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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Brothers Personified Brutality

Though very different from each other yet equally despised and feared by Iraqis, Odai and Qusai Hussein, Saddam's two eldest sons, personified the terror of their father's rule.

Individually and together, Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, represented the future of the Hussein government. As a result, they were intensively hunted by American military forces in Iraq, appearing respectively as No. 3 and No. 2 on the allies' list of most-wanted people from the former government. On July 3, the U.S. military put a reward of $15 million each on their heads, and offered $25 million for their father.

Qusai Hussein, who was believed to be his father's chosen successor, headed Iraq's intelligence and security services, including the Republican Guard and its elite units that were responsible for protecting the leadership. Former UN weapons inspectors said he was also responsible for overseeing Iraq's unconventional weapons.

Stephen Black, a former inspector and chemical weapons expert, said that by virtue of his control of the security services, Qusai would have known, for instance, "whether they had chemical weapons, how many they had, and where they were deployed."

Characterized by Iraqi defectors as quiet and sly, but very brutal, Qusai stayed out of the public eye, in sharp contrast to his older brother, whose greed and violent rampages were the stuff of many legends, often based in fact, circulating throughout Iraqi society.

Human Rights Watch and other experts have said that Qusai implemented the revenge killings and terror after the uprising that followed the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The same sources say he also engineered the draining of the southern marshes after the 1991 attack on Iraq to eliminate the reeds in which insurgents had taken refuge. The draining of the marshes ended a centuries-old way of life for marsh Arabs.

The rights group also accused him of supervising the "cleansing" of overcrowded prisons by killing several thousand prisoners by gunshots or torture.

In 2000, Saddam Hussein gave Qusai effective control of the army, and just before the U.S.-led invasion this year, charged him with defending Baghdad.

The brothers were intense rivals, and Odai's resentment of his younger brother grew as his own power waned following an assassination attempt in 1996 that left him with a bullet in his spine and partly crippled.

Iraqi exiles agreed that Odai Hussein, the eldest of five children, personified the government's random brutality. Human rights groups and Iraqi exiles accused him of routinely kidnapping women off the streets, raping and sometimes torturing them, and personally supervising the torture and humiliation of hundreds of prisoners. Such conduct earned him the title "Abu Sarhan," the Arabic term for "father of the wolf."

Odai's violent, erratic behavior led his father to banish him to Switzerland for a time, but Odai returned and gradually reclaimed some power. For a time, he owned Babel, Iraq's most widely circulated daily newspaper, and Youth TV.

But he was most infamous for his stewardship of his country's National Olympic Committee. Since Hussein's government collapsed in April, former Iraqi sportsmen have come forward to tell journalists of Odai's cruelty -- his routine torturing and jailing of athletes, particularly those who lost important matches, or games that he attended.

Odai was also known for his collection of luxury cars at his mini-palace in Baghdad, where U.S. troops were also said to have found a personal preserve of rare animals and a veritable trove of cigars and alcohol.

Odai gradually won a vote of confidence from his father by creating the Fedayeen, paramilitary units that attacked U.S. and coalition forces fighting their way north toward Baghdad.