Originally created 03/15/03

Thumbnail sketches of Iraqi leaders



Prominent figures in Iraqi leadership:

SADDAM HUSSEIN

Born to peasant father on April 28, 1937, in village of al-Oja near desert town of Tikrit, north of Baghdad. Became president, prime minister, chairman of ruling Revolutionary Command Council and field marshal.

Violence long a part of Saddam's political strategy. Year after joining then underground Baath Socialist Party in 1957, he spent six months in prison for slaying of brother-in-law, a communist. In 1968, Baath Party took over in coup Saddam helped organize. Saddam pushed aside coup leader Gen. Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr to become president in July 1979, and hundreds of senior party members were imprisoned or executed.

After more than decade of sanctions and political isolation sparked by 1990 invasion of Kuwait and felt most sharply by ordinary Iraqis, Saddam remained defiant, predicting in televised speech to nation that Iraq would "no doubt emerge triumphant" against any U.S.-led war.

In country where family and hometown connections are paramount, Saddam has protected himself by grooming son as successor and surrounding himself with relatives and friends from Tikrit area.

Saddam and his wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah, have two daughters and three sons. Daughters and youngest son keep low profile. Saddam's wife is his cousin; he was raised by her late father, his uncle. Saddam's father died before he was born.

QUSAI SADDAM HUSSEIN

Saddam's second oldest son, whom he is believed to be grooming as successor. Qusai, 35, is powerful behind-the-scenes figure. Supervises Republican Guards, country's best-trained and equipped troops. Exiled critics of Saddam link Qusai to brutal crackdowns on regime's opponents.

Qusai, who studied law, married daughter of senior military commander and couple have three sons and quiet private life.

ODAI SADDAM HUSSEIN

Saddam's eldest son, 37, seemed strong candidate to succeed father before he was shot and badly wounded in 1996.

Has reputation for brutality, and has wounded and killed several men.

In contrast to Qusai, Odai known as womanizer with flamboyant wardrobe that runs from cowboy boots to flowing, gold-embroidered Arab robes.

Odai has seat in parliament; runs Iraq's most popular newspaper, Babil, and popular Youth TV channel; heads National Iraqi Olympic Committee.

ALI HASSAN AL-MAJID

Saddam's first cousin, linked to some of most brutal episodes of Saddam's regime.

Al-Majid led 1988 campaign against rebellious Kurds in northern Iraq in which thousands died, many in chemical attacks. Also linked to crackdowns on Shiites in southern Iraq. Was governor of Kuwait during Iraq's seven-month occupation of emirate in 1990-1991.

Is uncle of Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel al-Majid, Saddam's son-in-law who ran Iraq's clandestine weapons programs before defecting to Jordan in 1995 and who was lured back to Iraq and killed on uncle's orders.

Before 1968 revolution, al-Majid was motorcycle messenger in army. Under Saddam, was defense minister 1991-95.

ABED HAMEED HMOUD

Another Saddam cousin, who as president's personal secretary and former bodyguard been described as key figure after Saddam's two sons. Iraqi opposition figures say Hmoud among top 10 Iraqis who should go on trial for crimes against humanity.

In 1990s, Hmoud, in his 40s, was in charge of several security portfolios, including responsibility over places where Iraq has been accused of hiding weapons programs.

IZZAT IBRAHIM

Has known Saddam since early, underground days of Baath party and been deputy head of ruling council since Saddam seized power in 1979. One of few old comrades to survive Saddam's frequent purges, Ibrahim, 60, has presided on special tribunals that tried Saddam's opponents and issued death sentences.

Daughter married to Saddam's eldest son, Odai.

TAHA YASSIN RAMADAN

Vice president since March 1991 and considered as ruthless as Saddam. In 1970, headed revolutionary court that executed 44 officers for plotting to overthrow regime. During visit to Jordan in 1980s, was quoted as telling fundamentalists that Muslims were free to follow their faith, "but if they try to harm the Baathist regime or ridicule its slogans, the regime will break their necks!"

Born in 1938 in Mosul in northeastern Iraq, was bank clerk and later junior army officer, joined underground Baath in 1956 and became close to Saddam. Although considered less influential now, Ramadan high on list of regime figures that Iraqi opposition groups say should be tried.

TARIQ AZIZ

Deputy prime minister, only Christian in Iraqi leadership and one of Iraq's best known voices to world. Although one of Saddam's most loyal aides, like most non-Tikritis, has virtually no power.

Born in 1936 in Mosul, studied English literature at Baghdad College of Fine Arts, became teacher and journalist. Joined Baath in 1957, working closely with Saddam to overthrow British-imposed monarchy.

NAJI SABRI

Foreign minister since 2001, led failed negotiations with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan last year for return of weapons inspectors to Iraq. Has crisscrossed region seeking Arab support for Iraq.

Sabri thought to be close to Saddam's younger son Qusai, and Saddam likely values Sabri's loyalty and command of English. But for sensitive missions Saddam likely to pick relative or longtime aide rather than Sabri.

Born in 1948, Sabri rare figure in Iraqi politics: man who fell from grace without career ending. In 1980 was recalled from Iraqi Embassy in London when two brothers were jailed on conspiracy charges. One brother died in prison; other was freed after six years. Sabri ran English-language newspaper and arts journal in Baghdad for several years after scandal. By time of the Gulf War, he had been rehabilitated.

TAHA MUHIE-ELDIN MAROUF

Only Kurd in Baath hierarchy, vice president since 1975. Appointment as one of two vice presidents seen largely as gesture to Kurdish minority; he has little real power.

Born in 1924 into prominent family in Kurd-dominated northern Iraq, joined the Baath in 1968 and held several ministerial posts. Also has served as ambassador to Italy, Malta and Albania.

GEN. IYAD FUTIYEH AL-RAWI

Former chief of staff and Republican Guard commander now heads Fedayeen Saddam, paramilitary force. Staunch Saddam loyalist, was awarded 27 medals during 1980-88 war with Iran; was severely wounded in head leading counterattack against Iranian offensive.

SAADOON HAMMADI

Hammadi also recovered from fall from favor. U.S.-educated proponent of economic liberalization, developed reforms after 1980-88 war with Iran that were blocked by sudden collapse in oil prices in 1990.

After 1991 Gulf War, was named prime minister, but was ousted after seven months. Party insiders say Hammadi, non-Tikriti, was most outspoken in Saddam's circle. Since being rehabilitated and made parliament speaker in 1995, has shown none of old zeal for reform.

Born into wealthy family in 1930, Hammadi has doctorate in economics from University of Wisconsin.