BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 12, 2003 (AP) – The doors of the town house opened to reveal a playboy’s fantasy straight from the 1960s: mirrored bedroom, lamps shaped like women, airbrushed paintings of a topless blonde woman and a mustached hero battling a crocodile.
Troops thought it was the home of Saddam Hussein’s mistress, though on the wall and in the bedroom were photos of the Iraqi president and a woman who appeared to be his wife. The company commander suspected they had found one of the Iraqi leader’s many safe houses.
“This must have been Saddam’s love shack,” said Sgt. Spencer Willardson of Logan, Utah.
The split-level, one-bedroom town house is in a Baath Party enclave in an upscale neighborhood in central Baghdad where generals and senior party officials lived.
As U.S. officials set up command posts there, troops were going home by home, searching for looters and weapons.
Next door, where iron sheets were welded over all the windows, they found more than 6,000 Berretta pistols, 650 Sig Sauer pistols, 248 Colt Revolvers, 160 Belgian 7.65 mm pistols, 12 cases of Sterling submachine guns and four cases of anti-tank missiles all still in the unopened original boxes. There were also tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition mortars and cases of old handguns and heavy machine guns.
Not far off was another presidential palace, this one with a Yugoslav-built, chemical and biological weapons-proof bunker underneath it. A U.S. Army team inspected it and it appeared to be strictly defensive in nature.
But this home was different: beanbag chairs, a garden of plastic plants, a sunken kitchen and a room for a servant, all 1960s-style.
The sunken wet bar was stocked with 20-year old Italian red wines and expensive cognacs, brandies and Scotch whiskeys, the same brands found in several presidential palaces.
The glassware, too, was the same pattern that was found in at least three palaces also visited by U.S. troops since the regime collapsed. The pattern features the Iraqi government seal and a gold pattern on that rim.
But when it came time to eat dinner, Saddam was served his food on the official fine china of the Kuwaiti royal family, complete with the family seal and gold and maroon trim.
Capt. Chris Carter, commander of A Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, said the home appears to be one of Saddam’s safe houses. Officials concluded that the house was used by Parisoula Lampsos, who publicly claimed to be Saddam’s mistress. She escaped to Lebanon in 2002.
Saddam’s wife, Sajida Khairallah Telfah, is also his cousin. Together they had three daughters and two sons, Odai and Qusai. Like her husband, her whereabouts are unknown. Saddam is widely known to have a third son, Ali, by another woman.
Lampsos was interviewed extensively about her relationship with Saddam on U.S. television. Her current location is unknown and she was last believed to be in hiding.
The photos show Saddam and a woman smiling at each other and standing beside one another – in one Saddam wears a uniform and in another a suit.
On one wall was a 16-by-20 inch plaque of the Iraqi eagle and flag seal.
Upstairs was a television room with bright blue, pink and yellow throw pillows. The bathroom included a whirlpool bath. The kingsize bed was fitted into an alcove with mirrors on two sides and a fantasy painting on the third.
The closets and drawers were empty except for a man’s night shirt, two pairs of boxer shorts, two T-shirts and a bath robe – each item individually wrapped in plastic, just as similar items had been in the palaces.
One of the airbrushed paintings depicted a topless blonde woman, with a green demon behind her, pointing a finger at a mythic hero. From the tip of her finger came a giant serpent, which had wrapped itself around the warrior.
Another showed a buxom woman chained to a barren desert mountain ledge, with a huge dragon diving down to kill her with sharpened talons.
The home’s 1960s look – parodied in the series of “Austin Powers” spy spoofs – inspired a round of imitations from soldiers slogging door to door.
“Yeah, baaabeee,” said Carter, doing his best imitation of actor Mike Myers’ character.
“Shagadelic,” another soldier shouted.
Indeed, the carpet was navy blue shag.