Wednesday 13 September 2023

Uday Hussein: The King Of Clubs, Cars And Cruelty

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
Uday, what are you? A businessman or a playboy? I don't know what to make of you. (By Saddam Hussein)

There is little doubt that Uday Hussein, the eldest son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, stands as one of the most terrifying individuals to ever tread upon this planet. Uday was a playboy and a pathological killer with a love for exotic cars, booze, Cuban cigars, guns (particularly golden ones) and Star Wars. Uday's erratic lifestyle led him on a path of death and destruction from a young age. Engaged in a myriad of businesses, Uday's criminal empire was involved in smuggling sanctioned goods such as oil and cigarettes, and cocaine alongside running a fast-food restaurant chain called 'Super Chicken' and an ice cream company called 'The Wave' (if you're still curious about the real-life inspiration behind the character Gus Fring in Breaking Bad, your search ends here). He also headed television and radio stations, was chairman of the board of seven newspapers and was at the helm of Iraq's most successful sports club. Uday took particular pride in the fearsome image he cultivated and referred to himself as 'Abu Sarhan' (The Father of Wolves).
Much of Uday's notoriety arose from his role as the head of the Iraqi Olympic Committee, where he resorted to torture in an attempt to enhance the performance of Iraq's athletes. In 1993, following the Iraqi national soccer team's failure to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Uday forced the players to train using concrete balls. [1] Those who performed particularly poorly, according to Uday, were dragged through a gravel pit and then forced to jump into sewage tanks to induce infections. [1] On another occasion, Uday crammed the entire national volleyball team into a private prison he had constructed in the basement of the Olympic Committee building. The prison had a low ceiling, preventing any of them from sitting or standing, all in the name of what he termed a ''motivational exercise''. [2]
Encountering Uday often led to two distinct outcomes: either an unfortunate individual would find themselves facing a dire fate, enduring days of brutal torture, or by some unpredictable twist of fate, Uday would form an unexpected fondness for them. In the latter scenario, winning Uday's friendship entailed drinking a cocktail dubbed the 'Uday Saddam Hussein'—a blend of whiskey, brandy, vodka, cognac, and beer, served in a large 'cup of friendship'. [3] The newly declared friend was obliged to drink the mixture down to its very last drop. Those who were able to maintain a good relationship with Uday long enough would receive gifts that went beyond the ordinary tokens of friendship. These rewards either included a gold-plated Tariq pistol, a Tarbuk carbine or even an Al-Kadesiah marksman rifle. However, it appears that Uday's circle of close friends had dwindled significantly over the years, as dozens of nickel and gold-plated firearms were discovered by US forces in Uday's Baghdad palace in 2003. [4]
Throughout his life, Uday developed addictions to various vices, but perhaps none were as compelling as his obsessions with sex and pornography. In 2003, when U.S. soldiers entered his Baghdad palace, they stumbled upon a villa dedicated solely to accommodate his harem. Evidences of Uday's sexual addiction permeated the entire palace. The residence was adorned with paintings of nude women and stacks of internet printouts featuring prostitutes, each accompanied by handwritten ratings. One printed document seemed to depict a spicy conversation between Uday and a European woman, which read: ''Darling, babe, it’s not good timing to send me sexy attachment''. [5] Thankfully for the US Army soldiers searching the palace, the ''sexy attachment'' was never found. What they did find was a book containing an extensive list of women's names, along with their photographs and phone numbers. A US Army Captain officer the premises described it as "the largest collection of naked women I'd ever seen". [5]

In this image, Uday (right) is pictured with his brother Qusay (left). Notably, Uday is seen enjoying his custom-made La Habana cigars, which were prominently labeled 'Uday Saddam Hussein.'

Despite his appetite for power and sexual indulgence, it is widely recognised that Uday was highly intelligent. In 1998, he earned a doctorate in political science from the University of Baghdad, completing his doctoral thesis titled ''The World after the Cold War''. [6] Once destined to succeed his father, Uday's lust for senseless murder resulted in his younger brother Qusay being favoured instead. Uday's political downfall began at the age of 19 when he clubbed to death Saddam's valet and friend Kamel Hana. Rushing to the scene, Saddam delivered an ultimatum to his son: if Kamel would die, so would Uday. Kamel passed away later that night, and it was only through the intervention of Uday's mother that his death sentence was commuted to one of torture. [7] Following his release, Saddam sent Uday into exile in Switzerland. Nonetheless, the peace and tranquility of Switzerland did little to quell Uday's penchant for violence. Years later, in 1995, Uday shot his uncle Watban Ibrahim, inflicting injuries so severe that Watban's leg had to be amputated. Considering various options for Uday's punishment, including the idea of having Watban shoot Uday in a manner similar to how he had been shot, Saddam eventually decided to only set one of Uday's garages on fire. [7]

