Skip to comments.U.S. autopsies: Hussein brothers each shot more than 20 times; faces reconstructed for viewing
Posted on 07/25/2003 7:32:13 AM PDT by kattracks
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S. military showed reporters the bodies of Odai and Qusai Hussein on Friday and said each body contained more than 20 bullet wounds. The faces had been partly reconstructed to appear as lifelike as possible.
The display of the bodies, seen by an Associated Press reporter, came after still photographs released Thursday failed to convince many Iraqi civilians the brothers were really dead.
Odai's beard had been trimmed to the length he had worn it in life. Qusai's beard was shaved off and he had only a mustache -- his trademark. The faces appeared waxy and heavily made up.
Morticians removed a large gash that had cut across the middle of Odai's face. Odai's abdomen had been riddled with bullets, and the torsos of both brothers bore large Y-shaped incisions.
Autopsy incisions were also visible on Odai's left leg, where doctors removed an 8-inch long bar that had been inserted after a 1996 assassination attempt. A piece of leg bone taken out with the bar was wrapped in plastic and lying next to his body on the gurney.
Each brother also had multiple scrapes, abrasions and burns. Odai was believed to have died from a head injury caused by a blunt object. Qusai had two bullet wounds to his head, in and just behind his right ear, doctors and medical officials said. They said they did not think the wounds were self-inflicted.
U.S. officials who handled the corpses said the brothers were made to look as lifelike as possible, a standard military procedure for all bodies.
But the reconstruction was significant because of the doubt about the still photographs, in which the brothers' faces were obscured by heavy beards, blood and gashes.
Surgeons who showed reporters the metal rod they removed from Odai's leg said the serial and model number matched data they had about it. They also displayed dental X-rays.
Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, were killed Tuesday in a gunbattle with U.S. troops, who raided a villa in the northern city of Mosul, directed there by an Iraqi tipster.
The U.S. military had offered a $15 million reward for information leading to the capture or death of the brothers -- two of the most feared men in Iraq and Nos. 2 and 3 on the American list of most-wanted Iraqis.
Saddam's sons responded to U.S. soldiers' demand to surrender with a hail of gunfire, so there was no way they could have been captured alive, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday in Washington.
Some Iraqis say they would have preferred that the sons were captured and put on trial, but Rumsfeld said there was no reason to second-guess the actions of the 101st Airborne Division troops who carried out the quick-reaction mission in Mosul.
"Given the amount of gunfire that came from that building ... it is I think obvious that there was no chance of taking them alive," the defense secretary said.
U.S. officials said the bodies would be stored in a refrigerated tent at Baghdad International Airport until a family member came forward to claim them.
The U.S. civil administration in Iraq was talking to the country's Governing Council about how to preserve the bodies according to Islamic custom, which calls for burial as soon as possible. Usually, Muslims are buried before nightfall the day they die.
U.S. medical personnel said they treated the bodies with the same respect they would accord any corpse.
A final report on the brothers' deaths was expected within six weeks, the American officials said on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. military has said a third man, believed to have been a bodyguard, also was killed by TOW missiles fired into the villa in Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq and home to many of Saddam's Baath Party loyalists.
A fourth person in the house, believed to be Qusai's teenage son Mustafa, was shot to death when troops stormed the house.
The photographs released Thursday were widely viewed on television around the world, including in Iraq. Among the complaints was that the photographs did not show the sons' full bodies.
Most papers in the capital, Baghdad, did not publish Friday, a traditional day of prayer and rest in the country. The Al Ray Al-Am ran a story about the pictures, but did not show them, opting instead to show an older color photo of Odai, the eldest son, wearing an Arab headdress, his faced crossed out with a red "X."
The photos seemed to have had little effect on Iraqi opinion.
"This is a U.S. ploy to try to break the spirit of the resistance," said Jassim al-Robai, a computer engineer, who said the photographs did not convince him the brothers were killed.
Two U.S. military photos showed a man identified as Qusai with bruises and blood spots around his eyes. That face was far more intact than the other, identified as Odai.
The face of what appeared to be Odai was severely bloodied. A gash ran from his left eye to the right corner of his mouth, and bruises and blood covered his forehead.
Both men were heavily bearded, which left some Iraqis speculating that they may have been trying to mask their identities. They had been on the run since the regime collapsed April 9.
Britain's top representative in the country, John Sawers, told British Broadcasting Corp. radio Friday that the killings dealt a blow to any hopes of Saddam sympathizers that his Baathist regime could return.
The deaths of Odai and Qusai "have been hugely celebrated here. This is a day of celebration for Iraq," Sawers said.
L. Paul Bremer, the top civilian administrator of Iraq, told NBC's "Today" that the brothers' deaths may help American forces capture their father.
"I think the noose is certainly tightening," Bremer said. "His support circle has to be getting tighter around him."
Bremer also said the United States would continue its efforts to reconstruct Iraq, even if it has to bear most of the burden.
"When Americans undertake a great and noble cause -- and that's what this is -- they see it through. And we're going to see this through," Bremer said.
Sorry, but I have to disagree.
Showing the corpses of our vanquished foes does not even come close to the level of savagery committed by these two individuals.
Furthermore, I have no desire to be a part of some kind of "kindler, gentler sensitive" America. I prefer the America that kicks ass and celebrates the violent, painful deaths of our enemies.
The only thing I'm sorry about is that they cleaned up their bodies. I'd rather seen their bloody heads paraded about town on pikes.
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