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Saddam Hussein’s elder son, Uday, was a man widely feared and loathed by the Iraqi people.
Famously cruel and violent, he had a reputation for raping schoolgirls and newly married brides, and reportedly once killed a member of his staff in front of a room full of party guests.
Latif Yahia attended the same school as Uday, and was noticed by the Hussein family for a particular trait — he looked a lot like Uday.
At the age of 23, Latif was informed that he was to become Uday’s body double. Refusal was not an option.
He underwent extensive training and plastic surgery to make their appearances more similar, and suffered numerous assassination attempts before fleeing to Austria in 1992.
Lee Tamahori’s The Devil’s Double explores Latif’s traumatic experiences in the inner circle of a regime from which he is one of the few survivors. FPS talks to Latif and British actor Dominic Cooper, who took on the challenging double role of both, Latif and Uday.
Having heard the news on the 13th of September that Tony Blair was receiving the Liberty Medal for his “Critical role in advancing peace in Northern Ireland, the Middle East and his steadfast commitment to conflict resolution” I sat back in my chair and wondered whether I had fallen into a parallel universe.
Actually, to be very honest it is not the first time that I have visited this parallel universe. I visit it every time a world leader/politician who while in office, used force against another sovereign state and once out of office decided to ‘work for peace’ and was given medals or awards for it!
Now of course Tony Blair did do some good and nice things while he was in office, but for me it will always be overshadowed by his decision to follow Bush into Iraq. There are a lot of things that I could say about the decisions taken, but I think that the hardest part for me to accept Blair’s reasons for going in, was his strong belief that Saddam was a threat and he needed to be removed for ‘stability’ in the region. Saddam never threatened the UK and indeed it was proven then and is repeatedly proven to this day that even if he did have the desire, he certainly did not have the capability.
I don’t think that anyone would or could say that Iraq or the middle east is a more stable region now either, in fact the opposite is true, Iran now rules Iraq. This is shown by the fact that Noori Al-Maliki (Iranian backed Shia) refuses doggedly to hand over the reigns of power to his successor Aiyad Alawi (backed by US and UK), whom I might add was DEMOCRATICALLY elected, something that was also purportedly a very important reason for de
Mr. Blair now gives motivational speeches on tolerance between faiths, works towards improving governance in Africa and Brokers peace talks between Israel and Palestine. Noble causes indeed, but would it not have been better for Mr. Blair to lead by example while in office?
Since Tony Blair left not only Downing street but government he has made many changes, he converted to Catholicism, he is donating the proceeds from his book sales to the British Legion, he formed the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and has become a Peace Ambassador, is he fulfilling lifelong dreams or trying to atone for many of the decisions he made in the past ten years?
What I also found amusing and ironic was that Bill Clinton presented this award to Tony, now for those of you that don’t know, Mr. Clinton had a daily bombing campaign, yes, each day or every other day, from 1993 until he/Monica finished his time in office he would drop bombs on Iraq and he also imposed the ‘no fly zone’. Some might also say that Bill paved the way for Bush’s invasion when he had the ‘Iraqi Freedom’ law passed in Congress in 1998. But now Bill also works for Peace.
So here we have Bill who used to just bomb Iraq giving the Liberty Medal to Tony who went one better and actually invaded it! It makes you wonder what award they have ready for George W. Bush? A Nobel Peace Prize? Maybe not, seemingly seven of the recipients of the Liberty Medal have gone on to receive a Nobel Prize, Tony may have that one in the bag too.
Politics is a dirty sticky business, those who want the power do what it takes, whatever that happens to be at the time, but when their time is over, see the error of their ways and spend the rest of their lives trying to make amends and give their friends jobs helping them to make amends. Why don’t we find a way to stop this cycle? Why is it that leaders have to do it this way? Can they not just ‘do good’ for their people from the start? Or is it that what is good and right is not what is profitable or powerful? Are they really our leaders or is someone else pulling the strings?
This video proves that we were all fooled and foolish to believe the propaganda pushed upon us from 2001 until this day. Nothing has “Changed for good” or bad. It is easy to forget or be bored by listening to the reasons that we were given for War, but if we do not learn from our mistakes we are doomed to repeat them. The next wars will not be for oil, but water, watch out Canada!
Listen and remember. We now know that all the reasons that we were given for war were lies, Regime change in Iraq was the only reason for the Invasion in 2003, as Saddam was tried and hanged for his crimes against Iraq so now should the perpetrators of the lies be brought to account, it is not just the lives of the Iraqi people that have been irrevocably changed, but the lives of many Americans, Britons and all the other Nations led by America on this fools errand. It is not enough to say”oh well, we’re there now, we must continue and support our troops” If your government really were concerned about your troops they would have kept to their own rule “Never to put a single soldier in harms way without good cause”.
