|Wednesday, July 25, 2003|
[Hussein] brothers fought and died as
By Charles Clover in Mosul
ACROSS the street from the
still-smoking house in Mosul where Qusay and
Uday Hussein are said to have died on
Tuesday, local residents who saw it happen disagree
on virtually all details but one: whoever was in
the house died heroically.
"We should be proud as Iraqis that they died this
way. Four men held off the American army for five
hours They died like men," said Mohammed
Jubburi, who works at a supermarket across the
THE point made in the
article by Shaykh Shahir al-Khazraji, a
neighbour, cannot be stressed enough. To
turn in a house guest to the US
occupation, much less to arrange for his
murder is an unthinkable social crime in
the Arab context.
During the Lebanese Civil War there was
an incident I remember when the head of
one of the Muslim leftist factions and the
head of a Maronite Christian Right-wing
faction felt a need to meet.
The question was, where?
The country's parliament building would
almost surely be shelled by one side or
the other; people would be machine gunned
on the way in.
The presidential palace was in the same
situation, and naturally any hotel that
was still standing would meet a similar
Eventually they agreed to meet at the
home of the Christian Maronite leader,
because the one circumstance in which his
opponent could be assured of security was
as a house guest -- even in the house of
his deadly enemy in the midst of a war
that was devastating the country.
By the way, at least one Arabic paper
reported a US military spokesman as saying
that the $30 million reward was paid out
to the unnamed informer, who is still
under US protection -- naturally enough,
since he would be regarded as the worst of
scum by the members of the society to
which he formerly belonged.
Arabist Eric Mueller
is this website's expert on Middle Eastern
affairs. He is a featured speaker at this
History weekend at Cincinnati, August
29-September 3, 2003.
Neighbours on Wednesday milled around,
inspecting the rocket-blasted house of their
neighbour, Sheikh Nawaf al-Zaidan, whom
locals accuse of having given the US forces
information that the sons of Saddam Hussein were
hiding there, along with Qusay's son Mustafa and a
bodyguard. US forces have not confirmed who the
informant was, but have taken Mr Zaidan into
It was not known why the sons were in Mosul, but
Mr Zaidan is a distant relative of Saddam
Hussein. They appear to have been changing safe
houses and had been there for a maximum of three
Locals were furious with Mr Zaidan, not only,
they say, for bringing the catastrophe to their
neighbourhood but for betraying Mr Hussein's sons
to the US forces. Betraying a guest goes against
the tribal code of Iraqi society, which stresses
hospitality above all else. "I can only say that
nothing compares with this as treachery," said
Sheikh Shahir al Khazaraji, who lives across
the street from Mr Zaidan, and who saw Mr Zaidan on
Tuesday evening, after the battle, boasting that
the Hussein brothers had been in the house.
While the killing of
the brothers is undoubtedly a victory for US
forces in the postwar campaign, they appear to
have created legends. They were despised in life
as part of a hated regime, but in death they
have taken on the status of martyrs, at least in
the minds of local residents.
"They fought excellently," said Mr Jubburi, who
claims they killed two US soldiers and wounded two
others. The US military says none of its soldiers
was killed in the operation. "This is nonsense.
They are lying," said Mr Jubburi. US soldiers
guarding the house on Wednesday said they were
under strict orders not to comment to the press on
Few in the neighbourhood had any inkling of who
might have been sharing Mr Zaidan's house and all
said they were stunned by the suddenness and
brutality of the fighting on Tuesday.
Mr Khazaraji said: "Now we are all thinking back
and saying, 'well, there was this thing that was
out of the ordinary, and we should have been more
For example, his daughter saw a strange black
Mercedes pull up to the Zaidan house late at night
20 days ago, and two men go in. Two days later, a
van took all the furniture from the house.
At 6am on Tuesday, Mr Khazaraji said he saw all
the women of the Zaidan family leave the house in a
The battle started about 9am when dozens of US
soldiers surrounded the house, calling for those
inside to surrender. Mr Zaidan and his son
Sha'lan walked out, were handcuffed and
escorted away. Once this had happened, those inside
the house opened fire on the US soldiers, who
traded rifle and machine-gun fire for more than
It appears that US commandos tried at least once
to enter the house, but each time were driven back
by gunfire. About noon, reinforcements - including
helicopters - arrived and
fired 20 to 25
missiles at the house, reducing it to a
At 2pm, US troops were finally able to enter the
house. They brought out four bodies wrapped in
blankets, and laid them on the pavement.
According to Mr Jubburi and a number of other
witnesses, a group of about 100 Iraqis further down
the street began to chant: "Allahu Akbar!" [God
is Great] when the bodies were brought out.
They say they were fired on though US soldiers
vehemently deny this.
Throughout the battle, residents had no idea
what was happening or why. At 6pm, four hours after
the shooting stopped, Mr Khazaraji said he saw Mr
Zaidan in the street. "He was not in handcuffs. In
fact, he had a glass of tea," he said. "He told me:
'Uday and Qusay were in the house, and brought a
lot of problems with them'."
What is the real
story on the deaths of US occupation troops in
David Irving, A Radical's
the killing of Saddam Hussein's sons
"Yes, I agree, those two
guys could have stood a bit closer to the razor
in the mornings, and one of them does look a bit
goofy to my western eyes, but . . .
where's the Bolognese?"