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Panorama
'I was Saddam's boyhood friend'
Ibrahim Zobedi
Ibrahim Zobedi grew up with Saddam
As part of an investigation into Saddam Hussein's rise to power, the BBC's Panorama programme interviewed a former school friend to the Iraqi leader.

Saddam Hussein was a lonely child who even as a teenager knew how to inspire fear in others, according to a former school friend.

Ibrahim Zobedi says the Iraqi leader had a poverty-stricken childhood and was brought up by his uncle, because his step-father hated him.

Zobedi first met Saddam Hussein at school in Iraq. He used to visit him and his mother regularly in their home village of Alouja.

Very quiet

Iraqi Presidential Palace
From childhood poverty, Saddam now has Palaces
Saddam spent his childhood between Alouja and the nearby town of Tikrit after going to live with his uncle.

"He was very quiet you know," said Zobedi, "he didn't share with us our play, our games.

"He laughed at us when we talked about girls. He kept quiet always and he seemed to be thinking all the time."

In fact, Zobedi, was one of a lonely Saddam's very few childhood friends.

Lonely


He felt that nobody liked him

Ibrahim Zobedi

Interviewed for a Panorama special programme, examining Saddam's rise to power, he explained: "He felt that nobody liked him.

"His uncle laughed at him and treated him like a dummy. He didn't play games with other children. Always he was alone. He was all alone, he had very very few friends."

Zobedi feels this loneliness was partly due to his poor relationship with his stepfather - Abrahim Al Hassin.

"He didn't like Saddam," he said, "when we used to visit his mother in Alouja, he didn't talk to Saddam or welcome him.

"I think this is the reason why Saddam left Alouja and went to his Uncle Keroloa's house in Tikrit."

The first signs of Saddam's ruthlessness came as a young teenager, when, at the age of 14, he apparently claimed he had tried to kill his teacher.

Revenge

Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein: allegedly shot his teacher
It happened after he had been beaten by one of his strict teachers. The Iraqi leader did not flinch or say a word, but quickly got his revenge according to Zobedi.

He said: "That night, a man riding a horse knocked at the door of the teacher's house in the outskirts of the town.

"When the brother opened the door, the horse rider shot the brother in the leg.

Expolsives

"The teacher carried his wounded brother to the hospital and went straight to the police station and reported the incident. He accused Saddam of the shooting.

"When the police arrived at the house, they found Saddam fast asleep but there was no gun or horse.

"The teacher didn't hang around and left the town soon after. A few days later Saddam told me that he returned the horse and gun to Alouja and went to bed."

The young Saddam also had a rather unusual method of fishing according to Zobedi.

He said: "He used to prepare a bomb, a special bomb. He would throw it in the river, and then the explosion would bring up all the fish and we'd collect them."

Jeep and a gun


Saddam...wrote down that he wanted to have a jeep, a gun and binoculars

Ibrahim Zobedi

The childhood friends used to sit and dream about what they wanted to do in the future according to Zobedi.

"Nabil wanted to become a doctor, I wanted to become a poet, Adnan wanted to become a military officer but as for Saddam he wrote down that he wanted to have a jeep, a gun and binoculars."

Zobedi, who went on to become a journalist, believes Saddam's humble roots have made him an implacable foe.

He predicted: " He will stay, he will fight to the end. You know, the end, I mean it. He will not give up.

"He is very dangerous His childhood was very poor, he had nothing, no family, no house, no job, no parents, nothing and now he's got everything. He will not give up."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Ibrahim Zobedi
"Saddam felt he was lonely....he had very very few friends."
Ibrahim Zobedi
"He is in a corner...he will not give up"
Saddam - a warning from history


Background



IN DEPTH
Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.


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