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An expert who reads the minds of America's enemies explains how the Iraqi tyrant became so evil, and why he could be deadly

SADDAM HUSSEIN was turned into a monster by a mother who rejected him, a stepfather who beat him, and an uncle who convinced him he could rule the Arab world.

The frightened child grew into a cold-hearted thug who cares only about holding on to power.

And when that power is threatened, he will fight to the end - lashing out with every terror weapon in his arsenal and turning his own country to ashes.

It's a grim assessment of what faces British and US troops if and when they roll into Iraq.

But it comes from an expert so highly respected that he was paid to read minds for the President of the USA.

Psychologist Professor Jerrold Post spent 20 years analysing world leaders for the CIA. Often, his reports went to the Oval Office itself.

He warned yesterday that of all the despots he has studied, Saddam is among the most warped.

Dr Post said: "Saddam's background is perhaps the most troubled of any I have encountered.

"His father and a 12-year-old brother both died during his mother's pregnancy with him. She, understandably, became severely depressed.

"She attempted suicide, and tried to abort the pregnancy.

"When Saddam was born, she wouldn't look at him. Her brother rescued Saddam and raised him with his family for the first three years of life.

"He was then returned to his mother. She had remarried, and the new stepfather was physically and psychologically abusive to Saddam.

"You can't really imagine a worse start. It would produce very deep and permanent psychological wounds."

Dr Post believes the cruelty Saddam suffered made him more likely to be cruel to others.

His regime has killed at least 200,000 Iraqis and tortured several hundred thousand more.

Saddam's enemies are maimed with electric drills, thrown into acid baths, or gang-raped in front of their families.

The stepfather's beatings also made Saddam determined never to give in again to a stronger enemy - an enemy like the United States.

Dr Post went on: "Saddam was rescued again, at age nine, by his uncle, who filled him with dreams of glory.

"He told Saddam that some day he would rescue Jerusalem for the Moslems, from the Crusaders.

"All these years, Saddam has harboured those views."

The uncle, Khayrallah Talfah Msallat, was a revolutionary activist who fought British rule in Iraq in the 40s.

Dr Post told BBC Radio Scotland that Saddam has a personality disorder known as malignant narcissism.

He added: "Saddam is not insane. But he does have the most dangerous personality.

"He has such an extreme grandiosity and self-love that he is unable to empathise with anyone's pain.

"Saddam is paranoid that he is going to be betrayed or deceived, and he has no conscience about using whatever aggression is necessary to accomplish his goals. He has succeeded in every step of his career by using unconstrained aggression."

Dr Post believes Saddam will stop at nothing if he fears his regime is about to be destroyed. Some of his generals may defect, but others will be loyal to the end.

The expert said: "If he's backed into a wall with no way out, that's when Saddam becomes most dangerous and could lash out.

"I think we can predict that he will order his generals to use chemical and biological weapons against allied forces in the field and against Israel.

"He could even set his own oil fields on fire. It's like, `If I can't have them, nobody will.'

"Having finally achieved world leader status, the only survival that's meaningful to Saddam is survival in power.

"The chances of him accepting permanent exile are between zero and none. He would feel humiliated if he cut and run."
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 6, 2003
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