Gamifying War: Where Are They Now?

Nearly 20 years after the U.S. turned Iraqi’s Most Wanted into playing cards, many of the captured have been released or died while in custody, but several remain at large.

A U.S.-led coalition stormed into Iraq on March 20, 2003, ostensibly to seek and destroy the weapons of mass destruction our intelligence showed most definitely, 100%, no-doubt were strewn all across the country.

There was just one problem: The American public wasn’t exactly sold on the invasion. Sure, it was fine to go into Afghanistan and pound the Taliban. The tie between them and the 9/11 hijackers was irrefutable. But Iraq? It certainly seemed to many that George W. Bush was trying to complete a mission started by his father in 1991.

This skepticism came despite military luminaries such as Colin Powell making the case on live TV with detailed spy imagery showing that there, again, most definitely, 100%, no-doubt were WMD’s in Iraq and that those WMD’s were meant to harm the United States.

So the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), a component of the Department of Defense, pulled out a familiar marketing tool to help sell the war: Gamification.

Companies have been gamifying stuff for years. There’s the tried-and-true toy in the box of Cracker Jacks, the mazes and word searches on the back of cereal boxes and the secret decoder rings kids could get with the right number of proofs of purchase to unlock exclusive content via radio shows.

While we were just a few years past the release of Playstation 2 and Xbox 360, the DIA went old-school with its propaganda to help sell the second Gulf War and created what it called “personality identification playing cards.”

Each card depicted a different Iraqi baddie with a complicated name, and news reports started to be filled with news of “the capture of the jack of spades” or “the surrender of the nine of hearts.” It was a great way to make a war seem more like a night out with the boys playing poker and less like a questionable invasion of another’s sovereign territory with absolutely zero provocation. Plus, when you reduce a human being to a game piece, it’s much less icky to think about a laser-guided bomb wiping them off the face of the planet (along with their wife and five kids).

With the 20-year anniversary of the beginning of our invasion coming up next year, I thought it would be interesting to do some research and find out what happened to those depicted on the playing cards. The idea was spurred by the fact that my wife found a deck of these things while cleaning out some of her parents’ stuff.

So I dove into the depths of the internet and, in the process, created one whopper of a questionable search history for Big Brother to consider, should they be watching. What I found was interesting.

The cards had something of a priority rank to them. The aces were high-value targets — think Saddam Hussein and his sons. The 2’s and 3’s? Some of them appear to just have chosen really poorly whom to associate with.

So let’s start at the fates as of mid-2022 of Iraq’s Most Wanted.


The Dead

Aces

Saddam Hussein, president – EXECUTED

Qusay Saddam Husayn, son of Saddam – KILLED
Uday Saddam Husayn, son of Saddam – KILLED
Abid Hamid Mahmud, presidential secretary – EXECUTED

Kings

Ali Hasan al-Majid, AKA Chemical Ali, chief of Iraqi intelligence service – EXECUTED
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, RCC vice chairman – DIED

Queens

Muhammad Hamza Zubaydim, Retired RCC member – DIED IN CUSTODY

Jacks

Ibrahim Ahmad Abd al-Sattar Muhammad, Armed Forces Chief of Staff – DIED IN CUSTODY

Tens

Latif Nusayyif Jassim, Ba’ath Party military bureau deputy chairmanDIED IN CUSTODY
Taha Yasin Ramadan, vice president/RCC member – EXECUTED

Nines

Rukan Razuki Abd al-Ghafar, Head of Tribal Affairs Office – KILLED
Mizban Khadr Hadi, RCC member – DIED IN CUSTODY
Taha Muhyi Al-Din Maruf, vice president/RCC member – DIED

Eights

Tariq Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister – DIED IN CUSTODY
Sultan Hashim Ahman, minister of defense – DIED IN CUSTODY
Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim, deputy prime minister and finance minister – DIED IN CUSTODY

Sevens

Watban Ibrahim Hasan, half-brother of Saddam Hussein, president advisor – DIED IN CUSTODY
Ayad Futayyih Khalifa al-Rawi, Quds forces chief of staff – DIED IN CUSTODY
Zuhayr Talib Abd Al-Sattar, director of military intelligence – DIED

Sixes

Husam Muhammad Amin, head of National Monitoring Directorate – DIED
Sabawi Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, presidential adviser, half-brother of Saddam Hussein, leader of the Iraqi Secret Service in 1991 – DIED IN CUSTODY

Fives

Barzan Ibrahim Hasan, Saddam Hussein’s half-brother, presidential advisor, leader of the Iraqi secret service during the 1991 Gulf War – EXECUTED (really, really badly)
Abd Al-Baqi Abd Karim Al-Sadun, Ba’ath Party branch command chairman – DIED

Fours

Yahya Abdallah al-Ubaydi, Ba’ath Party branch command chairman – KILLED

Threes

Saad Abdul-Majid, Ba’ath Party branch command chairman – DIED
Sayf al-Din Al-Mashhadani, Ba’ath Party branch command chairman – KILLED
Fadil Mahmud Gharib, Ba’ath Party brand command chairman – KILLED
Muhsin Khadr al-Khafaji, Ba’ath Party branch command chairman – DIED IN CUSTODY

Twos

Ghazi Hammud, Ba’ath Party brand command chairman – DIED
Adil Abdallah Mahdi, Ba’ath Party branch command chairman – DIED IN CUSTODY

Released

Queens

Barzan Abd al-Ghafur Sulaiman Majid, Special Republican Guard commander
Muzahim Sa’b Hassan al-Tikriti, air defense forces commander

Tens

Hamid Raja Shalah, Air Force Commander
Abd al-Tawab Mullah Huwaysh, deputy prime minister

Nines

Jamal Mustafa Abdullah, husband of Saddam Hussein’s youngest daughter, deputy head of tribal affairs –

Eights

Walid Hamid Tawfiq, governor of Basra

Sevens

7: Mahmud Dhiyab, Minister of Interior

Sixes

Amir Rashid Muhammad al-Ubaydi, AKA “Missile Man,” presidential adviser, former oil minister
Muhammad Mahdi Salih, minister of trade

Fives

Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, AKA “Mrs. Anthrax

Fours

Humam Abd al-Khaliq Abd al-Ghafur, minister of higher education and scientific research

Twos

Ugla Abid Saqr, Ba’ath Party regional chairman

Released?

Sevens

Amir Hamudi Hasan al-Sadi, presidential scientific adviser

In Custody

Kings

Aziz Saleh al-Numan, Ba’ath Party branch command chairman

Queens

Kamal Mustafa Abdallah Sultan, secretary of the Republican Guard

Fours

Muhammad Zimam Abd Al -Razzaq, half-brother of Saddam Hussein, Ba’ath Party branch command chairman
Samir Abd Al-Aziz, Ba’ath Party branch command chairman

At-Large

Kings

Hani Abd al-Latif Tilfah, director, special security organization

Jacks

Sayf Al-Din Fulayyih Hasan Taha Al-Rawi, Republican Guard chief of staff
Rafi Abd Al-Latif Tilfah, director of general security
Tahir Jalil Habbush, Iraqi intelligence service –

Twos

Rashid Taan Kazim, Ba’ath Party regional chairman

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