Byline: Latif Yahia; A movie based on Yahia's Life, The Devil's Double, opens in the U.S. this month.
They forced me to stand in for Saddam's son. I escaped--but never got my revenge.
During the late 1980s, I was working as an officer in the Iraqi Army when my commanding general received a letter that demanded I report to a palace in Baghdad within 72 hours. When I went to the palace, I was brought to see Uday Hussein, Saddam's older son. "I want you to be my fiday," he said. In Arabic, fiday means body double or bullet catcher. I didn't understand. "Do you want me to be your bodyguard?" I asked. "No," he said. "Our intelligence service says we look like each other, and I want you to work as my double."
I felt like somebody had hit me in the head with a hammer. "Do I have a choice?" I asked, thinking this was somehow a joke. "If you refuse," Uday said, "you can go back to the Army. We don't have a problem with you." It was a lie. As soon as I left the palace, his guards threw me in the trunk of a car and took me to jail. Everything was painted red inside the cell to make you stressed and remind you of blood. A completely red room is also disorienting.
They kept me in this jail for a week before Uday asked to see me again; he was trying to torture me psychologically. This time he threatened to rape my sisters, who were only little girls at the time. "I'll do it, but leave my family alone," I told him. And that's when it all started.
After that, I often saw rape, torture, killings. The torture was really …