After months of recovering from an attempt on his life that put eight bullets in his left side, Uday Hussein, the eldest son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, was ready to party. At his first outing in 1998, at the posh Jadriyah Equestrian Club, he used high-powered binoculars to survey the crowd of friends and family from a platform high above the guests. He saw something he liked, recalls his former aide Adib Shabaan, who helped arrange the party. Uday tightened the focus on a pretty 14-year-old girl in a bright yellow dress sitting with her father, a former provincial governor, her mother and her younger brother and sister. Uday's bodyguards picked up the signal and walked through the darkened room, flicking cigarette lighters as they approached the girl's table. Uday, then 33, flipped on his too, confirming they had identified the right one. When the girl left the table for the powder room, Uday's bodyguards approached her with a choice, says Shabaan, who was Uday's business manager. She could ascend the platform now and congratulate Uday on his recovery, or she could call him on his private phone that night. Flustered, she apologized and said her parents would allow neither. One of the guards replied, "This is the chance of your life" and promised she would receive diamonds and a car. "All you have to do is go up there for 10 minutes," he urged. When she demurred again, the bodyguards pursued Uday's backup plan. They maneuvered the girl in the direction of the parking lot, picked her up and carried her to the backseat of Uday's car, covering her mouth to muffle her screams.
After three days the girl was returned to her home, with a new dress, a new watch and a large sum of cash. Her parents had her tested for rape; the result was positive. According to Shabaan's account, Uday heard she had been tested and sent aides to the clinic, where they warned doctors not to report a rape. Furious, the father demanded to see Saddam himself. Rebuffed, he kept complaining publicly about what Uday had done. After three months, the President's son had had enough. He sent two guards to the man to insist that he drop the matter. Uday had another demand: that the ex-governor bring his daughter and her 12-year-old sister to his next party. "Your daughters will be my girlfriends, or I'll wipe you off the face of the earth." The man complied, surrendering both girls.