the wake of Uday's subsequent disabilities, Saddam gave Qusay increasing responsibility and authority, designating him as his heir apparent in 2000.[18]

Uday opened accounts with Yahoo! and MSN Messenger, which created controversy as this allegedly violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iraq.[19] Uday also amassed a large video collection, found in his palace in 2003, much of which featured himself in both public and private situations.[20]

Personal life

A family portrait of Saddam Hussein's family. Uday is seen standing in the middle.

Uday, the most headstrong among the Hussein children was also perceivedly the most flamboyant. Erratic by nature, he displayed utter ruthlessness towards adversaries and those perceived as threats to his power. He grew up idolizing his father, Saddam Hussein, although their relationship later became strained due to his father's many mistresses. Uday maintained a close cordial relationship with his mother, Sajida Talfah. The otherwise apathetic Uday, at his uncle's Adnan Khairallah's funeral in 1989, showed a rare moment of tenderness.

Neglect and lack of bonding with Saddam in childhood, over-exposure to the regime's brutalities, and Sajida's over-nurturing molded his character. After being handicapped by the assassination attempt on him in 1996, he maintained distance from Qusay who was rising in ranks and thought to be Saddam's next legitimate successor. Along with many other crimes, he along with Qusay in 1996, was said to be involved in the killings of their brothers-in-law, Hussein Kamel al-Majid and Saddam Kamel al-Majid who themselves were powerful members of the elite regime. The two men, who had defected to Jordan along with their wives and children, were murdered after their return to Iraq.[21]

In a sign of loyalty to Saddam, the vice president of the Revolutionary Command Council Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri consented to marry his daughter to Uday.[22] However, al-Douri's influence with Hussein was so substantial that he was able to levy a condition: that the union would not be consummated. Because of Uday's violent and erratic behavior, al-Douri quickly petitioned that his daughter be permitted to divorce Uday.[23] Uday reportedly had no children from his marriage.[24]

Uday was reported to have converted to Shia Islam in 2001,[25] but he denied these reports.[26]

Allegations of crimes

A report released on 20 March 2003, one day after the American led invasion of Iraq, by ABC News detailed several allegations against Uday:

  • 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. He would insult athletes who performed below his expectations by calling them dogs and monkeys to their faces.[27] One defector reported that imprisoned football players were forced to kick a concrete ball after failing to reach the 1994 FIFA World Cup finals.[28] The Iraqi national football team were seen with their heads shaved after failing to achieve a good result in a tournament in the 1980s. Another defector claimed that athletes were dragged through a gravel pit and then immersed in a sewage tank to induce infection in their wounds.[15] After Iraq lost 4–1 to Japan in the quarter finals of the 2000 AFC Asian Cup in Lebanon, goalkeeper Hashim Khamis Hassan, defender Abdul-Jabar Hashim Hanoon and forward Qahtan Chathir Drain were labelled as guilty of loss and eventually flogged for three days by Uday's security.[28]

Other allegations include:

  • Uday was known to intrude on parties and otherwise "discover" women whom he would later rape. Time published an article in 2003 detailing his sexual brutality.[7][24]
  • Usage of an iron maiden on persons who fell foul of him.[29]
  • Beating an army officer unconscious when the man refused to allow Uday to dance with his wife; the man later died of his injuries. Uday also shot and killed an army officer who did not salute him.[15]
  • Stealing approximately 1,200 luxury vehicles, including a Rolls-Royce Corniche valued at over $200,000.[citation needed]
  • Plotting, in 2000, to assassinate Ahmed Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress. This was done shortly after Saddam named his younger son, Qusay, heir-apparent to the dictatorship. Uday allegedly intended to curry favour with his father through the assassination.[30]


House of Uday and Qusay in Mosul, Iraq destroyed by U.S. forces, 31 July 2003

On 22 July 2003, JSOC Task Force 20, aided by troops of the United States Army 101st Airborne Division, surrounded Uday, Qusay, and Qusay's 14-year-old son Mustapha during a raid on a home in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Uday had been the Ace of Hearts on the most-wanted Iraqi playing cards (Qusay was the Ace of Clubs). Acting on a tip from an unidentified Iraqi, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division provided security while the Task Force 20 operators tried to capture the inhabitants of the house. As many as 200 American troops, later aided by OH-58 Kiowa helicopters and an A-10 "Warthog", surrounded and fired upon the house, thus killing Uday, Qusay, and Qusay's son. After approximately four hours of battle, soldiers entered the house and found four bodies, including the Hussein brothers' bodyguard.

