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Uday, Qusay win sympathy in death

By Rym Brahimi
CNN Correspondent

Uday Qusay
Uday and Qusay Hussein were killed in a raid in the northern city of Mosul.

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Viewer discretion advised: Graphic footage of what the U.S. says are the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons
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Viewer discretion advised: Graphic photos of what the U.S. says are the bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein.
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Gallery: Photos released by the United States as evidence of the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein  (These images are very graphic and difficult to view and are not recommended for children and some adults. Viewer discretion is advised.)
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- When Ahmed al Rahdi was the captain of Iraq's national soccer team, Uday Hussein ran all the sports programs.

Al Rahdi says he was given gifts and money when the team won -- and tortured and jailed whenever they played poorly.

But with Uday dead, al Rahdi says he has put the bad things behind him

"He could have given himself up but he chose to die rather than surrender," al Rahdi says. "When I saw the body and the pictures, I began to sympathise with him."

Despite Uday's cruelty toward him, he says he probably would have agreed to hide Saddam's son in his house if he'd been asked to. It's a question of honor, he says.

"We Iraqis use strong, cruel words, we talk of revenge. But when an opponent is weak, this anger turns into remorse or sympathy -- we want to help that person."

Al Rahdi says he believes Uday died a martyr but admits he would not have felt the same way had Iraqis, not U.S. soldiers, killed Saddam's son.

"Just as he was cruel to people, he deserved to be treated by them with cruelty," he says.

It's an illustration of the complex relationship between Iraqis, their torturers and the occupying power -- the United States. Nothing is easy here -- even the killing of tyrants is controversial.

"Don't tell me the Americans couldn't take them prisoners, they can throw tear gas, sleeping gas," says one Iraqi man. "They should be brought to justice, not simply by killing them."

Most Iraqis celebrated with gunfire the night they heard of the deaths of Uday and his brother Qusay Hussein.

But the sight of their battered bodies on television shocked many. Islamic law says they should be buried as soon as possible after death.

"We are a Muslim country, therefore there should be kindness and compassion among us, so they should be buried regardless of what they did to people," says another Iraqi man.

Ezzedine Al Majid says Uday and Qusay killed his wife and four children, as well as his cousins -- who were married to Saddam's two daughters.

"I heard that they had not been buried and realized it was a humanitarian issue which greatly influences the feelings of people," al Majid says.

In a letter, al Majid warned the U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, how urgent it is to bury the bodies -- and that, as a cousin of Saddam, he wanted to bury them in Tikrit, where the family cemetery is.

"It's a moral and humanitarian obligation, from those very same new modern, traditional and value-based principles that you are trying to instill in our wounded country," al Majid wrote.

For now, the U.S. military has demolished the house where they killed the brothers -- afraid, some say, that those loyal to the memory of the fallen tyrants would turn it into a shrine.

But days after the death of Saddam's two sons in a raid in the northern city of Mosul, coalition authorities have yet to decide what to do with their bodies.

It looks to be an increasingly difficult -- and strategic -- decision.


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