History of Iraq/Saddam Hussein

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Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti
صدام حسين عبد المجيد التكريتي
President of Iraq
In office
16 July 1979 – 9 April 2016
Prime Minister Sa'dun Hammadi< br>Mohammed Amza Zubeidi
Ahmad Husayn Khudayir as-Samarrai
Preceded by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
Succeeded by Jay Garner (Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority of Iraq])
57th & 61st Prime Minister of Iraq
11th & 15th Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq
In office
29 May 1994 – 9 April 2003
Preceded by Ahmad Husayn Khudayir as-Samarrai
Succeeded by Mohammad Bahr al-Ulloum (Acting President of the Governing Council of Iraq)
In office
16 July 1979 – 23 March 1991
Preceded by Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
Succeeded by Sa'dun Hammadi
Personal details
Born 28 April 1937(1937-04-28)
Al-Awja, Iraq
Died 30 December 2006 (aged 69)
Kadhimiya, Iraq
Political party Ba'ath Party
Spouse(s) Sajida Talfah, Samira Shahbandar
Children Uday
Religion Orthodox Sunni Islam

Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (Arabic: صدام حسين التكريتي Ṣaddām Ḥusayn ʿAbd al-Majīd al-Tikrītī; 28 April 1937[1] – 30 December 2006)[2] was the President of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003.[3][4] A leading member of the revolutionary Ba'ath Party, which espoused secular pan-Arabism, economic modernization, and Arab socialism, Saddam played a key role in the 1968 coup that brought the party to long-term power.

As vice president under the ailing General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, and at a time when many groups were considered capable of overthrowing the government, Saddam created security forces through which he tightly controlled conflict between the government and the armed forces. In the early 1970s, Saddam spearheaded Iraq's nationalization of the Western-owned Iraq Petroleum Company, which had long held a monopoly on the country's oil. Through the 1970s, Saddam cemented his authority over the apparatuses of government as Iraq's economy grew at a rapid pace.[5]

As president, Saddam maintained power during the Iran–Iraq War of 1980 through 1988, and throughout the Persian Gulf War of 1991. During these conflicts, Saddam suppressed several movements, particularly Shi'a and Kurdish movements seeking to overthrow the government or gain independence, respectively. Whereas some Arabs venerated him for his aggressive stance against foreign intervention and for his support for the Palestinians,[6] other Arabs and Western leaders vilified him as the force behind both a deadly attack on northern Iraq in 1988 and, two years later, an invasion of Kuwait to the south.

By 2003, the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush perceived that Saddam remained sufficiently relevant and dangerous to be overthrown. In March of that year, the U.S. and its allies invaded Iraq, eventually deposing Saddam. Captured by U.S. forces on 13 December 2003, Saddam was brought to trial under the Iraqi interim government set up by U.S.-led forces. On 5 November 2006, he was convicted of charges related to the 1982 killing of 148 Iraqi Shi'ites convicted of planning an assassination attempt against him, and was sentenced to death by hanging. Saddam was executed on 30 December 2006.[7] By the time of his death, Saddam had become a prolific author.[8][9][10][11] Among his works are multiple novels dealing with themes of romance, politics, and war.[12][13][14][15]

Incarceration and trial[edit]

Capture and incarceration[edit]

Saddam Hussein captured & shaven

In April 2003, Saddam's whereabouts remained in question during the weeks following the fall of Baghdad and the conclusion of the major fighting of the war. Various sightings of Saddam were reported in the weeks following the war but none was authenticated. At various times Saddam released audio tapes promoting popular resistance to the U.S.-led occupation.

Saddam was placed at the top of the U.S. list of "most-wanted Iraqis". In July 2003, his sons Uday and Qusay and 14-year-old grandson Mustapha were killed in a three-hour[16] gunfight with U.S. forces.

On 14 December 2003, U.S. administrator in Iraq L. Paul Bremer announced that Saddam Hussein had been captured at a farmhouse in ad-Dawr near Tikrit.[17] Bremer presented video footage of Saddam in custody.

Saddam was shown with a full beard and hair longer than his familiar appearance. He was described by U.S. officials as being in good health. Bremer reported plans to put Saddam on trial, but claimed that the details of such a trial had not yet been determined. Iraqis and Americans who spoke with Saddam after his capture generally reported that he remained self-assured, describing himself as a "firm but just leader."

According to U.S. military sources, following his capture by U.S. forces on 13 December Saddam was transported to a U.S. base near Tikrit, and later taken to the U.S. base near Baghdad. The day after his capture he was reportedly visited by longtime opponents such as Ahmed Chalabi.

British tabloid newspaper The Sun posted a picture of Saddam wearing white briefs on the front cover of a newspaper. Other photographs inside the paper show Saddam washing his trousers, shuffling, and sleeping. The United States Government stated that it considers the release of the pictures a violation of the Geneva Convention, and that it would investigate the photographs.[18][19] During this period Hussein was interrogated by FBI agent George Piro.[20]

The guards at the Baghdad detention facility called their prisoner "Vic," and let him plant a little garden near his cell. The nickname and the garden are among the details about the former Iraqi leader that emerged during a 27 March 2008 tour of prison of the Baghdad cell where Saddam slept, bathed, and kept a journal in the final days before his execution.[21]


Saddam speaking at a pre-trial hearing

On 30 June 2004, Saddam Hussein, held in custody by U.S. forces at the U.S. base "Camp Cropper", along with 11 other senior Baathist leaders, were handed over legally (though not physically) to the interim Iraqi government to stand trial for crimes against humanity and other offences.

