It was a father's dilemma: What to do with a wayward son? In Saddam Hussein's case, the problem was his son Odai, who has been accused of murders and rapes too numerous to count.
For Saddam, the answer was to put Odai in charge of Iraq's Olympic committee. In the 16 years since, Odai Hussein has more than lived up to his reputation for capricious cruelty.
One example: 20/20 uncovered evidence linking Odai with the torture and interrogation of some 20 American prisoners captured during the 1991 Gulf War, including former Navy Cmdr. Jeff Zaun, who was forced at gunpoint to appear on Iraqi television and forced to denounce his country.
In his first television interview, Zaun told 20/20 that he was routinely beaten and threatened with death before he made the tape.
"They brought me in and told me they were going to kill me," he said. "I'll remember — for the rest of my life I'll remember — the guy with the pistol in his hand."
According to Odai's former press secretary, Abass al-Janabi, the dictator's son was one of five people supervising the treatment of the American prisoners. If the pilots did not give information, the orders were to torture them, Janabi said. He said he did not know if any of the pilots revealed accurate information.
American investigators believe Odai is one of the few who could know the whereabouts of American pilot Scott Speicher, who remains missing after his plane crashed in northern Iraq.
"If you say that this is a sadistic regime ... then it is possible to understand that Saddam and Odai might keep an American pilot alive ... for the purpose of causing other people pain," said Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat who works with Indict, a London-based group that tracks alleged human rights abuses by Iraqi officials.
But Odai saved some of his harshest cruelty for his own countrymen.
"Odai Hussein as head of the Olympic committee has personally directed the torture of athletes who have not done well. He has participated himself in beatings, in amputations," Galbraith said.
"It's the only Olympic committee in the world that has its own prison. … It has really become a chamber of horrors," said Galbraith, whose group receives funding from the U.S. government.
If only a fraction of what is said about 38-year-old Odai, Saddam's eldest son, is true, he would still be considered at least as brutal as his father — and more deviant.
"I think the best comparison is with the [former] Ugandan dictator Idi Amin ... who also was a sadist, who enjoyed killing people, and who engaged in all sorts of very erratic behavior," said Galbraith.
Galbraith says Odai is guilty of a long list of atrocities, from his treatment of Olympic athletes, to rapes and murders, to his reported role in ordering the torture of American prisoners of war.
In the event of war with Iraq, Odai will be "one of the top targets for the United States," Galbraith said.
Wealth and Power
With his dictator father looking the other way, Odai has amassed a fortune in a country of great poverty. Former aides say he has collected some 1,200 luxury cars, buying them or simply taking them because it suits his fancy.
"Odai is a spoiled child, but one with lots of power," said Galbraith.
Odai's power may explain why when 20/20 asked people on the streets of Baghdad about him — with government guards watching — they were quick to praise him and defend him against his critics in the West.