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Born to a peasant father on April 28, 1937, in the village of al-Oja near the desert town of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, Saddam became president, prime minister, chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council and field marshal.

india Updated: Feb 22, 2003 16:05 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press


Born to a peasant father on April 28, 1937, in the village of al-Oja near the desert town of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, Saddam became president, prime minister, chairman of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council and field marshal.

Violence has long a part of Saddam's political strategy. A year after joining the then-underground Baath Socialist Party in 1957, he spent six months in prison for the slaying of his brother-in-law, a communist. In 1968, his Baath Party took over in a coup that Saddam helped organize. Saddam pushed aside coup leader Gen. Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr to become president in July 1979.

Hundreds of senior party members were imprisoned or executed in Saddam's takeover. After more than a decade of sanctions and political isolation sparked by his 1990 invasion of Kuwait and felt most sharply by ordinary Iraqis, Saddam remained defiant, predicting in a televised speech to the nation that Iraq would "no doubt emerge triumphant" from a US-led war.

In a country where family and hometown connections are paramount, he has protected himself by grooming his son as successor and surrounding himself with relatives and friends from the Tikrit area. Saddam and his wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah, have two daughters and three sons. The daughters and the youngest son keep a low profile. Saddam's wife is his cousin and he was raised by her late father, his uncle. His father died before he was born.


Saddam's second-oldest son, whom he is believed to be grooming as

successor. Qusai, 35, is a powerful behind-the-scenes figure. He supervises the Republican Guards, the country's best-trained and best-equipped troops.

Exiled critics of Saddam link his son to brutal crackdowns on the regime's opponents. Qusai, who studied law, married the daughter of a senior military commander. They have three sons and lead a quiet private life.


Saddam's eldest son, 37, seemed a strong candidate to succeed his father until he was shot and badly injured in 1996. He has a reputation for brutality, and has wounded and killed several men.

In contrast to Qusai, Odai is known as a womanizer with a flamboyant wardrobe that ranges from cowboy boots to flowing, gold-embroidered Arab robes.

Odai Saddam Hussein has a seat in parliament, runs Iraq's most popular newspaper, Babil, and the popular Youth TV channel, and heads the National Iraqi Olympic Committee.


Saddam's first cousin has been linked to some of the most brutal episodes of Saddam's regime.

Al-Majid led a 1988 campaign against rebellious Kurds in northern Iraq in which thousands died, many in chemical attacks. He was also linked to crackdowns on Shiites in southern Iraq. He was governor of Kuwait during Iraq's seven-month occupation of the emirate in 1990-1991.

He is also the uncle of Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid, Saddam's son-in-law, the brains behind Iraq's clandestine weapons programs. Al-Majid defected to Jordan in 1995, was lured back to Iraq and killed on his uncle's orders.

Before the 1968 revolution, al-Majid was a motorcycle messenger in the army. Under Saddam, he was defense minister from 1991 to 1995.


Saddam's cousin, personal secretary and former bodyguard has been described as the key figure in Iraq after Saddam's two sons, and Iraqi opposition figures say he is among the top 10 Iraqis who should go on trial.

In the 1990s, Hmoud, who is in his 40s, was in charge of several security portfolios, including responsibility over places where Iraq has been accused of hiding weapons programs.


Born July 1, 1942, he has known Saddam since the early, underground days of the Baath and has been deputy head of the ruling council since Saddam seized power in 1979. One of the few old comrades to have survived Saddam's frequent purges, Al-Douri has chaired special tribunals trying Saddam's opponents and issued death sentences.

His daughter is married to Saddam's eldest son, Odai.


Saddam's vice president since March 1991 and known to be as ruthless as his boss. In 1970, he headed a revolutionary court that executed 44 officers for plotting to overthrow the regime. During a visit to Jordan in the 1980s, he was quoted as telling fundamentalists that Muslims were free to follow their faith, "but if they try to harm the Baathist regime or ridicule its slogans, the regime will break their necks!"

Born in 1938 in Mosul in northeastern Iraq, he was a bank clerk and later junior army officer. He joined the underground Baath in 1956 and became close to Saddam. Although considered less influential than in his heyday, Ramadan is high on the list of regime figures Iraqi opposition groups say should be tried for crimes against humanity.


A deputy prime minister, the only Christian in the Iraqi leadership and one of Iraq's best-known voices to the world. Although one of Saddam's most loyal aides, like most non-Tikritis, he has virtually no power.

Born in 1936 in Mosul, he studied English literature at Baghdad College of Fine Arts, became a teacher and journalist, and joined the Baath in 1957, working closely with Saddam to overthrow the British-imposed monarchy.


As foreign minister since 2001, Sabri led failed negotiations with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last year for the return of weapons inspectors in Iraq and has crisscrossed the region seeking Arab support for Iraq.

Saddam likely values Sabri's loyalty and command of English and Sabri is thought to be close to Saddam's younger son Qusai. But for sensitive missions, Saddam is likely to pick a relative or longtime aide rather than Sabri.

Born in 1948, Sabri is a rare figure in Iraqi politics: a man who fell from grace without his career ending. In 1980, he was recalled from the Iraqi Embassy in London when two of his brothers were jailed on conspiracy charges. One brother died in prison and the other was freed after six years. Sabri ran an English-language newspaper and an arts journal in Baghdad for several years after the scandal.

By the time of the Gulf War, Sabri had been rehabilitated.


The only Kurd in the Baath hierarchy has been vice president since 1975. His appointment as one of two vice presidents is largely seen as a gesture to the Kurdish minority; he has little real power. Born in 1924 into a prominent family in Kurd-dominated northern Iraq, he joined the Baath in 1968 and held several ministerial posts. He also has served as ambassador to Italy, Malta and Albania.


The former chief of staff and Republican Guard commander now heads the Fedayeen Saddam, a paramilitary force. A staunch Saddam loyalist, he was awarded 27 medals during the 1980-88 war with Iran and was severely wounded in the head leading a counterattack against an Iranian offensive.


Like Sabri, Hammadi recovered from a fall from favor. A U.S.-educated proponent of economic liberalization, he developed reforms after the 1980-88 war with Iran that were blocked by a sudden collapse in oil prices in 1990. After the 1991 Gulf War in which a U.S.-led multinational coalition ousted Iraq from Kuwait, Hammadi was named prime minister, but was ousted after seven months. Party insiders say that Hammadi, a non-Tikriti, had been the most outspoken in Saddam's circle. Since being rehabilitated and made parliament speaker in 1995, he has showed none of his old zeal for reform.

Born into a wealthy family in 1930, Hammadi has a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin.

First Published: Feb 22, 2003 00:00 IST