Interviews with Saddam’s wizard and his secret wife reveal a lot about the Iraqi dictator. His wizard predicted his downfall and his wife’s brother tried to overthrow his government.

Saddam’s personal magician won’t reveal his name. “That man is still alive, so I?m afraid,” he says. “I helped him, his sons, his ministers, his wife, his cousins, but I can’t mention names. When he is dead I can talk about him.” Will Saddam be found dead or alive? “Dead,” the wizard replies. And where? “Dhuluaiyah,” he says. This is a village 55 miles north of Baghdad.

Saddam believes in magic, and studied it himself. He consulted with two magicians from Iraq, one from Turkey, one from India, a French Arab and a Jewish witch from Morocco. Several magicians say he has a stone, perhaps the bone of a parrot, implanted under the skin of his right arm to protect him against bullets and make people love him.

Parapsychologist al-Haareth Hassan al-Asadi says 60% of Iraqis use some sort of magic. Iraqi storefronts advertise psychics, fortune-tellers, healers and spellmasters. Several years ago, a fortuneteller told Saddam his reign would end on April 9, 2003 (he killed the fortune teller).

For Saddam?s family, the wizard mostly cast spells about love, faithfulness and sexual prowess. He was once put in prison for six months when Saddam suspected his wife of having the magician create a spell that made his leg hurt. Before the war, he also predicted Saddam?s downfall. “I told him through (his son) Qusay’s assistant that he faced great dangers in the war,” he says. “I told him that for a Rolls-Royce and 100 million dinars, I would give him the specifics. I would show it to them on the wall before it happened, but they just laughed. Qusay said the old man had gone crazy. I only wanted 100 million dinars. That’s what they gave their belly dancers.”

Mansia Khazer married Saddam when she was 17, and remained a secret for 10 years, living in a villa facing the Sheraton Hotel in Baghdad. She had jewelry, money and a nice car until Saddam cut her off.

“Saddam didn’t want it to be something shameful, or for people to say that he had raped me,” Khazer says. “It was a secret marriage, but who knows? There could have been a thousand girls like me who caught his eye and he decided he had to have.”

She was about 15 years old when Saddam visited her village. “He was a handsome young man,” she says. “I was walking with some other students and he told his bodyguards to call us over.” She shook his hand and said hello. “He said afterward that he liked that I was so direct, I was not afraid to speak up, he said he saw something of himself in me,” she says.

“As long as he’s alive, I will be afraid,” she says. “When he got mad, my legs used to shake, he was capable of anything, the smallest word or action would set him off even if you had nothing to do with it, he would yell at you. If something bothered him you could see him erupt.”

According to Muslim tradition, a man can have four wives, but Khazer avoided Saddam’s official wife, Sajida. “She wanted to meet me, to find out exactly what was going on between us, but I ran away,” she says. “She could have done anything she wanted to me and there?s nothing I could have done about it.”

She eventually fell out with Saddam when her brother fled to Jordan with Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, in 1995. “I never saw him after that. He never spoke to me again,” she says. Kamel and his brother were married to Saddam’s daughters Raghad and Rana and defected to Jordan with plans to overthrow the dictator. They were eventually lured back to Iraq by Saddam and killed. Khazer’s brother Sultan stayed overseas, and didn’t return until April, after the fall of the regime.

Women have long been linked with magic, and one of history’s most magical women was Mary Magdalene.

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