A few weeks later, he was charged by the Iraqi Special Tribunal with crimes committed against residents of Dujail in 1982, following a failed assassination attempt against him. Specific charges included the murder of 148 people, torture of women and children and the illegal arrest of 399 others.[22][23]

Among the many challenges of the trial were:

  • Saddam and his lawyers' contesting the court's authority and maintaining that he was still the President of Iraq.[24]
  • The assassinations and attempts on the lives of several of Saddam's lawyers.
  • The replacement of the chief presiding judge, midway through the trial.

On 5 November 2006, Saddam Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death by hanging. Saddam's half brother, Barzan Ibrahim, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court in 1982, were convicted of similar charges. The verdict and sentencing were both appealed but subsequently affirmed by Iraq's Supreme Court of Appeals.[25] On 30 December 2006, Saddam was hanged.[7]


Saddam was hanged on the first day of Eid ul-Adha, 30 December 2006, despite his wish to be shot (which he felt would be more dignified).[26] The execution was carried out at Camp Justice]], an Iraqi army base in Kadhimiya, a neighborhood of northeast Baghdad.

The execution was videotaped on a mobile phone and his captors could be heard insulting Saddam. The video was leaked to electronic media and posted on the Internet within hours, becoming the subject of global controversy.[27] It was later claimed by the head guard at the tomb where his body remains that Saddam's body was stabbed six times after the execution.[28]

Not long before the execution, Saddam's lawyers released his last letter. The following includes several excerpts:

To the great nation, to the people of our country, and humanity,

Many of you have known the writer of this letter to be faithful, honest, caring for others, wise, of sound judgment, just, decisive, careful with the wealth of the people and the state ... and that his heart is big enough to embrace all without discrimination.

You have known your brother and leader very well and he never bowed to the despots and, in accordance with the wishes of those who loved him, remained a sword and a banner.

This is how you want your brother, son or leader to be ... and those who will lead you (in the future) should have the same qualifications.

Here, I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if He wants, He will send it to heaven with the martyrs, or, He will postpone that ... so let us be patient and depend on Him against the unjust nations.

Remember that God has enabled you to become an example of love, forgiveness and brotherly coexistence ... I call on you 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.

I also call on you not to hate the peoples of the other countries that attacked us and differentiate between the decision-makers and peoples. Anyone who repents - whether in Iraq or abroad - you must forgive him.

You should know that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle against the invaders, and some of them volunteered for the legal defence of prisoners, including Saddam Hussein ... some of these people wept profusely when they said goodbye to me.

Dear faithful people, I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any faithful, honest believer ... God is Great ... God is great ... Long live our nation ... Long live our great struggling people ... Long live Iraq, long live Iraq ... Long live Palestine ... Long live jihad and the mujahedeen.

Saddam Hussein President and Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Mujahed Armed Forces

Additional clarification note:

I have written this letter because the lawyers told me that the so-called criminal court—established and named by the invaders—will allow the so-called defendants the chance for a last word. But that court and its chief judge did not give us the chance to say a word, and issued its verdict without explanation and read out the sentence—dictated by the invaders—without presenting the evidence. I wanted the people to know this.[29]

—Letter by Saddam Hussein

A second unofficial video, apparently showing Saddam's body on a trolley, emerged several days later. It sparked speculation that the execution was carried out incorrectly as Saddam Hussein had a gaping hole in his neck.[30]

Saddam was buried at his birthplace of Al-Awja in Tikrit, Iraq, 3 km (2 mi) from his sons Uday and Qusay Hussein, on 31 December 2006.[31]

List of government positions held[edit]

  • Head of Iraqi Intelligence Service (1963)
  • [Vice President of the Republic of Iraq (1968–1979)
  • President of the Republic of Iraq (1979–2003)
  • Prime Minister of the Republic of Iraq (1979–1991 and 1994–2003)
  • Head of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council (1979–2003)


