Obituary: Qusay Saddam Hussein

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Qusay Hussein, Saddam Hussein's younger son, held wide-ranging powers over the nation's ruthless security apparatus that made him one of the most feared men in Iraq.

Qusay was No. 2 on the U.S.-led coalition forces' list of the 55 most wanted men from the former Iraqi regime, behind only his father. He was also on a Bush administration list of regime members who could be tried for war crimes.

The two brothers, who each were sought with $15 million rewards, died in a shootout with American soldiers Tuesday in northern Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of coalition troops in Iraq, announced.

Quiet, handsome and every bit as brutal as Saddam, the 37-year-old Qusay headed Iraq's intelligence and security services, his father's personal security force and the Republican Guard (search), an elite force of 80,000 soldiers responsible for defending Baghdad.

He stayed out of the public eye and led a substantially more subdued private life than his older brother Uday, who collected luxury cars by the hundreds and had a habit of ordering his guards to snatch young women off the street in order to rape them. Iraqis nicknamed Qusay "The Snake" for his bloodthirsty but low-profile manner.

Qusay was far more trusted by his father and appeared to be his heir before the regime crumbled. In televised meetings with top security and military men, Qusay was seated next to his father, wearing well-tailored suits and dutifully noting his father's every word.

An exiled dissident told The Associated Press that only Qusay and Saddam's private secretary, Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti (search), who was captured in June, were kept informed of Saddam's whereabouts. Uday was thought to be too reckless to be trusted with such information.

Experts do not believe Qusay played a significant role in the Gulf War of 1991 (search). But he was a leading figure of terror in the conflict's aftermath, using mass executions and torture to crush the Shiite Muslim uprising after that war.

Qusay also helped engineer the destruction of the southern marshes in the 1990s, an action aimed at Shiite "Marsh Arabs" living there.

The marshes — roughly 3,200 square miles — had provided the necessities of life for tens of thousands of marsh dwellers for at least 1,000 years. The area was destroyed through a large-scale water diversion project intended to remove the ability of insurgents to hide there.

Qusay also oversaw Iraq's notorious detention centers and is believed to have initiated "prison cleansing" — a means of relieving severe overcrowding in jails with arbitrary killings.

Citing testimony from former Iraqi intelligence officers and other state employees, New York-based Human Rights Watch said several thousand inmates were executed at Iraq's prisons over the past several years.

Prisoners were often eliminated with a bullet to the head, but one witness told the London-based human rights group Indict that inmates were sometimes murdered by being dropped into shredding machines. Some prisoners went in head first and died quickly, while others were put in feet first and died screaming. The witness said that on at least one occasion, Qusay supervised shredding-machine murders.

On another occasion, a witness said, an inmate's foot was cut off in a prison torture room while Qusay was present.

"The amputation had been carried out with a power saw during his torture under the direct supervision of Qusay ," the witness told Indict.

Qusay was made chief of the army branch for the ruling Baath party in 2000, meaning virtually all the army's movements were under his supervision. Just before this year's war began, he was put in charge of defending the nation's capital and heartland.

Qusay was spared any real combat during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, although state television showed him conferring with commanders. He did not do any of the compulsory military service required of most Iraqi men.

Qusay wed the daughter of a respected senior military commander. The couple, who later separated, had two daughters. U.S. officials said a teenager killed with Qusay may have been his son.