View Full Version : U.S. Hands Bodies of Uday, Qusay to Iraq

08-02-03, 04:05 AM
Saturday, August 02, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq The U.S. military handed over the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay (search), to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (search), which is taking the corpses for burial in their hometown of Tikrit (search), the U.S. Army said on Saturday.

The bodies of the two men were being held in refrigeration at the U.S. base at Baghdad International Airport (search) where they were prepared for burial according to western -- not Muslim -- custom by military morticians. The brothers were killed by American forces in a huge and lengthy gun battle July 22 in Mosul (search), the northernmost Iraqi big city.

"The Red Crescent will take them to Tikrit and from there somebody will hopefully claim the bodies," said Cpl. Todd Pruden.

Pruden later called back and sought to backtrack, saying the issue of the bodies was being handled by the Coalition Provisional Authority. He did not deny what he told The Associated Press. The CPA, the U.S. adminitrative organization for Iraq, could not confirm the report, said Naheed Mehta, a spokeswoman for the authority. She would not, however, deny that the Red Crescent had taken the bodies from U.S. custody.

The handling of the bodies, including autopsies conducted by the military, touched off a controversy throughout Iraq. Muslim tradition calls for bodies not to be embalmed or in any way retouched and for them to be buried before sundown on the day of death.

The brothers faces were heavily restored and western reporters were allowed to view them and take still pictures and videotape. Those images were flashed across the Arab world by satellite broadcasters in U.S. attempts to convince skeptical Iraqis the men were dead. Still pictures of the brothers released shortly after their deaths had raised doubts that Uday and Qusay were the men in the pictures.

U.S. military sources in Tikrit expressed concern about the return of the men to the city, where the former ruling family is still revered for granting huge economic and political favors to its residents. Large numbers of Saddam's family still live there.

The Tigris River city remains one of the least pacified areas in the country, sitting squarely in the so-called "Sunni Triangle" north and west of Baghdad, where remnants of Saddam loyalists have conducted a guerrilla war against American occupation forces.

The military sources fear that if the two are buried in Tikrit, the gathering for their interment could get out of hand, with a huge backlash against U.S. troops in and around the city.