Latif Yahia, the former body double of Saddam Hussein's eldest and most notorious son Uday, talked to AOL about his horrifying experiences during the dictator's reign.
Yahia was recruited as Uday's double in the 1980s, while completing his compulsory national service. He received a chilling letter requesting his presence at the presidential palace. "Anyone going to the republican palace never gets out." he told AOL in the video above.
Uday, who Yahia knew from secondary school, offered him a choice: return to the army or serve as his fiday -- his body double. Yahia chose the former, yet was imprisoned upon denying Uday's request. "They drove me to a small cell ... I spent nearly seven days there ... and after that Uday came to me, to the cell, and said 'Do you accept the job or do I bring your sisters here?'"
Yahia gave in. He underwent cosmetic surgery, learned to move and act like Saddam's son and pretended to be him in public for the next four years.
Yahia's story was told in the recent film the Devil's Double. "I want to tell my story to the world, as an example to everybody. Don't let any government rule your life," he explained.
Yet the Iraqi also had a political message. When he learned in 2003 that Uday was killed alongside his brother by American forces, he was disappointed. "I was very angry because i wanted to see Uday Saddam in court," he told AOL. "I wanted to stand up outside the court, inside the court, and say to the judge: 'Look at my body. Look at this man and what he did to me. This man, he killed my personality... I wanted justice.'"
To Western governments, he said: "Would you please leave us alone and stop supporting all these dictatorships. You've supplied and supported them for thirty and forty years in our countries."