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History Uncut: Saddam Hussein Captured

History Uncut: Saddam Hussein Captured

This video clip from "History Uncut" provides a glimpse into the capture of famed dictator Saddam Hussein. Former Iraq President Saddam Hussein had been in hiding for almost a year until U.S. forces captured him outside the city of Tikrit in a military operation known as Operation Red Dawn.


Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti ( / h ʊ ˈ s eɪ n / [3] Arabic: صدام حسين عبد المجيد التكريتي Ṣaddām Ḥusayn ʿAbd al-Majīd al-Tikrītī [a] 28 April 1937 [b] – 30 December 2006) was an Iraqi politician, the fifth President of Iraq from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003. [8] A leading member of the revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, and later, the Baghdad-based Ba'ath Party and its regional organization, the Iraqi Ba'ath Party—which espoused Ba'athism, a mix of Arab nationalism and Arab socialism—Saddam played a key role in the 1968 coup (later referred to as the 17 July Revolution) that brought the party to power in Iraq.

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 conflicts between the government and the armed forces. In the early 1970s, Saddam nationalised the Iraq Petroleum Company and independent banks, eventually leaving the banking system insolvent due to inflation and bad loans. [9] Through the 1970s, Saddam consolidated his authority over the apparatus of government as oil money helped Iraq's economy grow rapidly. Positions of power in the country were mostly filled with Sunni Arabs, a minority that made up only a fifth of the population. [10]

Saddam formally took power in 1979, although he had already been the de facto head of Iraq for several years. He suppressed several movements, particularly Shi'a and Kurdish movements which sought to overthrow the government or gain independence, respectively, [11] and maintained power during the Iran–Iraq War and the Gulf War. Hussein's rule was a repressive dictatorship. [12] The total number of Iraqis killed by the security services of Saddam's government in various purges and genocides is conservatively estimated to be 250,000. [13] Saddam's invasions of Iran and Kuwait also resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

In 2003, a coalition led by the United States invaded Iraq to depose Saddam. U.S. President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair erroneously accused Iraq of possessing weapons of mass destruction and having ties to al-Qaeda. [14] Saddam's Ba'ath party was disbanded and the country's first democratic elections were held. After his capture on 13 December 2003, the trial of Saddam Hussein took place under the Iraqi Interim Government. On 5 November 2006, Saddam was convicted by an Iraqi court of crimes against humanity related to the 1982 killing of 148 Iraqi Shi'a and sentenced to death by hanging. He was executed on 30 December 2006. [15]


Know about the Iraq War, the capture and trial of Saddam Hussein, and the rise of ISIL

ANAND NAIDOO: Saddam Hussein was captured by American soldiers on December 13th, 2003, just over eight months after his regime was toppled by a US-led invasion. The former Iraqi president had stayed in Baghdad until the city was about to fall. He was eventually found hiding in what was described as a "spider hole" on a farm near his hometown of Tikrit. In a few moments we'll talk with the CIA agent tasked with questioning the former Iraqi leader-- but first, some background. Here's CGTN's Jessica Stone.

GEORGE W. BUSH: Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.

JESSICA STONE: Two days after this warning, US President George W. Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom. Baghdad was soon taken. Within weeks, Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled-- but that was the easy part.

The coalition found a country divided by sectarian and ethnic rivalries. Nevertheless, the coalition decided to disband the Iraqi army, releasing tens of thousands of former soldiers who quickly became ripe for recruitment to the insurgency. Casualties among the coalition forces mounted, reaching 4,000 by 2008.

But the Iraqis paid the highest price for the violence. Public squares became the backdrop for indiscriminate bombings, and thousands more were killed in coalition military operations. By April 2009, the Associated Press reported more than 110,000 Iraqi civilian lives were gone.

Saddam Hussein was found in 2003, put on trial in 2005, and hanged in 2006. Despite going to war under the pretext of Hussein's alleged possession of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, none of these weapons were ever found. In April 2004, photographs of prisoner abuse surfaced from the Abu Ghraib prison. 17 US troops were removed from duty, and most were eventually tried in military courts.

In 2008, Barack Obama won the White House, in part on a promise to end the war in Iraq. Two weeks later, the Iraqi parliament ratified a Status of Forces Agreement with Washington. It set a timeline for US troop withdrawal by the end of 2011.

