Video Of Saddam's Sons Released

People in a Baghdad electronics shop watch the images of the bodies of Saddam Hussein's sons Odai and Qusai as they are broadcast by the Al Jazeera television network, July 25, 2003.
AP
Desperate to convince Iraqis that they have killed Saddam Hussein's sons, the United States military on Friday released video of the bodies of Odai and Qusai Hussein and invited journalists to view the remains.

The extremely graphic video showed the two bodies in a tent being used as a mortuary at Baghdad International Airport. The men's faces, shown in earlier pictures to be severely bruised and wounded, had been reconstructed. Each body had been shot more than 20 times, the military said.

Journalist Andrew Marshall told CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts the U.S. effort to reconstruct the faces of the two sons may backfire with suspicious Iraqis.

"They have made the faces look just like they did when they were alive," Marshall said. "For that reason, although the bodies look like Odai and Qusai, it could still leave doubt in some Iraqi's minds about whether this is really their bodies."

One Iraqi woman voiced her suspicions to Pitts when asked for her response to the video. "My first opinion was I couldn't accept this," she said. "The Americans, they show what's good for them and they hide what's bad for them."

Lubna Riadh, a professor at Baghdad University, said Iraqis have been trained for years to distrust Americans, so widespread belief that Saddam's sons are dead may be a long time coming.

"For 35 years we have been told at universities and colleges and high schools, don't believe Americans," he said.

Meanwhile, a U.S. general said American troops acting on an Iraqi tip captured five to 10 people Friday believed to be Saddam's bodyguards in raid outside Tikrit, a sign forces were closing in on Saddam himself.

The White House adamantly defends the release of the death stills and video of the sons, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller.

Spokesman Scott McClellan said that the Iraqi people lived under a brutal and oppressive regime, and it is important they have assurances that it is gone and won't be back.

He also rejected suggestions that the U.S. is violating the Geneva Convention by releasing the pictures and video. And McClellan said there is a "huge difference" between the U.S. actions and those of warlords who have released pictures of slain Americans.

The video was released as Iraqis debated the validity of the grisly still photos released a day earlier. The United States says the two were killed in a Tuesday raid on a house in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

(Editors note: The photos, including some published on CBSNews.com, are graphic and may be objectionable to some readers.)

The photographs were broadcast Thursday by U.S.-sponsored Iraqi TV, CNN and two Arab satellite television networks widely viewed in Iraq. Among the complaints was that the photographs did not show the sons' full bodies.

Most papers in the capital, Baghdad, didn't publish Friday, which is a traditional day of prayer and rest in the country. The Al Ray Al-Am ran a story about the pictures, but didn't show them, opting instead to show an older color photo of Odai, the eldest son, wearing an Arab headdress, his faced crossed out with a red "X."

The photos, however, seemed to have had little effect on Iraqi opinions.

"This is a U.S. ploy to try to break the spirit of the resistance," said Jassim al-Robai, a computer engineer eating at a restaurant in Baghdad.

After seeing the images, Al-Robai said he wasn't convinced that the brothers were killed.

Two U.S.-military photos released Thursday showed a man identified as Qusai with bruises and blood spots around his eyes. That face was far more intact than the other, identified as Odai.

Two U.S.-military photos showed the first man, identified as Qusai, with bruises and blood spots around his eyes. That face was far more intact than the other, identified as Odai; the mouth was open and the teeth showing.

The face of what appeared to be Odai, the older brother, was severely bloodied. A gash ran from his left eye to the right corner of his mouth, and bruises and blood over his bald forehead, suggesting to some observers, CBS News reports, that Odai may have shot himself in the mouth.

The photos showed the upper torsos of the men, who were bare-chested — one lying on bloody, white sheets, the other in what appeared to be a body bag. Both had their eyes closed, the lids darkly purpled.

The brothers had never worn such thick beards, and may have been trying to disguise their identities as they spent 3½ months in hiding from coalition forces.

Some Iraqis say one is quite recognizable, while the other one is harder to identify due to the bloodied and damaged face.

The brothers' bearded faces caused suspicion among some. "If they shave it a little bit, maybe we can be sure," one man told CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts.

Abbas Fadhil, a 44-year-old barbershop owner, said he had no doubts after seeing the pictures on Iraqi TV that the photographs were of the brothers, but was confused by the U.S. decision not to show the bodies in full.

"The doubts will remain because the coalition forces didn't show them from the front and the sides, didn't show their profiles," he said, adding Qusai's photograph was a perfect image of him.

"They should show more pictures to be more convincing," he said.

Odai, 39, and Qusai, 37, were killed in a gunbattle with U.S. forces Tuesday after an Iraqi informant tipped the Americans to their presence, according to the military.

The U.S. military has said the brothers and a third man, believed to have been a bodyguard, were killed by TOW missiles fired into the villa where they were hiding. A fourth person in the house, believed to be Qusai's teenage son Mustafa, was shot to death when troops then stormed the house.

An Iraqi tipster led the United States to the brothers, weeks after the U.S. military offered a $15 million reward for information leading to the capture or death of either.

The Coalition Provisional Authority is in talks with the Governing Council on what to do with the remains of the brothers. According to Islamic tradition, they must be buried as soon as possible.

U.S. officials had hoped the brothers' deaths would erode support for militants who have been attacking U.S. forces nearly 12 times a day.

Whether or not doubts about the deaths was the cause, there was no let-up in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's raid.

Early Thursday, three members of the 101st Airborne were killed in an attack on a convoy near Mosul. The day before, two soldiers were killed in separate attacks.

The Times of London, meanwhile, said an interview with Odai's personal bodyguard revealed that the brothers had remained in Baghdad throughout the war. They were across town from the site of the first U.S. attempt to kill them, but narrowly escaped the second attempt on April 7. They often were "right under the noses" of U.S. troops.