Saddam Hussein’s sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed in a fierce, six-hour firefight in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul on Monday night.
The raid on the home of a contractor in an affluent neighborhood was the result of a tip to American forces and is also believed to have resulted in the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s 14-year-old grandson and a bodyguard.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of the coalition ground forces, confirmed in a news conference on Tuesday (July 22) that the bodies of Uday and Qusay were among the four taken from the house. Though they were reportedly seriously burned after the lengthy firefight that included small arms, anti-tank weapons and grenade launchers, Sanchez said that multiple unnamed sources were used to identify the bodies. The general said more information on how the bodies were identified will be revealed in a briefing on Wednesday.
Sanchez said he could not yet confirm the presence of the body believed to be Qusay’s teenage son, Mustafa, who was said to have been traveling with his father. The battle involved more than 200 troops of the 101st Airborne and was preceded by intelligence from what Sanchez said was a “walk in” informant, who supplied the information on Monday night.
The reviled Uday Hussein was the #2 most wanted man in the United States’ deck of 55 Most Wanted and Qusay was #3. The United States was offering a $15 million reward for information leading to the capture of each of the brothers or proof of their deaths. Sanchez said the rewards will likely be paid to the suppliers of the information.
Uday Hussein, Saddam’s eldest son, was one of the most hated figures in Iraq. The head of the Iraqi national media and Olympic committee, Uday had a taste for luxury cars and women but also for brutality. He is reported to have regularly raped and tortured women and indulged in beatings and murders, including his ordered torture of several Iraqi soccer players after a poor performance in 1997. Uday was also the leader of the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary group loyal to his father’s regime (see “Who Are The Fedayeen?” ).
Uday had difficulty walking as a result of a 1996 assassination attempt that left him seriously injured, leading experts to speculate that the fourth person could have been a bodyguard or assistant who helped him get around.
Saddam’s younger son, Qusay, was first in line to succeed Saddam. He was in charge of all Iraqi intelligence and security services, as well as the Republican Guard (see “What Is The Republican Guard?” ) and the Special Republican Guard, part of the dreaded Special Security Organization, which protected the regime and its non-conventional weapons program. Qusay was also involved in bloody purges of regime opponents, though was reportedly less brash and unpredictable than Uday.
Near the end of the war in Iraq, the brothers fled together to Syria, according to CNN, and were later expelled and returned to Northern Iraq. Their discovery in the North, however, surprised many experts. There is a great deal of hostility toward the Husseins there because of the regime’s numerous deadly purges of the Kurds who control the region (see “Who Are The Kurds?” ). Military experts said Saddam ordered his sons to split off from him and flee following the fall of Baghdad, which might explain why the pair would have been in the Mosul home together.
CNN reported that one U.S. soldier was shot in the chest during the firefight, one Iraqi teenager was killed in the crossfire and five Iraqis were wounded. The bodies of Uday and Qusay were flown out of the area following the battle.
The White House confirmed that it is aware of the reports but would not comment on the specifics, according to spokesperson Scott McClellan.