so much for "right of reply" and "freedom of Speech".
Critics claim a new film telling the 'true' story of the man who protected Saddam's son from assassins is based on a web of liesBy Jerome Taylor
They say some stories are too good to be true – although that has never stopped Hollywood. The Devil's Double is the latest blockbuster to stretch the limits of the phrase "based on a true story". But who cares, if it tells the gory tale of one of the most brutal psychopaths of the late 20th century?
Released in cinemas later this month, the film recounts the knuckle-whitening autobiography of Latif Yahia, the supposed body double to Saddam Hussein's psychotic younger son, Uday.
The British actor Dominic Cooper plays both roles and has won critical acclaim for his portrayal of a man who raped and murdered his way through Baghdad's high society – and also that of the poor sap who had to pretend to be such a maniac to protect him from the bullets of any would-be assassin. In recent years, though, growing numbers of Uday's inner circle have cast doubt on whether the story could be feasible.
With a strikingly similar face to Uday – who was gunned down by American special forces alongside his brother Qusay in July 2003 – Mr Yahia first emerged in Europe in the early 1990s with a remarkable claim that generated headlines around the world.
He told intelligence agents that he had lived a life of servitude as Uday's body double – and had turned on his master when Uday tried to kill him because a girlfriend had become overly flirtatious. Memoirs and international fame quickly followed.
There is little doubt that the tale Mr Yahia tells is perfect for the silver screen. According to his book, blog and media interviews, he was born into a wealthy family with close ties to Saddam's Ba'athist regime. Part of Baghdad's élite, he went to the same school as Uday, where friends commented on how similar in appearance he was to the Iraqi dictator's sadistic youngest son.
In September 1987 during the Iran-Iraq war, he was called back from the frontlines and told to go to Saddam's Baghdad palace, he has said.
"My superior had a distinct look of concern on his face when I entered the room," Mr Yahia later wrote. "I was taken from the front to my appointment, as I waited, my mind racing, questioning, never in my wildest dreams had it occurred to me the true reason behind my summoning."
Uday had decided to make him a body double. When Mr Yahia politely refused he was put in prison for a week and tortured. Upon his release he was told that unless he agreed to become Uday's doppelgänger his family would be killed and his sisters raped.
After rounds of plastic surgery, the transformation was complete. Mr Yahia said that between 1987 and 1991 that he was witness to some of Uday's worst excesses – his prowls through Baghdad at night looking for women to rape, his drug abuse, violent outbursts and penchant for torture. He also claims to have survived 12 attempted assassinations.
Mr Yahia thought of escaping only after Uday, angry that a girlfriend had started to openly flirt with the doppelgänger, tried to shoot him. Mr Yahia claims he fled to Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq and later to Austria with the help of the CIA.
Yet some of those who were in Uday's inner circle at the time have poured scorn on Mr Yahia's claims. Haytham Ajmaya, a 48-year-old Iraqi expat living in London, is one of them. He defected from Iraq in 1998 with the help of the British Government in exchange for information on Uday's inner circle, within which he had served for more than a decade. "Latif may have looked like Uday and talked like him but he was never Uday's body double," he told The Independent yesterday. "It's a real shame that Hollywood has decided to make a film based on rubbish rather than a film that is true to Iraq's history."
Mr Ajmaya claims that at most Mr Yahia was someone who used his close resemblance to Uday to secure money and girls in Iraq and was in fact arrested by police for doing just that. In January, a writer from The Sunday Times tracked down a further three members of Uday's inner circle who cast doubt on Mr Yahia's claim, as well as Saddam's plastic surgeon, who said no operation had been carried out on a body double.
My Yahia did not respond to The Independent's requests for comment yesterday but when confronted earlier this year about the remarks by Uday's former friends, he said: "I was Uday's double. Uday didn't have friends; he had pimps, drug dealers, hangers on, etc. Either I am psychic to know about inside palaces, bunkers and all the rest of the places... or I was actually there. I know the truth."
