Iraqi Red Crescent Says Hussein Brothers Buried in Tikrit

Published August 02, 2003

| Associated Press

The sons of Saddam Hussein, Uday and Qusay, were buried in the family cemetery in their hometown of Tikrit Saturday morning, the Iraqi Red Crescent Society and the U.S. military said.

Buried with the brothers was 14-year-old Mustafa Hussein, Qusay's son, who also was believed killed in a fierce gunbattle with U.S. troops July 22 in Mosul.

A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the funeral ceremony at the family cemetery was quiet and uneventful.

There were no outbursts of violence reported in the city.

Iraqi Red Crescent Society president Jamal al-Karboli said his organization had taken the bodies from the U.S. military in Tikrit. The military said it had nothing to do with the transfer of the bodies to Tikrit.

Al-Karboli said Saddam relatives approached the Red Crescent four days ago, asking it to act as an intermediary in recovering the bodies.

The bodies of the two men were being held in refrigeration at the U.S. base at Baghdad International Airport 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, the northernmost Iraqi big city.

The handling of the bodies, including autopsies conducted by the military, had set up 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 by the U.S. military morticians 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. The U.S. military obviously was trying 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.

The Tigris River city of Tikrit 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.

If the pair are buried in Tikrit, the military sources said, it was feared the gathering for the interment could get out of hand, with a huge backlash against the big U.S. troop presence in and around the city.

On July 29, in one of four audiotapes attributed to Saddam in just more than two weeks, the voice purporting to be the ousted dictator acknowledge the death of his sons and said he was glad they were martyrs to the cause of Iraq.

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