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23/07/03 - News and city section

Wild celebrations in Baghdad
By Colin Freeman in Baghdad, Evening Standard

Baghdad's curfew was broken by the crackle of gunfire as word spread last night that Saddam's hated sons had been killed.

"It's a celebration, people have heard about what happened," a US military spokesman said.

On the streets, many Iraqis were prepared to speak out for the first time about Uday and Qusay. But while some celebrated their deaths, others wished they had been captured alive.

Alaa Hamed, regularly beaten with clubs while he worked as a producer for Uday's television station, said: "I don't want him dead. I want to torture him first."

Shopkeeper Abu Muhammed said: "This is very good news. Uday, Qusay, and Saddam are the ones who ruined this country."

The psychotic playboy

The first-born son, Uday should have been groomed to take over his father's mantle, but his psychotic behaviour prompted Saddam to begin grooming the Qusay instead.

Uday's main interest was girls, the younger the better. He used his family's influence to prey on thousands of young women, running a network of pimps to search out the prettiest for him.

The pimps were terrified of Uday. One, Ali Hussein Ali, 40, had his right arm chopped off below the elbow after failing to "deliver the goods" to his master.

Girls who rejected his advances - some as young as 14 - were raped, and if their families made a scene he humiliated or even executed them.

Twice Uday, 39, turned up at wedding parties and raped the bride-to-be as her and the bridegroom's families were held at gunpoint, listening. At the second such occasion, in 1998, the groom shot himself.

One woman, now a 23-year-old teacher, who was raped by Uday, said: "It was not about having sex with us. He wanted to hurt us. As he raped me he shouted at me, telling me I was committing a sin and would be punished. He was crazy."

Uday's behaviour shocked even his father, who was often asked by members of Baghdad's ruling elite to try to rein in his eldest son. However Saddam would just tap his head with a finger to indicate the "craziness" of his son.

He realised that Uday would be unsuitable to take over his role, particularly after an assassination-attempt in 1996 left him part paralysed and suffering seizures.

The heir apparent

Qusay obsessively plotted to overtake his elder brother as the man who would take over Iraq when his father stood down.

While Uday chased women, secretive Qusay became his father's mirror image.

"Qusay was so desperate to be like his father he would have done anything," said one driver.

Like his brother, the 37-year-old lived an extravagant life while most Iraqis struggled to survive. He also shared his family's vicious streak.

As a young man Qusay worked for his father doing small jobs in internal security. His big break came when Iraq's Shi'ite Muslims revolted against the regime after the Gulf War ended in 1991. Saddam asked Qusay to crush the uprising, which he did with staggering violence.

At one rebel town he had his guards herd 300 prisoners into a football field, before shooting four dead. He ordered his officers to kill the rest. More than 300,000 Shi'ites were executed in all.

He became commander of the Republican Guard and head of the Special Security Organisation, part of the secret police.

Uday had no children but Qusay began a dynasty of his own, having four.

However he liked to stray from his wife. One gardener there told of parties with tables filled with caviar and whisky at his farm.

Germs were an obsession for Qusay. If friends kissed him in the traditional Arab greeting, he would immediately wash his face.

Qusay openly disapproved of his wilder brother's lifestyle.

The final irony was the two brothers were together when they met their end in Mosul.