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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 19:58 GMT 20:58 UK
'I was Saddam's son's double'
Uday Saddam
Mr Latif was forced to have plastic surgery to look more like Uday
Latif Yahia was the double of Saddam Hussein's son Uday for four years prior to the last Gulf War.

He made numerous public appearances during the 1991 conflict, visiting troops on the front line, until he escaped and took refuge with American forces in Kurdistan. He now lives in Ireland.

"I hated the regime even before I was with the government," Mr Latif told the BBC World Service's Outlook programme.

"I was in secondary school with Uday Saddam.

"I was hoping after secondary school to become an engineer. When I saw Uday was going to the same university, I changed to another university and I studied law so I wouldn't be with this man again."

But soon afterwards, he was forced into "becoming" Uday.

"They threatened me - if I don't do this job, they were going to rape my sister in front of me," Mr Latif said.

He added that he was made to undergo plastic surgery to his teeth and chin to make him look more like Uday.

Front line

When the Gulf War started in 1991, he was sent out to the front line in order to give the impression that Uday was with the troops.

"I was in pictures a lot in the first Gulf War," he said.

"I inspected troops, met the military, took photos. I was like 'I am with the military, I am fighting with my brothers'."

Uday himself was actually in Switzerland.

At one point during the conflict a number of media reports stated that Saddam Hussein's son has been killed in southern Iraq.

In actual fact it was Mr Latif who had been caught in the attack. Though not dead, he had been seriously injured.

"I went in front of the media with a bandage on my head," he said.

"[Then] Saddam Hussein ordered Uday to come back in order to say, 'the media in the West, they are lying, I am alive and I'm still fighting here'."

Shortly afterwards Mr Latif defected to the US, but he has never been able to escape his past.

Family tragedy

Since then he has been the target of four assassination attempts - "twice in Vienna, once in London and once in Norway".

"I forget what my family looks like - it is 12 years since I left Iraq."

That family has recently suffered tragedy during the current war.

"I got a phone call to say my family house has collapsed, my mother, sister and brother were injured, and my sister-in-law has been killed."

And although he said he hated the current Iraqi government, he did not support the US-led invasion.

"I can't defend this evil regime in Iraq. This government cost Iraq billions and billions of dollars and thousands and thousands of lives.

"This doesn't mean I give permission to Britain and America to go and wreck my country.

"This is a war against my country. Saddam Hussein is not Iraq."



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