  1. Under his government, this date was his official date of birth. His real date of birth was never recorded, but it is believed to be a date between 1935 and 1939. From Con Coughlin, Saddam The Secret Life Pan Books, 2003 (ISBN 0-330-39310-3).
  2. executed by hanging after being convicted of crimes against humanity following his trial and conviction
  3. Official State Biography of Saddam Hussein
  4. Online NewsHour Update: Coalition Says Iraqi Regime Has Lost Control of Baghdad - 9 April 2003
  5. See PBS Frontline (2003), "The survival of Saddam: secrets of his life and leadership: interview with Saïd K. Aburish" at [1].
  6. BBC News, 16 October 2000 [2]
  7. a b "Saddam Hussein executed in Iraq". BBC News. 2006-12-30. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6218485.stm. 
  8. Theodolou, Michael. New Iraqi literary king is not-quite anonymous. The Christian Science Monitor: 11 December 2001.
  9. Boncompagni, Hala. Saddam's lawyer plans book on president's 'secrets'. Middle East Online: 23 February 2007.
  10. Santora, Marc and John F. Burns. From Hussein, a florid farewell to the Iraqi people. The New York Times: 4 January 2007.
  11. Barr, Robert. Hussein tends garden, pens poems, official says. The Boston Globe: 27 July 2004.
  12. Hogg, Chris. 'Saddam novel' on sale in Tokyo. BBC News: 18 May 2006.
  13. Cockburn, Andrew and Patrick Cockburn. Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession. London: Verso, 2002, p. xviii.
  14. Blitzer, Wolf, et al. CIA corruption probe; President Bush to give immigration speech Monday night; Iraq: militia challenge. Cable News Network: 12 May 2006. Transcript.
  15. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Interviewing Saddam: FBI agent gets to the truth. United States Department of Justice: 28 January 2008.
  16. Julian Borger and Gary Younge (23 July 2003). "Dead: the sons of Saddam". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1004168,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  17. "Saddam 'caught like a rat' in a hole". CNN. 14 December 2003. http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/12/14/sprj.irq.saddam.operation/. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  18. Saddam underwear photo angers US BBC May 2005
  19. "Pentagon vows to probe Saddam photos". CNN. 2005-05-21. http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/05/20/saddam.photos/. Retrieved 2007-10-22. 
  20. Pelley, Scott (2008-01-27). "Interrogator Shares Saddam's Confessions". CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/24/60minutes/main3749494.shtml. Retrieved 2008-02-08. 
  21. "Tour of prison reveals the last days of Saddam Hussein - CNN.com". 27 March 2008. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/03/27/hussein.journal/index.html. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  22. "Judging Dujail". Human Rights Watch. 19 November 2006. http://www.hrw.org/en/node/11112/section/1. Retrieved 14 December 2009. 
    393 members of the pro Iranian Dawa Party (a banned organisation) were arrested as suspects of which 148, including ten children, confessed to taking part in the plot. It is believed more than 40 suspects died during interrogation or while in detention. Those arrested who were found not guilty were either exiled if relatives of the convicted or released and returned to Dujail. Only 96 of the 148 condemned were actually executed, two of the condemned were accidentally released while a third was mistakenly transferred to another prison and survived. The 96 executed included four men mistakenly executed after having been found not guilty and ordered released. The ten children were originally believed to have been among the 96 executed, but they had in fact been imprisoned near the city of Samawah.
  23. "Saddam Formally Charged". Softpedia. 2006-05-15. http://news.softpedia.com/news/Saddam-Formally-Charged-23683.shtml. Retrieved 2007-01-02. 
  24. "Judge Closes Trial During Saddam Testimony". Fox News. 2006-03-15. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,187923,00.html. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  25. Mariam Karouny and Ibon Villelabeitia (2006-12-26). "Iraq court upholds Saddam death sentence". Reuters. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/26/AR2006122600297_pf.html. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  26. Sky News (5 November 2006). ""I Want a Firing Squad", Web". http://web.archive.org/web/20071011232542/http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,30000-1228824,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  27. Bauder, David (2007-01-02). "Saddam Execution Images Shown on TV, Web". International Business Times. http://web.archive.org/web/20080205073754/http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/20070102/saddam-web-tv.htm. Retrieved 2006-01-02. 
  28. Haynes, Deborah (2008-11-01). "Saddam Hussein's body was stabbed in the back, says guard". The Times (London). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article5058550.ece. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  29. "Saddam's final words". The Daily Telegraph. 2006-12-30. http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,20990518-5001021,00.html. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  30. Qassum Abdul-Zahra (2007-01-09). "New Video of Saddam's Corpse on Internet". Associated Press. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/09/AR2007010900258.html. Retrieved 2006-01-09. 
  31. "Tribal chief: Saddam buried in native village". Reuters. 2006-12-30. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11669236/. Retrieved 2006-12-30. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Al-Ani, Dr. Abdul-Haq. The Trial of Saddam Hussein. ISBN 978-0-932863-58-4. Clarity Press. 2008.
  • Balaghi, Shiva. Saddam Hussein: A Biography. ISBN 978-0-313-33077-3. Greenwich Press. 2008.
  • Coughlin, Con. Saddam: His Rise and Fall. ISBN 978-0-06-050543-1. Harper Perennial. 2005.
  • Karsh, Efraim and Inari Rautsi. Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography. ISBN 978-0-8021-3978-8. Grove Press. 2002.
  • MacKey, Sandra. The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein. ISBN 978-0-393-32428-0. W. W. Norton & Company. 2003.
  • Makiya, Kanan. Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq (Updated Edition). ISBN 978-0-520-21439-2. University of California Press. 1998.
  • Newton, Michael A. and Michael P. Scharf. Enemy of the State: The Trial and Execution of Saddam Hussein. ISBN 978-0-312-38556-9. St. Martin's Press. 2008.