When the last American troops left, the US had spent more than $1 trillion and lost more than 4,400 lives. Within two years, the insurgency linked to al-Qaeda in Iraq morphed into the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. It took territory in Iraq and Syria, often taking over American military equipment left behind when the Iraqi military was overtaken.

By the summer of 2014, ISIL had taken the major Iraqi city of Mosul. The US began airstrikes later that year. By June 2015, ISIL took Ramadi, and the Obama administration authorized up to 500 military trainers to Iraq. In the fall of 2016, US trainers began to prepare Iraqi troops to retake Mosul, culminating in its liberation in March of 2017.

The new US president, Donald Trump, has publicly called for the total destruction of ISIL. Washington has launched a review of its counter-ISIL strategy, but there have been no announcements of how the new US president will pursue his stated goal.


The Fedayeen Saddam was not part of Iraq's regular armed forces but rather operated as a paramilitary unit of irregular forces. As a result of this, the Fedayeen reported directly to the Presidential Palace, rather than through the military chain of command. Whilst paramilitary the Fedayeen were not an elite military force, often receiving just basic training and operating without heavy weapons. [ citation needed ] In this they were somewhat similar to the Basij of Iran or Shabbiha militia of Syria.

Much like other paramilitaries, the Fedayeen was volunteer based and the units were never given an official salary. As a result, most of the members resorted to extortion and theft of property from the general population, even though the members had access to sanction-evading trade and high quality services (i.e. new cars, hospitals reserved for officials, expensive electronics) and a general standard of living considerably higher than that of the average Iraqi of the time. [ citation needed ] However, they were ordered not to threaten or harm any government officials. As the group had no overt religious affiliations, it had a mix of Sunni and Shia members. [ citation needed ] [ dubious – discuss ]

The Fedayeen were among the most loyal organizations to the government of Saddam Hussein and were a politically reliable force against domestic opponents. The Fedayeen played a role in the 2003 war, resisting the American-led invasion.

Early years Edit

Uday Hussein formed the Fedayeen Saddam in 1995 with ten to fifteen thousand recruits from the Iraqi regions most loyal to the Ba'ath Party. Uday used the Fedayeen for personal reasons such as smuggling and suppressing opponents. [1] Command of the militia was handed to Qusay Hussein in 1996 when it was uncovered that Uday was diverting weapons to the militia from the Iraqi Republican Guard.

Before Saddam was removed from power, the force was placed back under Uday's control. In 1998 the Ashbal Saddam (Saddam's Lion Cubs) was created to recruit and train young children for membership in the Fedayeen. The Ashbal recruited boys aged 10 to 15 for training in small arms and infantry tactics as well as loyalty conditioning.

2003 invasion of Iraq Edit

The Fedayeen Saddam did not rise to international attention, however, until the 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S.-led coalition forces. Whereas the Iraqi army and the Republican Guard quickly collapsed, Fedayeen forces put up stiff resistance to the coalition invasion. U.S. strategy was to bypass other cities and head straight to Baghdad. In response, Fedayeen fighters entrenched themselves in the cities and launched guerrilla-style attacks on rear supply convoys. These convoys were attempting but usually falling short of keeping up with the rapid advance to Baghdad. They were attempting to sustain the rapid advance by bringing up food, water, ammunition, medical supplies and mail from back home. These were very lightly armed cargo trucks driving as fast as they could on dirt roads mainly in southern Iraq, after loading supplies in Kuwait. Once they started to get close to central Iraq more and more paved roads were available. They were almost always at least a few days behind. This made the resupply convoys vulnerable to attack. In these trucks were usually low to mid ranking enlisted soldiers with mostly no combat experience before this. [ citation needed ] For instance these cargo trucks mainly were only defended by the two rifles the driver and truck commander had. So even with a relatively small force the Fedayeen could attack several of the last trucks in a convoy, or trucks that had lost contact with the convoy. It was easy for the Fedayeen to capture or destroy these isolated poorly defended vehicles. The Fedayeen also used intimidation in an attempt to maintain morale in the Iraqi army and to keep civilians from rebelling. The multinational coalition was forced to turn its attention to the slow task of rooting out irregular forces from the southern cities, delaying the advance by two weeks. During the invasion, Fedayeen fighters mostly wielded AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, and truck-mounted artillery and mortars. They made extensive use of subterfuge in an attempt to blunt the overwhelming technological advantage used by the invading forces.

