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Iraqi residents get unprecedented view of Saddam's dead sons to
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Their faces covered in morticians' makeup, patches of hair sprouting from their scalps, two bodies were displayed to journalists Friday in a further attempt by American occupation authorities to convince skeptical Iraqis that Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusai are really dead.
Meanwhile, the hunt for their father intensified, with the arrests of 13 men believed to include some of Saddam's bodyguards in a raid near the former leader's hometown, Tikrit, the U.S. Army announced Friday.
"We continue to tighten the noose," said Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division. U.S. officials have expressed hope that the killings of Odai and Qusai would weaken the anti-American resistance and lead coalition forces to Saddam himself.
Arab satellite media and CNN broadcast images of the bodies throughout Iraq and the Arab world. The corpses appeared markedly changed from the autopsy-style photographs released a day earlier. The thick beards -- grown, officials said, during 3 1/2 months on the run -- were now shaved and trimmed; their faces rebuilt and a gash gone from the face of the body identified as Odai.
The display appeared to be a calculated gamble by coalition authorities, who may have produced more convincing evidence but who also offended Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere by altering the bodies and delaying burial.
"Showing dead and deformed bodies on TV is not acceptable," protested Amer Ahmed al-Azawi, a 55-year-old Baghdad merchant. "But the Americans are criminals and unbelievers. We got rid of one tyrant, and we ended up with a bigger one."
Hamza Mansour, secretary-general of the Islamic Action Front in neighboring Jordan, said the display violated Islamic custom.
"The bodies of Odai and Qusai should have been washed, shrouded and buried immediately, but the Americans have no respect for our traditions and doctrine and they acted in a very unethical manner," he said.
U.S. officials say Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, were killed Tuesday in a gunbattle with U.S. troops, who raided a villa in the northern city of Mosul, directed there by an Iraqi tipster. Two other Iraqis in the house also were killed, apparently a bodyguard and Qusai's teenage son Mustafa.
The raid near Tikrit came Thursday night after U.S. troops again received a tip from an Iraqi, Odierno said.
Five to 10 of the 13 people captured were believed to be members of Saddam's personal security detail, he said, adding that it was too early to tell if the guards had been with the deposed Iraqi leader recently or could help lead Americans to him.
American forces also have questioned one of Saddam's two wives, he said.
While the graphic photographs released Thursday showed bruised and bloodied faces, the bodies that lay on gurneys in a tent at Baghdad International Airport resembled more closely the way Odai and Qusai looked in life.
Their faces were reconstructed by morticians and medical personnel, a common practice in the West and not a bid to fool Iraqis, according to a doctor involved in the autopsy, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. civilian administration in Baghdad called the showing unprecedented. It drew camera crews from Arab satellite broadcasters Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, as well as the coalition-linked Iraqi Media Network. An Associated Press reporter was at the viewing.
There were apparently no plans for a public display of the bodies, but members of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council of prominent Iraqis had been there Thursday. Four former members of the ousted regime identified the bodies Wednesday.
With Blackhawk and Apache helicopters thundering overhead, the viewing was a grisly affair.
Where the Thursday photographs showed a long gash down the face of the man said to be Odai, reconstruction made him appear unblemished but pale. His beard was reduced to the permanent shadow for which he was known. The beard of the corpse said to be Qusai was shaved, leaving only the familiar mustache seen in most pictures.
Both men's eyes were closed, lips pursed, almost tranquil, almost sleeping.
The rest of their bodies were a maze of bullet holes -- more than 20 each -- severe burns, black-and-blue bruises and scars from previous surgeries. Their chests had been opened, but sutured back in a neat, Y-shape. Their genitals were covered with blue surgical cloths. Inside the air-conditioned tent, the odor of embalming fluid was heady.
Doctors said Qusai had two bullet wounds to his head, but said those were likely from the barrage fired into the villa in Mosul, 240 miles north of the capital, Baghdad.
"We do not believe he killed himself," one of them said.
Odai was killed when debris struck his head with extreme force, resulting in the gash, officials said. He had no bullet wounds to his head.
There was an incision on the left leg of the man said to be Odai where doctors removed a plate that had been inserted after a 1996 assassination attempt. The plate, still attached to the bone, lay wrapped in a plastic bag, sawed from the leg. The leg was limp, the foot at an odd angle.
Military medical personnel, including doctors, forensic experts and morticians, said they had examined every part of the corpses, combing the bodies for details that could confirm they were whom U.S. officials said they were.
Using dental records seized from unknown locations that go back 15 years, medical records and the serial and model number of the steel plate in the left leg, they said they were sure the men were Odai and Qusai. All the medical personnel spoke only on condition of anonymity.
All that remains now, they said, are the final results of the DNA testing being done at a military lab in Washington, which could be completed as soon as next week. A final report on the deaths is expected in about six weeks.
Doctors said the bodies would remain at the morgue, kept in refrigerated storage, until a family member claims them.