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St. Petersburg Times February 16, 2003

Saddam Hussein's inner circle

QUSAY SADDAM HUSSEIN, 35, younger son of Saddam Hussein, appears to be first in line to succeed his father. Qusay (pronounced KOH-sy) is in charge of the Special Security Organization, the Special Republican Guard and the elite Republican Guard, the units charged with protecting the regime and special weapons programs, and the Fedayeen, a 40,000-strong special force available to control popular uprising. A law graduate, he was placed on the Iraqi Regional Command, the executive leadership of the ruling Baath Party, in May 2001.

ABED HAMEED HMOUD AL-TIKRITI, Hussein's personal secretary. He comes from Hussein's home town, Tikrit, and controls access to Hussein. Along with Qusay, he oversees the Special Security Organization, one of the most feared agencies within Iraq. Iraqi opposition figures say Hmoud should be tried for crimes against humanity.

UDAY SADDAM HUSSEIN, 37, Saddam Hussein's older son. He controls the Iraqi media and a small security force. A 1996 assassination attempt left him temporarily paralyzed, and he reportedly remains in generally poor health. Uday (pronounced oh-DY) allegedly had a part in the early 1996 killing of his two brothers-in-law, Hussein Kamel and Saddam Kamel, after they were lured back from Jordan where they had defected. He owns the Babel daily paper, which the government recently suspended, the weekly Rafidayn newspaper, the Al-Shabab TV station and a rock 'n' roll radio station. A far more flamboyant character than Qusay, he seems to have exhausted his father's patience. He is reputed to have shot dead one of Saddam Hussein's bodyguards in an argument.

TAHA YASSIN RAMADAN, a vice president and foreign policy adviser to Hussein. He, Izzat Ibrahim and Hussein are the only survivors from the plotters who carried out the 1968 coup that brought the Baath Party to power. He is known as one of Hussein's enforcers. He reportedly entertained Osama bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, in Baghdad in 1998.

IZZAT IBRAHIM, one of Hussein's most trusted advisers and vice chairman of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council, which controls the ruling Baath Party. The council is the most powerful political entity in the country; new RCC members must come from the Regional Command Leadership of the Baath Party. Hussein is chairman. According to the Iraqi constitution, the vice chairman of the revolutionary council, and not the vice president, is to temporarily rule in the event of Hussein's departure from office. He was born in 1942 near Tikrit.

TARIQ AZIZ, a deputy prime minister. This former newspaper editor worked his way up through party and government offices and has been an adviser to Hussein for 20 years. Though a Christian in a mainly Muslim nation, Aziz was rewarded with the deputy prime minister's slot when Hussein seized power in 1979. He has survived Hussein's periodic purges of top political and military officials. Hussein used a 1980 assassination attempt on Aziz as a pretext for launching the Iran-Iraq war. More than others in Hussein's inner circle, Aziz is believed to have free rein to shape Iraq's image overseas. No longer foreign minister, he nevertheless retains a position on the Revolution Command Council.

LT. GEN. ALI HASSAN AL-MAJID, Hussein's paternal cousin, whom the U.S. government considers the "enforcer of the regime's most brutal policies," according to one administration analysis. He is called "Chemical Ali" because he orchestrated the gassing of Kurds at Halabja in 1988. He is also said to have participated in the killing of Hussein's two sons-in-law. He is a member of the key Revolution Command Council.

SOURCES: Associated Press; GlobalSecurity.org; Washington Post; USA Today; the Guardian; BBC News Online

GRAPHIC: PHOTO, (7); QUSAY SADDAM HUSSEIN; ABED HAMEED HMOUD AL-TIKRITI; UDAY SADDAM HUSSEIN; TAHA YASSIN RAMADAN; IZZAT IBRAHIM; TARIQ AZIZ; LT. GEN. ALI HASSAN AL-MAJID


Copyright 2003, Times Publishing Company