Archiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-01 > 1169304333

From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [W-OBITS] al TIKRITI: Barzan al Tikiriti 15/1/2007
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2007 06:45:33 -0800

Barzan al-Tikriti
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 16/01/2007

Barzan al-Tikriti, who was hanged yesterday aged 55, was a half-brother of
Saddam Hussein and had been Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations in
Geneva; as such, he was his country's permanent representative to the UN
Commission on Human Rights - a paradoxical role, given that he was also
credited with refining Iraq's Mukhabarat secret service into a sophisticated
instrument of torture and repression.

As head of the Mukhabarat from 1979 to 1983, Barzan was said to have been
responsible for the deaths of thousands of Iraqis; on a more personal level,
he was accused of shooting one of his agents who had bought a duty-free
bottle of wine without asking permission. He was also implicated in the
massacre of 8,000 Kurds.

Barzan Al-Tikriti: five of clubs in the deck of USA's most wanted

Anyone outside Iraq who worked against the interests of Saddam was liable to
become an object of Barzan's attentions. He controlled a network of agents
which sought to undermine exiled members of the opposition and monitored the
activities of Iraqi ambassadors abroad, ensuring that they remained loyal to

He also masterminded sanctions-busting projects to enable his leader to get
industrial and military components into Iraq. And, from his base in Geneva
with the UN in the early 1990s, he salted away billions of dollars in oil
money in a network of undercover companies. A firm of financial
investigators hired by the Kuwaiti government estimated that Barzan had
bought nearly $1 billion worth of shares in public companies in the West on
Saddam Hussein's behalf.

Barzan al-Tikriti was born on February 17 1951, one of four brothers born to
Saddam Hussein's mother during her second marriage. He was brought up by a
shepherd whom his mother married after his father died. Barzan claimed to
have an MA in Politics from Baghdad University, although, since it was
obtained after his family had seized power in 1968, there are doubts as to
whether he actually earned it.

What he certainly acquired, however, was a taste for expensive clothes, fine
foods and wines as he made his way to the summit of the state apparatus. He
was on hand to help negotiate the end of the Iran-Iraq war; with Tariq Aziz
(then Saddam's foreign minister), he attended the talks with the American
Secretary of State James Baker as the Americans sought to persuade Iraq to
climb down before the first Gulf War. Barzan also helped to recruit
scientists to work on Iraq's nuclear bomb.

Barzan was trusted sufficiently to be appointed "guardian" to Saddam's son
Uday, who was exiled after murdering one of Saddam's aides. Uday flew into
Geneva, where Barzan ensured that his charge was chaperoned at all times by
a bodyguard - an arrangement that ended when Uday, deciding that the
bodyguard cramped his style, shot him twice, and was immediately sent back
to Baghdad.

Barzan's treatment of his staff in Geneva was unusual. On one occasion, he
sent an employee who was suffering from a blood clot on a long journey by
air and road, against the instructions of a doctor. When asked why he had
done this, Barzan replied: "You have to put pressure on where people are

During his nine years in Geneva Barzan became a familiar figure at the
city's restaurants and lakeside hotels. In 1998 - shortly after his wife had
died from cancer - he was ordered back to Baghdad, where there were rumours
that he had fallen out of favour. Uday, who had been married to Barzan's
daughter Saja, loathed him, and in 1995 had shot and crippled one of
Barzan's brothers. In 1999 it was reported that Barzan had defected and
sought sanctuary in Abu Dhabi; this was denied in Iraq and in the United
Arab Emirates. At one time, it was rumoured that Barzan was being favoured
by Western intelligence as a possible replacement for Saddam.

By early 2000, however, Barzan appeared to have been rehabilitated; and he
returned to Geneva - only to flee Switzerland to escape charges of genocide.
He was accused by a human rights group of supervising an operation to kill
thousands of Kurdish villagers during the Iran-Iraq war, and of taking part
in tortures and beatings. The Swiss refused to arrest him but, when they
denied him a new visa, in October 2002 he left Switzerland and returned to

Barzan was captured by American special forces in Baghdad in April 2003 (he
was the five of clubs in the Americans' deck of playing cards representing
the most wanted men in Iraq). He was executed after being found guilty,
along with Saddam, of being involved in the killing of 148 Shi'ite Muslims
after an assassination attempt on the former president in 1982.

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