With a growing list of enemies, Uday's luck was inevitably bound to run out. Indeed, a year after shooting Watban Ibrahim, Uday was ambushed in December 1996 while driving his Porsche through Baghdad, sustaining at least seven gunshot wounds. [7] The assailants, who tried to put an end to Uday's reign of terror in Iraq, were subsequently executed along with most of their family members. Uday never fully recovered from the injuries he suffered during the attack and walked with a limp for the remainder of his life. Contrary to popular belief, the attack did not render him impotent; instead, it fueled his already intense appetite for sex and murder. While reports of Uday's killings and sexual assaults have often been exaggerated and, in many cases, entirely fabricated, there is no uncertainty that his sadistic tendencies and sexual desires increasingly consumed his life. However, following the 2003 invasion, the proliferation of false stories about Uday became so widespread that it's often impossible to discern truth from fiction. 
What is certain is that the Iraqi population was destined to experience his tyranny until 2003 through his control over the brutal paramilitary force known as the Fedayeen Saddam. The Fedayeen operated completely outside the law and reported directly to Uday, effectively serving as his private army. Beyond utilising the Fedayeen to eliminate his opponents and terrorise the Iraqi population, his authority over the paramilitary force also enabled him to establish an extensive criminal empire engaged in smuggling cocaine and goods sanctioned by the UN after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Being a devoted Star Wars enthusiast, Uday had the helmets and uniforms of the Fedayeen Saddam designed to resemble the outfit worn by Darth Vader. In addition their comical appearance, these helmets were of low-quality fiberglass construction and would have provided little to no protection to anyone wearing them in combat. 

You might mistake this for a scene depicting soldiers of the Galactic Empire targeting the Rebel Alliance in the midst of the Battle of Tatooine. In reality, it portrays a Fedayeen Saddam member participating in an exercise in Iraq.

One might ask why the son of Iraq's dictator ended up terrorising his own country using troops wearing Darth Vader costumes like characters from a poorly scripted Star Wars film. The answer to this question might be found in the fact that his other pastime, cheating in sports, had been taken away by Saddam. A devoted soccer enthusiast, Uday established his sports club, Al-Rasheed SC in 1983, and forced numerous top Iraqi players into signing with the club. In his dual role as the head of the Iraqi Football Association (definitely no conflict of interest to be found here), Uday orchestrated Al-Rasheed's rapid ascent to dominance in Iraqi football, much to the anger of ordinary Iraqis. Despite the widespread dissatisfaction among Iraqi football fans, Uday's club managed to secure victory in the 1987 Uday Hussein Championship named after himself. Following this 'triumph', Uday had the opportunity to reward himself with a medal in his capacity as the head of the Iraqi Football Association. Nonetheless, the club was dissolved three years later at the direction of Saddam in response to the increasing discontent with the unfairness of Iraqi soccer.

When he wasn't overseeing his criminal empire or engaging in other nefarious activities, Uday frequently took himself on hunting excursions using one of the country's many VIP helicopters, like this MBB/Kawasaki BK 117.

Being the dictator's son granted Uday the privilege of obtaining anything he desired in life, whether it was women he snatched from the streets of Baghdad with the assistance of his bodyguards, his own private army adorned in Darth Vader costumes or the latest and most expensive cars sourced from all corners of the world. Uday is said to have amassed around 1300 exotic and rare cars throughout the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s. [8] Certainly, this number has no basis in reality, and it's likely that the actual count of cars owned by Uday was not even one-tenth of that figure. Similarly, the number of cars owned by Uday that were destroyed by Saddam in retaliation for the shooting of Watban Ibrahim in 1995 is reported to range from 300 to 13, with the latter figure likely to be the most accurate.

Among his collection, Uday had a significant number of Porsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis, including a rare Lamborghini LM002 off-road vehicle, often referred to as the 'Rambo Lambo'. Porsches appeared to be a particular favourite of his, as he possessed at least four of them, including the 986 Boxster and three 993 Turbos. Additionally, his collection featured other high-performance supercars like the Lamborghini Diablo and a Ferrari 550 Maranello. There are reports that Uday owned a fleet of Bentleys, Bugattis, Aston Martins, and a McLaren F1 as well, although there is no existing evidence to support these claims. Uday had a fondness for cars inspired by the designs of the 1920s and 1930s, and owned a number of unique vehicles, including a London Taxi and a Ford Woodie Wagon.

A Ferrari Testarossa covered in dust (on the left) and a Porsche Carrera (on the right), both previously owned by Uday.

