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08 January 2008


BBC Breakfast With Frost Interview: Latif Yahia, look-alike of Saddam Hussein's son on Sunday 15 June 2003.

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

Latif Yahia, look-alike of Saddam Hussein's son
Iraqi people hated Uday Saddam more than Saddam Hussein
DAVID FROST: We still don't know what happened to Saddam Hussein, from the end of the war onwards. The Americans are saying today they believe it may still be alive. Earlier they thought they'd killed him and his sons in a bomb attack on a restaurant in Baghdad. But the family employed numerous look-alikes and it's possible they escaped from the country - the family, not the look-alikes - maybe the look-alikes as well. Saddam's eldest son Uday was notorious for his brutality, but also for his enjoyment of a lavish, extraordinarily lavish and cruel lifestyle. Someone who knew him better than most was the man who had to work as his double, Latif Yahia, and he joins me now this morning. You were at school first of all, weren't you, with the eponymous Uday?

LATIF YAHIA: We was at secondary school together for three and a half years and after that I was like to go to be engineer. And I go to university and this three and a half years at secondary school we wasn't friends. You know, we say hello to each other, just I never liked him. Because he was doing a lot of horrible things in school.

DAVID FROST: Was he already behaving terribly?

LATIF YAHIA: He was, he was coming to school with his girlfriend. We have different system from the west and by the school and he was coming with a girlfriend and one day the teacher told him, you know, this is not allowed to do it. We never see the teacher again. Second thing, he was, you know, slagging the teacher off. He never did homework. He sit with his bodyguard beside him to do all his homework. He never did anything good in school. And when I go to university I saw him at the same university and ... I changed my university to the law, to not be with him again.

DAVID FROST: All right. Then how did he force his way back into your life?

LATIF YAHIA: In Iraqi law when you finish university you go to the military, you are not allowed to work before you get, before you do your military. And this moment was Iraq-Iran war and I was captain of special forces in Iraq-Iran war and they send a letter to my General asking him in 48 hours must Captain Yahia go back to Baghdad, to ¿Palace. And when I go, straight away I get this letter and they put me in a car, drive me inside the Palace. I said this is the end of my life because anybody who ends up inside here he never goes out. And I saw Uday again.

DAVID FROST: And he asked you, he told you, that you were becoming his double.

LATIF YAHIA: Yes, he was talking in the beginning, you know, how are you, how is your girlfriend. Straightaway he say what do you think to be Saddam's son? And I said we are all Saddam's sons and he said no, my fidi. Fidi in Arabic language is a body double. And I say can you explain more for me. He starts to explain what I must do and something, you know, I never heard about it. I was afraid. He said and you have a choice, we are a free country. You can say what you want to say and you can say yes and you can say no. And if you say yes all the power of Uday Saddam and this country is going to be yours. If you say no you will be free to go back to the military.

DAVID FROST: May be free to go back to the military. In fact, I think we've got some shots of you as, is that you or Uday?

LATIF YAHIA: That's me.

DAVID FROST: And did they in fact have to operate on you in any way, change you in any way to be like Uday?

LATIF YAHIA: Yes, after I refused to be Uday I was seven days in the prison in a small one-metre by one-metre, everything has been painted red, it was very, you know, especially the prison. After then I say yes because they break me, to rape my sister in front of me. And they did operation for my teeth, my chin, I change my teeth when I come to Europe, just, I have a couple of pictures here - my chin here (showing pictures). And I was shorter than that by three centimetres and I was using high shoes. The voice was same, the skin, the face, the shape of the face was same.

DAVID FROST: So did you actually have to do, I mean did you have to do the terrible things that Uday did?

LATIF YAHIA: No, this is what happened, You know, there was with me. I say everything you ask me I do, except rape or kill. And one time he asked me, you know, to shoot somebody. And I just picked the knife, it was food knife and I cut myself here and he say to me OK from here I don't ask you that. Just I wouldn't have thought a murder here.

DAVID FROST: Did you live in fear though, when you were working for him, because he was very sudden in his passions and he could have suddenly condemned you to death.

LATIF YAHIA: Iraqi people hated Uday Saddam more than Saddam Hussein. Because of that I get 11 assassination attempts on my life in Iraq and I survived, you know a couple were very serious, especially in the second Gulf War and Kuwait. He was joking, you know, he's kind of he don't have respect for anybody. Saddam Hussein or Qusay, the second son. You know sometimes they have respect for the people who work for them, you know, they give them a chance once or twice, and third time they'll punish them. Uday Saddam even he don't do something he blame you to do something to you.

DAVID FROST: And one last question. With your knowledge of him do you think if he's still alive, do you think he will ever be brought to justice or not?

LATIF YAHIA: I hope he will be brought to justice, you know. I was saying this since last month, I was saying Saddam Hussein alive. Uday Saddam he is alive. And I want justice. I don't want to hand him to American. I am going to be deal with Tariq Aziz. Tariq Aziz has been arrested. They did deal with Jordan to take his family and Britain. You know. In Britain they have respect, they have you know, respect for people. You see in South Iraq they don't have a problem with the British military. I have a problem with American, Americans are trained to humiliate the people, you know, and this is what the problem with the people start rising against Americans.

DAVID FROST: But do you think he will be found?

LATIF YAHIA: He will, yes.

DAVID FROST: He's alive?

LATIF YAHIA: Yes.

DAVID FROST: He will be found.

LATIF YAHIA: He's definitely alive, yes.

DAVID FROST: Thank you very much for being with us today.

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