Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed in Baghdad
at 6:05 a.m. Saturday morning (December 30), 10:05 p.m. ET, less than a
week after a death sentence against him was upheld for his role in the
ordering the execution of 148 Shiite Muslims
in 1982, CNN has confirmed.
The execution was not shown on live television, although it
was videotaped, CNN reports. Images of atrocities wreaked by his regime
were broadcast on state TV leading up to the hanging, according to A
source told CNN that people danced around Hussein’s body and engaged in
Shiite chants in the room where he was executed, although a
correspondent had previously described the streets of Baghdad as
“eerily quiet” as Iraqis were awakening to discover the former dictator
had died. In Dearborn, Michigan, opponents of Hussein’s regime went
into the streets celebrating and waving the Iraq flag.
U.S. officials handed Hussein over to Iraqi authorities Friday
after having had him in custody since he was captured in December 2003,
and last-minute appeals on his life were made by the governments of
Yemen and Libya. His half-brother Barzan Ibrahim and ex-Revolutionary
Court Chief Justice Awad Hamed al-Bandar were also hanged.
In the meantime, U.S. forces – nearly 3,000 of which have died
since the Iraq invasion in March 2003 – were on high alert in
anticipation of retaliation from Hussein’s Sunni supporters,
potentially intensifying the civil strife that has gripped the country.
A member of Hussein’s legal team told AP that U.S. authorities were
working to prevent the mutilation of the ex-dictator’s corpse in order
to stave off an uprising.
Little advance notice was given about the time and location of
the final procedure for fear it would also set off insurgent violence.
Ten people registered to witness the hanging, and a Muslim cleric,
lawmakers, senior officials and relatives of Hussein’s victims were
among those believed to be in attendance.
Hussein was sentenced to death on November 5 by a court set up
to judge his actions during his years in power . An appeals court
handed down its ruling less than two months later, handing out death
sentences to Hussein and his co-defendants. The sentence ended a
drama-filled year of testimony in the trial, which was frequently
interrupted by Hussein’s refusal to show up in court, his righteous
outbursts from the defendant’s box, a change in judges midway through,
as well as the murders of a number of lawyers and witnesses who
participated in the proceedings.
In a letter addressed to the Iraqi people released just days
before his death, Hussein referred to himself as someone who is known
for being “faithful, honest, caring for others, wise, of sound
judgment, just, decisive, careful with the wealth of the people and the
state” and whose heart is “big enough to embrace all without
discrimination.” He said he was offering his soul to God as a
“sacrifice,” in the hope that he would be sent to “heaven with the
Hussein urged his people not to hate, “because hate does not
leave a space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes
all doors of thinking and keeps away one from balanced thinking and
making the right choice.” He also asked that Iraqis not hate the
foreign forces occupying their country and to blame the decision-makers
who sent them, not the people. He signed the letter off with the final
words, “God is Great.. Long live Iraq.. Long live Palestine.. Long
live jihad and the mujahideen.”