Fact Sheet: Saddam Hussein's Half Brothers

Saddam Hussein has three half brothers from his mother's second marriage. They have been close to Saddam for most of the past three decades. Their willingness to kill and conspire for him, eliminating even members of their own extended clan, was one of the mainstays of the regime.

BARZAN IBRAHIM HASAN, captured Thursday: The youngest of Saddam's half brothers at 53, he served as head of Iraq's secret police, the dreaded Mukhabarat, and as Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva. In that position, he reportedly ran Iraq's intelligence operations in Europe.

Barzan was always Saddam's favorite among his half brothers. He was only 18 when he took part in the 1968 coup that brought Saddam's Baath party to power. But his often unruly behavior, as well as his drinking and womanizing, has sometimes embarrassed Saddam.

In 1974, while Saddam was Iraqi vice president, he got Barzan appointed head of the Mukhabarat. During his tenure, Barzan expanded Iraq's terror machine, carrying out dozens of operations in Europe and elsewhere against Iraqi dissidents.

In 1983 Saddam, who had become president four years earlier, demoted Barzan and his brothers for mysterious reasons. But at the end of the 1980s, Saddam appointed Barzan to the Geneva position. Barzan's rehabilitation appeared complete when he served in the Iraqi delegation that met U.S. Secretary of State James Baker in Geneva in January 1991 in a last effort to head off the Gulf war.

In Geneva, Barzan was widely shunned by the diplomatic community. He once beat up his chauffeur at a diplomatic reception when the man arrived late.

While in Switzerland, Barzan is widely believed to have played a key role in Saddam's clandestine acquisition of nuclear and military technology.

Saddam recalled him from Switzerland in 1999, but his return to Baghdad was delayed for months, sparking rumors he wanted to defect. Relations between Saddam's eldest son, Odai, and Barzan were known to be bad.

Barzan was the chief organizer of a clandestine group of companies and funds handling Saddam's wealth, according to the Coalition for International Justice, a nonprofit organization based in The Hague, Netherlands.


SAB'AWI IBRAHIM HASAN, believed to have fled: The middle half brother, Sab'awi was deputy chief of police in Iraq before Saddam demoted the three half brothers in 1983. As with the other two, he eventually regained Saddam's favor.

In 1989, Saddam appointed Sab'awi head of the Mukhabarat, the post Barzan had held until 1983. Sab'awi replaced Fadel Selfeeg, another Saddam cousin.

Sab'awi increased the range of the Mukhabarat until by 1990 the organization had a virtually unlimited budget and more than 100,000 staff and informers — all dedicated to keeping Saddam in power.


WATBAN IBRAHIM HASAN, captured earlier: The eldest half brother, he served as Iraq's interior minister in the early 1990s, during which he played a role in suppressing the Shiite Muslim rebellion in the south of the country.

U.S. officials said earlier this week that Watban had been captured near Mosul, apparently trying to flee to Syria.

Watban's first senior position in government was as chief of the Amnal-An, or internal security department, in the late 1980s. Saddam then appointed him head of the Estikhabarat or military intelligence.

In November 1991, Saddam unexpectedly named Watban interior minister. He went to southern Iraq to oversee the campaign to snuff out resistance by Shiite Muslim rebels who were holed up in the marshlands north of Basra.

By some reports, Saddam never had full confidence in Watban and kept a close watch on him. He dismissed Watban as interior minister in 1995, but retained him as a presidential adviser.