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Uday Hussein recuperating, he tells CNN


Iraqi president's son speaks in first Western media interview

March 7, 1997
Web posted at: 10:15 p.m. EST (0315 GMT)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Last December, gunmen opened fire on Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday Hussein, as he sat in his car on a busy Baghdad street. He was shot about 10 times.

Since then, reports have swirled that Uday had gangrene, that he was partially paralyzed, that he would die unless he received medical treatment abroad.

But in his first interview with a Western news organization, the man sometimes considered Saddam's heir apparent told CNN that his wounds, though severe, are not permanent.

"I was hit many times in various parts of the body, including my right leg, and thank God I am recovering," said Uday, who remains hospitalized. "I was also severely wounded in my left leg. Iraqi and French doctors will conduct an operation shortly and, God willing, I will recover."

The interview, Uday's first since the shooting, was apparently granted to dispel speculation about his condition and to show he is recuperating. One British Sunday newspaper had even reported that he died after the attack.

Sitting in his hospital room, Uday told CNN his wounds are a source of pride and honor He cited a family history of wounds acquired in battle, ending with his father, wounded in an operation "for the party" in 1959.

"And now this has happened to me," he said.

Iran again blamed for the attack

Yet, he said, investigators have not yet caught the assailants. He dismissed reports by the opposition, based outside of Iraq, that the attack was a result of feuds within the ruling elite, calling the opposition "a group of ignorant people."

Hussein family photo

His family has suggested previously that Iran was behind the attack, and Uday hinted at that again. "Their faces were exposed ... they did not look like Arabs," he said.

"Arabs have beards like mine. Iranians have longer beards. In general, we can differentiate clearly between Arabs and Iranians."

Uday said more than a dozen attempts had been made on his life.

"The attack was nothing unusual. It could happen any time, because we are surrounded by countries, some of whom are hostile," none more so than Iran, he said. "Time has proved that Iran is involved in such incidents. Incidents such as this have occurred throughout the region, not just in Iraq."

Matters of state

He warned that Iran is growing in power, saying it is "not in the interests of the United States to increase hostility and hatred in the region."

Iran, he said, "is working seriously and rapidly to try to arm, not with conventional arms, not just to buy tanks and planes for defensive purposes. Their armament effort is aimed at the next century."

Uday also said he believes fellow Arab nations will work to get United Nations economic sanctions lifted, so his country can again trade with the rest of the world.

Correspondent Ben Wedeman contributed to this report.  

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