Toby Dodge, a historian at Queen Mary, University of London who specialises in modern Iraq and has interviewed members of Saddam's regime, says that separating fact from fiction in Ba'athist Iraq is notoriously difficult. "The regime had always been shrouded in mythology," he said yesterday.
Meanwhile, Lee Tamahori, the New Zealand-born director of The Devil's Shadow, remains unfazed by the allegations. "Biopics are not my favourite movies because they always try to steer too close to the facts," he writes. "But the truth doesn't set you free in movies. Truth layered with fiction sets you free."
This is my response to the article:
To the Writer of this article, firstly I find the fact that you have written that Uday was the "Younger" son of Saddam Hussein hilarious, secondly you haven't even been able to get the title of the film right it is "The Devil's Double" not The Devil's Shadow unless Lee Tamahori was working on another movie with Dominic Cooper. Getting these two well known and important facts wrong, leads me to believe that you either did NO research, or just collated information and old articles that you found on the net.
You quote Haytham Ajmaya as a source in Uday's inner circle, a man who in the Sunday Times article admits to have being a Pimp for Uday , but says that just because he brought women to a man that he knew was Sadistic and violent and has sold himself to Britain as you openly say in your article, is trustworthy. You might find the Arabic meaning of his name Ajmaya (Iranian Woman) interesting. As for your other or should I say Ed Caesar's sources, I have tackled their credibility in a blog that I wrote last April you may find it on my website.
Any man that can sell women, then sell himself and his country can sell anything and anybody even if it is false, the British government have been paying Ajmaya for years and have made him a British citizen, (as far as I have seen over the past 20 years the West loves these kind of people) who is paying him now for this supposed information? If Haytham Ajmaya or any of the others that are relied upon had anything to say before, they didn't, my book was first published in 1994, I have written others, I have a blog, a website, why is it just now that they come out of the woodwork? Because there is a movie? Well then, since they were so close to Uday why didn't they get their story told? Maybe because the powers that be know the blood that is on their hands? What kind of story would they tell? Maybe they could tell how they brought women to Uday knowing full well what he did with them, or how they themselves murdered and raped girls.
As for Haytham's assertion that I was just impersonating Uday to get girls and make money, that at one time Uday found out and just laughed. Well, Iraq would have been a much nicer place if Uday had been so easy going! Does Haytham also assert that all the girls that came forward as rape victims of Uday are liars?, the football players?, the athletes that he tortured?, or is it personal?
As for Saddam's plastic surgeon, well he stitched the Hymens of the girls and did plastic surgeries on the wounds that they incurred if they survived a night in Uday's arms, he admitted it in one of his TV interviews, (he omitted to mention the hymens) Ask any ordinary Iraqi, they know he was fired from his position and prohibited from practicing medicine, once Saddam found out, which is why he returned to painting.
Am I surprised that The Independent has written an article like this about me? No. Why? because I included the owner of the Independent, Tony O'Reilly in one of my blogs recently, I really don't think that you can call the Independent, Independent.
I am not in hiding like my accusers, I have clean hands and am not afraid of the spotlight, unlike Haytham Ajmaya or Dhafir Mohamed Jabir.
As I have learned over the years from dealing with the Intelligence agencies, never trust information you pay for, because to keep the money coming they have to keep giving you information, in the end they make it up to keep the money rolling in.
As the Middle East is having it's uprising so it will spread across the world, because although the West has the illusion of Democracy, people understand more and more each day that they are being fed mis-information and the ideology of the newspaper owners, Murdoch himself has openly said, No political party could attain power if he and his media empire were not behind them. The same is true of Tony O'Reilly in Ireland, just ask Fianna Gael political party in 1997.
Was I contacted for a comment by the Independent? Yes my agent was, but knowing who they work for etc, I don't give comments or interviews to papers I can wipe my arse with. The same is true for The Sunday Times.
This reaction or comment may not be published under the original article on the Independent's website, so I am copying the article and my response and putting it all on my blog, because I'm a man not a coward like the Journalist and the Independent's owner, we will all see how long newspapers like these last, I think not so long.
My article last April: Click the Link