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Saddam's Martyrs ["Men of Sacrifice"]
Fedayeen Saddam

The paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam (Saddam's `Men of Sacrifice') was founded by Saddam's son Uday in 1995. In September 1996 Uday was removed from command of the Fedayeen. Uday's removal may have stemmed from an incident in March 1996 when Uday transfered sophisticated weapons from Republican Guards to the Saddam Fedayeen without Saddam's knowledge. Control passed to Qusay, further consolidating his responsibility for the Iraqi security apparatus. The deputy commander was Staff Lieutenant General Mezahem Saab Al Hassan Al-Tikriti. According to reports, control of Saddam Hussein's personal militia was later passed back to his eldest son, Uday.

The Fedayeen, with a total strength reportedly between 18,000 and 40,000 troops, was composed of young soldiers recruited from regions loyal to Saddam. The unit reported directly to the Presidential Palace, rather than through the army command, and was responsible for patrol and anti-smuggling duties. Though at times improperly termed an "elite" unit, the Fedayeen was a politically reliable force that could be counted on to support Saddam against domestic opponents. It started out as a rag-tag force of some 10,000-15,000 "bullies and country bumpkins." They were supposed to help protect the president and Uday, and carry out much of the police's dirty work.

The Fidayi Saddam included a special unit known as the death squadron, whose masked members performed certain executions, including in victims' homes. The Fidayi operated completely outside the law, above and outside political and legal structures.

It is difficult to establish the exact date when the beheading of women campaign began in Iraq. Witness accounts report the public beheading of women from June 2000 through to May 2001. Saddam's Fidayi conducted the beheading operations, which took place in two stages. Accompanied by the leaders of the Ba'th party, the Fidayi made a night raid on the district. The latter was gone through with a fine toothcomb to eliminate any hints of revolt and in order to discover any weapons. The population was summoned for the next day at prayer time. They arrived at the stated hour at the home of the victim, who was dragged out in the clothes she is wearing. She was then stretched out on an iron bench, her head hanging down, in front of her children, her family and the whole population of the district. The executioner and his assistants were dressed in brown bearing the logo 'Saddam's Fidayi' and usually did not come from the district or the region. The Feddayi detailed to carry out the beheading took his sword held out by an assistant and cut's the victim's head off. According to the scenes described, the head was exhibited or the body and the head are thrown into black boxes and taken away. Women belonging to families suspected of being hostile to the regime or whose members are in prison as "opponents" (the term of course covers a considerable number of definitions) were particularly targeted.

By late 2001 security was tight in major Iraqi cities. Night curfews had been imposed in the provincial centers of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Basra, Nasiriya, Babel and Najaf. Patrols consisting mainly of members of Fedayeen Saddam were being redeployed in major intersections and strategic sites in these cities.

By August 2002 Iraqi authorities were maintaining a night curfew in several parts of of Baghdad as fears mounted of an imminent U.S. military attack. The curfew was imposed mainly after midnight until 5 a.m. It was being carried out by members of the dreaded Saddam Commandos, a force led by President Saddam Hussein's elder son, Uday, and Special Security Forces commanded by his younger son, Qusay. Patrols from these two forces, the backbone of Saddam's loyal troops, controlled main intersections in Baghdad and blocked entrances to major streets and sensitive areas. As the night fell in Baghdad, the patrols started searching vehicles and individuals, and prevented movement of cars and people shortly after midnight.

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