Uday Hussein's body double
As the body double for Saddam Hussein's son, Latif Yahia suffered several assassination attempts. Having escaped to Offaly, the controversial figure is now seriously at odds with his adopted country.
Jason O'Toole, 26 Apr 2007
The former body double of Saddam Hussein’s sadistic son, Uday, is now living in (of all places) Offaly. Latif Yahia’s account of his time serving as the dictator’s son’s double would make a Hollywood screenwriter salivate.
Indeed, the 42-year-old recently sold the rights to his two autobiographies, I Was Saddam’s Son and The Devil’s Double, to the film company Pâté, with pre-production work already underway on what will certainly make for a fascinating insight into the demi-monde of Saddam’s regime.
Latif came to notice as a possible double, or ‘Fidai’ as they are referred to in Iraq, when he first met Uday in school.
He insists that he only agreed, reluctantly, to undertake what was a deadly dangerous role when the regime’s cronies arrested him and threatened to rape his younger sisters. Latif suffered several assassination attempts and was shot 11 times, with the last bullet lodged in his right shoulder coming from the gun of Uday himself. He states categorically that Uday – who he describes as “pure evil” – murdered his father.
Perhaps there’s an even better film in how Latif managed to abscond from Saddam’s clutches to a suburban housing estate in Daingean, County Offaly. He tells it like this.
Aided by the CIA, he was transported to Austria. Placed in a refugee camp there, he became incensed by conditions and took a policeman hostage to negotiate better living conditions. He alleges that the CIA then kept him incarcerated illegally for 10 months, as they attempted to pump him for confidential information about Saddam. Later, in Norway, Latif was so upset by the conditions in another refugee camp that he threatened to burn the place down.
Eventually, Latif, who has a PhD in international law, opted to come here. He relished the thought, he says, of settling down and living a mundane life in rural Ireland. But this dream has since been shattered by, he alleges, sinister CIA agents who vowed to crush him for refusing to co-operate and become a spy.
Since he rejected their offer, Latif says that his request for Irish citizenship was rejected – despite the fact that his is married to a Dublin woman, with whom he has a child.
Recently, a fabricated story alleging that he was an international arms dealer appeared in the tabloid press, and he successfully sued one Sunday paper for printing this story. Latif is adamant that both situations can be traced back to his refusal to cooperate with the CIA.
Throughout our conversation, he speaks passionately. You can sense that he is volatile, and much of what he says may be deemed to have the ring of the fantasiscal about it. But that may be a misreading. Latif Yahia has some deadly serious things to say…
He admits to arriving in Ireland under a bogus passport…
“I was in Austria with my real name and I had two assassination attempts. I went to London and I had an assassination attempt. At this time, Saddam was still strong,” he says. “In the end, I found out that my ex-partner was passing on information to the intelligence service. I left her and I came here and applied under a false name – not because I am doing fraud, not because I want to do something wrong, just so nobody knows where Latif Yahia is. Just to disappear. Because there was no Iraqi embassy here. I am safe here.”
Alleges he was beaten up by a Gardaí
“There is no justice in this country,” he states. “If I do this to you (shows photograph of his badly beaten face), what happens to you, do you go to court? I was beaten up by a Garda. They (the Gardaí) wrote to the Department of Justice, saying, ‘(We) believe that Latif Yahia is a terrorist.’ To cover themselves. I wrote and complained to the Commissioner of Police and he is not going to trust Latif Yahia, a foreign piece of shit who came in hunger from his country. But I am not hungry. My father was the third (richest) millionaire in Iraq. I come for political reasons. They think each one coming to this country is hungry, and is coming to take the Irish money. In the end, after two months, I received a letter from the head commissioner, saying I was harassing the Gardaí.