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Published October 28, 2022 Updated February 19, 2023

Iraqi Most Wanted Playing Cards

Playing cards used to help troops identify the most-wanted members of Saddam Hussein's government. 2003.

2003 Iraq USA United States Playing Card Co. Hoyle Military Most Wanted Political Propaganda Videos Wartime Add to Collection

Above: Offical US Defence Intelligence Agency mini-documentry about the Most-wanted Iraqi playing cards.

During the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a U.S.-led coalition, the Intelligence Agency of the United States produced a set of playing cards to help troops identify the most-wanted members of President Saddam Hussein's government, mostly high-ranking members of the Iraqi Socialist Ba'ath Party or members of the Revolutionary Command Council.

Another Iraqi Most Wanted which goes under the title Baghdad Blackjack. Made in Taiwan

Above: Another Iraqi Most Wanted which goes under the title Baghdad Blackjack. Made in Taiwan.

Each card contains the wanted person's details and, if available, the job performed by that individual. The highest-ranking cards, starting with the aces and kings, were used for the people at the top of the most-wanted list.

Another Iraqi Most Wanted which goes under the title Baghdad Blackjack. Made in Taiwan

Above: A 36 x 25 mm sized pack of Iraqi Most Wanted, attached to a key ring.

The ace of spades is Saddam Hussein, the aces of clubs and hearts are his sons Qusay and Uday respectively, and the ace of diamonds is Saddam's presidential secretary Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti. Those for whom a photograph was not available are shown as black silhouettes.

Of the 52 people identified on this pack issued by the US military, 43 have been caught, killed or otherwise accounted for. Of the nine that remain at large, four are thought to be dead. The card backs resemble camouflage akin to a military desert camouflage uniform. The jokers provide details of Arab titles and military ranks

Many versions of this pack have since been produced, and the deck has been featured in lots of films.

Iraqi Most Wanted playing cards, USA, 2003 Iraqi Most Wanted playing cards, USA, 2003

Above: Iraqi Most Wanted playing cards, Hoyle products, USPCC, 2003. According to Wikipedia, the U.S. military inadvertently included in the jokers the trademarked Hoyle joker owned by the United States Playing Card Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Further References

Wikipedia: Most-wanted Iraqi playing cards

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By Peter Burnett

Member since July 27, 2022

I graduated in Russian and East European Studies from Birmingham University in 1969. It was as an undergraduate in Moscow in 1968 that I stumbled upon my first 3 packs of “unusual” playing cards which fired my curiosity and thence my life-long interest. I began researching and collecting cards in the early 1970s, since when I’ve acquired over 3,330 packs of non-standard cards, mainly from North America, UK and Western Europe, and of course from Russia and the former communist countries.

Russian Playing Cards

Following my retirement from the Bodleian Library in Dec. 2007 I took up a new role as Head of Library Development at the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP) to support library development in low-income countries. This work necessitated regular training visits to many sub-Saharan African countries and also further afield, to Vietnam, Nepal and Bangladesh – all of which provided rich opportunities to further expand my playing card collection.

Since 2019 I’ve been working part-time in the Bodleian Library where I’ve been cataloguing the bequest of the late Donald Welsh, founder of the English Playing Card Society.


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