By Latif Yahia
How much we have progressed in the last century, the technological breakthroughs have been endless. Most of it in thanks to Military research, believe it or not. Of all the wonders that military funding has brought us, the world wide web is probably the best, but more than likely, the one that they rue the most. Why? Because the day that the www went live was the day that they lost control of it, and since that day they have been fighting to get it back.
Of course, that is impossible, no one can control the internet, it is as varied and rich in information as it’s users. Anything you want to find out you can do with a good search engine, catch up with old school chums? Tick! Meet interesting singles? Tick again! Want to watch a TV show, you betcha’! But the most popular thing to do is ‘make friends’, there are many social sites MySpace, Bebo, Hi5 and probably the most well known and in some cases loved, is Facebook.
I started using Facebook about a year ago, I was a myspace user and had a good amount of friends and was happy enough there. Then my friends from myspace started to migrate over to Facebook, I started hearing all this ‘buzz’ on the TV and online from people, Facebook this and Facebook that. Suddenly, it came to a point where if I wanted to keep in touch with anyone I had to have a Facebook account, in some ways I felt I was forced, like some ultimate peer pressure, you weren’t “cool” if you weren’t on Facebook. I’ve never had a problem with being “cool” I don’t know if I am “cool” have been “cool” or even want to be, but I was swept along with the tide and I opened my Facebook account.
Immediately I was bombarded with friend requests, some had been friends on other sites, some were friends of friends and others were people that had an interest in my story and finally had a point of contact with me. It took up a lot of time. It’s hard to make 2,000+ friends! Well, it’s not as hard to make that amount of friends as it is to answer everyone, send gifts, playfarmville, answer friend requests and do all the other things that you are encouraged to do, it really is no wonder that companies were finding they were losing working hours to people logging into their Facebook accounts.
It was designed that way.
Facebook was designed to be addictive, even the way it was marketed by word of mouth was designed to make you believe that it must be fantastic if people were getting fired from their jobs for the amount of time they spent on their page.
But all is not as it seems, let’s all take a step back here, let’s pretend we are just sitting on a park bench watching the world go by…. Relaxed? Ok.
As we sit here people watching, what do we see? A man jogging, a woman walking her dog, kids playing, people sitting chatting, sharing a joke. But what do we really know about these people? Nothing, we see their height, approx weight, hair colour and we can make assumptions about other factors, age, occupation etc. But what if we can get all these people who are in the same place to start giving us this information? If you walked up to any one of these people and started asking them ten different personal questions, they would immediately become suspicious, and if you told them that they needed to give you this information so that they could use the park that they are already in, what do you think their answer would be? What would your answer be?
So why then is it that we so freely hand over this information to websites like Facebook? Do we really know what it does with this information and have any of us really read the terms and conditions? All 26 pages? I have tried to set up my own version of these sites, one that is more dedicated to debate and freedom of speech, it is one of the most difficult things that I have ever tried to do, you need to be powered by one of the big search engines and basically have their backing, so what makes one idea better than the other? Or maybe I should ask what was the other site willing to trade that I wasn’t? Access to your information and your computer, so effectively, access to your life. Imagine you were an intelligence agency, what better way of harvesting information, it’s given freely, nobody feels threatened so there is a less likely chance that the information is lies, especially when you make the site about finding people and being found.
I was sent an email a few months ago by a friend on Facebook, he sent the same mail to all his friends, it said that his computer had been scanned completely by Facebook and all his personal files copied, and as a result he would be closing his account immediately, he was a Zionist, not Arab, not Middle-eastern or what we might consider to be “Terrorist” material. Not a Facist or white supremacist but someone who believed in the God given right of Israel to have lands, proving that you can have friends and not necessarily agree with every word that they say.
He did indeed close his account, and shortly after I started to delve into his accusations, then, BANG! I came down one morning to find I no longer had a Facebook account! I received a message when I tried to log in telling me that my account had been disabled but nothing more. I tried contacting Facebook to ask for a reason, no reply, I tried to look on the help pages for reasons, that didn’t work either. I put “actions that will disable Facebook account” and other variations of the same into google, NOTHING! I have no comeback, no right of reply, no answers.
What I do have is 2,000+ Facebook friends that have no idea what has happened to me, some have sent me messages through my private email (which had also been hacked and my computer files infected I might add), or another site, many were upset as they thought that I had removed them from my friends list, definitely not the case. So to any of my former Facebook friends that may be reading this, my apologies, it was out of my control.