When US troops captured Uday's Baghdad palace in 2003, the full extent of his extravagant lifestyle quickly became apparent. Soldiers found $1 million of liquor and the finest wines, multiple garages for his collection of luxury cars and even a private zoo with two cheetahs, five lions and a bear. [9] [10] Following closely behind the US troops, a multitude of Iraqi civilians surged forward, attempting to seize the opportunity to make off with one of Uday's cars. In the ensuing confusion, looters made away with several of Uday's cars. The situation was not helped by the fact that the keys to all the cars had been left in their ignitions. Though some of Uday's cars were later returned to the state, most of them were never to be seen again. Many of them are still thought to be hidden throughout Iraq to this day.
The looting of Uday's palaces is one of the sources behind the rumours concerning the scale of Uday's car collection. With claims of 1300 cars in Uday's possession, virtually every exotic or luxury car in Iraq is reported to have had a connection to Uday, even when none exists. This misconception extended to vehicles owned by other prominent Iraqi government figures, including his brother Qusay (known for his affection for G-Wagons) and Saddam himself. Upon assuming power in Iraq in 1967, Saddam Hussein took control of the country's extensive collection of vintage cars once used or owned by former Iraqi statesmen. This assortment notably featured a Mercedes-Benz 500K Erdmann & Rossi 1935 Roadster and a Mercedes-Benz 770 'Großer Mercedes'. While it's likely that Uday may have felt envious of Saddam's collection, there is no evidence to indicate that he ever assumed ownership of those vehicles.
Alongside his enthusiasm for cars, Uday also had a great passion for motorcycles. However, following the 1996 assassination attempt, his injuries rendered him incapable of riding standard motorcycles, leading to the conversion of some of his two-wheelers into tricycles. Yet, the incapability of riding standard motorcycles was soon to become the least of Uday's problems, as US troops invaded Iraq in 2003 to complete what they hadn't finished in 1991. Both Uday and Qusay went into hiding in a mansion in Mosul, where they believed they were safe. The owner, undoubtedly enticed by the $30 million bounty on their heads, walked to a nearby US Army base to turn them in and claim his reward. Soon, the mansion found itself surrounded by US troops. Refusing to surrender without a fight, Uday and Qusay battled US forces for four hours until 12 TOW ATGMs, fired into the mansion, silenced their guns.

Uday in his role as a family man. Contrary to what has been written, Uday was never married, as he physical abused his three fiancées before the intended marriages could take place.

The following list aims to catalog the cars owned by Uday Hussein. This inventory solely comprises his personal vehicles and does not encompass those of his father, Saddam Hussein. The actual number of cars and motorcycles owned by Uday Hussein remains shrouded in mystery due to the looting of Uday's palaces in 2003, but is certainly higher than the number recorded here (39). Therefore, this list does not aim to provide a comprehensive inventory of his collection but rather offers a unique insight into his automotive interests.
(Click on the vehicle to get a picture of them)

Supercars (11)

  • 1 Porsche 986 Boxster: (1)
  • 1 Porsche 993 Turbos: (1)
  • 1 Porsche 964: (1)
  • 1 Porsche 993 Carrera: (1)
  • 1 Ferrari Testarossa: (1)
  • 1 Ferrari F40: (1)
  • 1 Ferrari 348 TS: (1)
  • 1 Ferrari 550 Maranello: (1)
  • 1 Lamborghini Diablo: (1)
  • 1 Lamborghini LM002: (1)
  • 1 Jaguar XK8 Convertible: (1)

Luxury Cars (15)

  • 2 BMW 5 Series (E34): (1) (2)
  • 1 BMW Z1: (1)
  • 1 Mercedes-Benz W116: (1)
  • 1 Mercedes-Benz W126 Coupe Gemballa: (1)
  • 1 BMW M635CSI Gemballa: (1)
  • 1 Rolls Royce Corniche Convertible: (1)
  • 4 Rolls-Royce Silver Spurs: (1 and 2) (3) (4)
  • 1 Rolls-Royce Corniche (2000): (1)
  • 1 Chevrolet Convertible: (1)
  • 1 Chevrolet Coupe: (1)
  • 1 Stutz Blackhawk: (1)
  • 1 Plymouth Prowler: (1)

Classis And Vintage Cars (9)

  • 1 Austin 8: (1)
  • 1 London Taxi: (1) 
  • 1 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow: (1)
  • 1 1958 Ford Fairlane 500: (1)
  • 1 Ford Woody Wagon: (1)
  • 2 Zimmer Golden Spirit: (1 and 2)
  • 1 LevonJeep: (1)
  • Missing flag.png 1 Unknown Vintage-Style Car Replica: (1)

Toy Cars (2)

  • 1 Toylander 1: (1)
  • Missing flag.png 1 Unknown Buggy: (1)

Motorcycles (2)

  • 1 BMW 1100 RT: (1)
  • 1 Honda CB1100F: (1)
[1] Torture, Threats and Imprisonment – How Uday Saddam Hussein Destroyed Iraqi Football
[4] GWT: Custom-made weapons found in Uday's house 
[6] Uday Hussein: Playboy turned academic
[7] Sons Of Saddam Hussein - Full Documentary
[10] GWT: WRAP Marines clear Saddam's sons palace, plus luxury cars found
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