Later, the American command said that dental records had conclusively identified two of the dead men as Saddam Hussein's sons. They also announced that the informant (possibly the owner of the villa in Mosul in which the brothers were killed) would receive the combined $30 million reward previously offered for their apprehension.[31]

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division and U.S. Special Operations (Task Force 20) watch as a TOW missile strikes the side of a house occupied by Uday and Qusay Hussein in Mosul, on 22 July 2003

The U.S. Administration released graphic pictures of the Hussein brothers' bodies. Afterwards, their bodies were reconstructed by morticians to assure the public that they were deceased. For example, Uday's beard was trimmed and an 8-inch metal bar in his leg from the 1996 assassination attempt was removed.[32] When criticized, the U.S. military's response was to point out that these men were no ordinary combatants, and to express hope that confirmation of the deaths would bring closure to the Iraqi people.[33] Uday was buried in a cemetery near Tikrit alongside Qusay and Mustapha Hussein.

That night, and several nights following Uday and Qusay Hussein's deaths, celebratory gunfire could be heard throughout Baghdad.[34]

In film, television, and theater

Philip Arditti played Uday in the miniseries House of Saddam. He was portrayed by Dominic Cooper in The Devil’s Double. Hrach Titizian played him in the play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo


  1. ^ "بالصور-لاول-مرة-الكشف-عن-وثائق-شخصية-ل".
  2. ^ Harris, Paul; Heslop, Katy (16 March 2003). "Iraq's dirty dozen". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
  3. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne (19 April 2003). "Footballers who paid the penalty for failure". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b c d e f Bashir, Ala; Sunnanå, Lars Sigurd (20 June 2004). Schreuder, Liesbeth (ed.). Getuigenissen van Saddams lijfarts: berichten uit een duistere, krankzinnige wereld [Testimonials from Saddam's personal physician: messages from a dark, insane world.] (in Dutch). Translated by Annemarie Smit. Het Spectrum. ISBN 978-90-71206-10-8.
  8. ^ Miller, Judith (1990). Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-09-989860-3.
  9. ^ Ibrahim, Youssef M. (15 August 1995). "The Vendetta That Is Jolting the House of Hussein". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  10. ^ Westbrook, Justin T. (1 June 2017). "Saddam Hussein Once Burned His Son's Luxury Cars As Punishment For Killing People". Jalopnik. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  11. ^ Rogers, Patrick (28 August 1995). "Blood Feud in Baghdad". People. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  12. ^ Yaeger, Don (24 March 2003). "Son of Saddam". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Uday's torture chamber opened". News24. Cape Town. Associated Press. 24 July 2004. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  14. ^ "Saddam pounces on son's newspaper". BBC News. 20 November 2002. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  15. ^ a b c "Obituary: Uday Saddam Hussein". Fox News Channel. Associated Press. 23 July 2003. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  16. ^ Gellman, Barton (10 February 1997). "Iraq's Family Feud Leaves Bloody Trail". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  17. ^ Gellman, Barton (10 February 1997). "Iraq's Family Feud Leaves Bloody Trail". The Washington Post. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  18. ^ Blair, David (23 July 2003). "Brothers grim: life and times of two tyrants". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 February 2014 – via The Daily Telegraph.
  19. ^ McWilliams, Brian (11 November 2002). "Guess Who Yahoos? Saddam's Son". Wired. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  20. ^ "Uday's Home Movies". Newsweek. 1 June 2003. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
  21. ^ "Uday Hussein". The Daily Telegraph. 23 July 2003. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  22. ^ Knights, Michael (24 June 2014). "Saddam Hussein's Faithful Friend, the King of Clubs, Might Be the Key to Saving Iraq". New Republic. Retrieved 8 April 2015.
  23. ^ "Izzat Ibrahim: Top Saddam loyalist". BBC News. 3 January 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  24. ^ a b Bennett, Brian; Weisskopf, Michael (2 June 2003). "The Sum Of Two Evils". Time. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  25. ^ "Saddam's son 'becomes Shia'". 30 July 2001. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  26. ^ "Uday Hussein denies conversion". 2 August 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  27. ^ Goldenberg, Suzanne (23 July 2003). "Uday: career of rape, torture and murder". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 5 November 2006.
  28. ^ a b Shaw, Karl (2004). Power Mad!: A Book Of Deranged Dictators. Michael O'Mara Books. ISBN 978-1-84317-106-5.
  29. ^ Ghosh, Bobby (19 April 2003). "Iron Maiden Found in Uday Hussein's Playground". Time. Retrieved 7 February 2006.
  30. ^ "Report: Saddam Hussein's Son Plotted London Assassination Attack". Fox News Channel. 23 March 2008. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  31. ^ "Iraq informant set for $30m reward". CNN. 23 July 2003. Retrieved 15 December 2008.
  32. ^ "Media films Saddam sons". 25 July 2003 – via
  33. ^ Zorn, Eric (11 June 2006). "Displaying foes' dead hurts cause". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  34. ^ Freeman, Colin (6 August 2011). "Saddam's demon seed".
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