Having said that I am glad that it happened, after these events could you really call it coincidence? There are of course people that will say “Oh, there he goes with his conspiracy fairytales again!” All that I have to say to that is, my “fairytales” have never been as good as your government’s.
Actor Dominic Cooper has spoken of the challenge of playing Saddam Hussein’s son in Iraq thriller The Devil’s Double.
The Mama Mia star has a dual role in the film, playing both Uday Hussein and Latif Yahia – a man who was forced to be his body double.
The film, directed by Lee Tamahori, finished shooting in Malta last month.
“It’s quite a horrible part,” admitted Cooper, who was speaking at this week’s National Movie Awards.
“It was a difficult challenge, trying to understand who this guy was and why he did such unbelievably terrible things, and then to play this innocent guy who he forced at gunpoint to be his body double.”
The film is based on Latif Yahia’s biographical novel of the same name. Yahia was made to undergo plastic surgery to his teeth and chin to make him look more like Uday.
When the Gulf War started in 1991, he was sent out to the front line in order to give the impression that Uday was with the troops.
Cooper said of his role: “I do have to wear some prosthetics to change my face.”
The film also stars French actress Ludivine Sagnier as Sarrab, Uday’s concubine.
Tamahori’s past projects include his Maori story Once Were Warriors (1994) and James Bond film Die Another Day (2002).
Dominic Cooper as Uday Hussein
By: Damon Wise
As The Hurt Locker gears up for the Oscars and Green Zone nears release, a new kind of Iraq movie is being filmed in Malta, one with a very different focus. Starring An Education’s Dominic Cooper in a dual role, The Devil’s Double tells the true story of Latif Yahia, an Iraqi soldier who was forced to become a stand-in/decoy for Uday Hussein, the insane son of ruling tyrant Saddam.
Set in 1987, the film promises to be a middle-eastern Scarface-style gangster thriller, in which Yahia is thrown headlong into a world of outrageous opulence and raw, vicious violence – although, in this case, the fiction might not quite match the truly absurd reality. “We’re telling a soft story compared to what I’ve heard about this guy,” says director Lee Tamahori, who knows this turf, having helmed the OTT Bond movie Die Another Day and the gritty Kiwi gang drama Once Were Warriors. The gangster element, however, is just one element of the story being told here. “Everybody likes gangsters,” says Tamahori, “and there’s no doubt that Uday is gonna drive right over the top of the story, but at the core we have an innocent man, a kidnapped soldier, who’s been dragged into this situation, which is equally compelling. So you’ve got these two characters playing off each other.
“On the one hand, it’s about a guy, Uday, who’s in love with himself. He has a mad, Oedipal complex – his father doesn’t love him, and we all know who his father is! He can’t have the respect that he wants from his father, and he’s wildly out of control: guns, money, women, death. There’s something extremely volatile about that. And then we’ve got this other guy, Latif, who came into this situation as an innocent and actually got himself out of it. So it’s about an innocent man being dragged into a hellish environment, trying to maintain a decency and an equilibrium, then trying to escape from it.”
We can expect to see the finished Devil’s Double sometime late this year or early next.
Malta set for film on Hussein’s body-double
A Belgian film company will soon start shooting a biopic on the body-double of Uday Hussein, the sadistic son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The film will be directed by Lee Tamahori, famous for his 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day and Next (2007), which had starred Nicholas Cage.
The Devil’s Double, which is due to start filming in January, is a thriller based on a true story about the man forced to become the Uday’s dead-ringer. Latif Yahia, an Iraqi army lieutenant stationed on the Iranian border, was summoned to Saddam Hussein’s inner sanctum where he was given a choice: become the body double of Uday, or die.
The Devil’s Double provides unique insight into a closed society revealing the horrors of Saddam’s tyrannical regime from the inside while providing a chilling portrait of the man whom many considered to be Saddam’s heir apparent.
Yahia will be played by English actor Dominic Cooper, who had also played the character of Sky in the 2008 musical Mamma Mia. Prolific French actress Ludivine Sagnier is said to be in talks with the production company for a role in the same film.
Film industry sources told MaltaToday that the Belgian company Corsan is still looking at different locations where to shoot in Malta, and that although the island has been confirmed as the destination for filming, exact locations are not yet known. Corsan is still in the process of casting key people for the movie.
Latif Yahia interview with HARDtalk is scheduled to broadcast on BBC ,
The full interview with Latif Yahia will be broadcast on HARDtalk on Wednesday 2nd December 2009.
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