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Two of the most feared men in Iraq

Published Jul. 23, 2003|Updated Sep. 1, 2005

IN LINE FOR POWER: Qusay Hussein, responsible for mass killings after the 1991 war, held his father's trust.

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.

Quiet, handsome and every bit as brutal as Hussein, the 37-year-old Qusay headed Iraq's intelligence and security services, his father's personal security force and the Republican Guard, 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. 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.

An exiled dissident told the Associated Press that only Qusay and Hussein's private secretary, Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, who was captured in June, were kept informed of Hussein'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 Persian Gulf War of 1991. But he was a leading figure of terror in the conflict's aftermath, using mass executions and torture to crush the Shiite Muslim uprising.

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

Qusay 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, Human Rights Watch in New York said several thousand inmates were executed at Iraq's prisons over the past several years.

Prisoners were often killed with a bullet to the head, but one witness told the London human rights group INDICT that inmates were sometimes murdered by being dropped into shredding machines.

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.

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