By the end of the first week of April, Coalition forces had mostly succeeded in rooting out Fedayeen forces from the southern cities. The Shiite population was very un-supportive of the fighters, although many were intimidated. This factor, coupled with overwhelming firepower, quickly gave U.S. forces in the area a decisive edge. This reduced the pressure on the stretched supply lines, enabling the advance to continue. On April 9, Baghdad fell to U.S. forces with only sporadic resistance by Fedayeen irregulars, foreign volunteers, and remnants of the Special Republican Guard, effectively ending the regime of Saddam Hussein. Tikrit, the last city to fall, was taken on April 15.

Iraqi insurgency Edit

The fall of Baghdad effectively ended the existence of the Fedayeen Saddam as an organized paramilitary. Some of its members died during the war. A large number survived, however, and were willing to carry on the fight even after the fall of Saddam Hussein from power. Many former members joined guerrilla organizations, collectively known as the Iraqi insurgency, that began to form to resist the U.S-led occupation. By June, an insurgency was clearly underway in central and northern Iraq, especially in the area known as the Sunni Triangle. Some units of the Fedayeen also continued to operate independently of other insurgent organizations in the Sunni areas of Iraq. On November 30, 2003, a U.S. convoy traveling through the town of Samarra in the Sunni Triangle was ambushed by over 100 Iraqi guerrillas, reportedly wearing trademark Fedayeen Saddam uniforms. Exactly how much influence they had in the resistance, especially following Saddam Hussein's capture on December 13, 2003, was a source of controversy.

Additional roles Edit

The Fedayeen has been cited as carrying out some of the most brutal acts of the pro-Saddam militias. They have reportedly carried out extra-judicial executions. Additionally, they were thought to have acted as enforcers for the Iraqi army in order to prevent desertion. [2] In the last two years of Hussein’s rule, a campaign of beheadings, mainly targeting women suspected of prostitution and carried out by his elite Fedayeen unit, killed more than 200 people, human rights groups reported at the time. [3]

The Fedayeen Saddam wore two uniforms, an all black one worn on operations [4] [5] [6] and an all white one worn on parade. [7] [8] They also operated in plain clothes. [9] [10] A black Darth Vader style helmet was also worn by some of the black-uniformed Fedayeen, as Uday Hussein (commander of the Fedayeen and eldest son of Saddam) was reportedly an avid fan of Star Wars. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15]

The Fedayeen were equipped as light infantry and were armed with AK-47's/AKM, and RPGs. [16]


History Uncut: Saddam Hussein Captured - HISTORY

March 4, 2003

EDITORIAL
Saddam Hussein and History 101

By Eric H. Cline

As George Santayana cogently observed, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Valid comparisons can certainly be made between ancient and modern societies — including Rome and the United States. It is also true that those who remember the past can deliberately attempt to repeat it, or at least to use recollections of the past to pursue modern objectives. This appears to be the case with Saddam Hussein, who has studied the history of ancient and medieval Iraq and apparently wishes to see it repeated.

Saddam has, on numerous occasions, called himself the “successor” to two of the most famous figures from Iraq’s history: the Neo-Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II of the sixth century BCE, and the Moslem warrior Saladin of the 12th century. Nebuchadnezzar occupies a prominent place in the Hebrew Bible as the victorious conqueror of Jerusalem. In 586 BCE, he laid the city waste, destroyed Solomon’s Temple, and exiled the Jews to Babylon. Saladin is familiar as a mighty warrior of the armies of Islam. After the Christian forces of the First Crusade captured Jerusalem in year 1099, he rallied the Islamic armies and recaptured the city less than 90 years later.

For the past few decades, Saddam has used these two figures in his propaganda. He has styled himself the successor to Saladin. Conveniently forgetting that Saladin was a Kurd, Saddam makes much of the fact that he and Saladin were born in the same little village of Tikrit. In July 1987, a colloquium on Saladin was held at Tikrit under the title, “The Battle of Liberation — from Saladin to Saddam Hussein.” That same year, a Baghdad publisher produced a children’s book entitled “The Hero Saladin.” The cover showed a picture of Saddam Hussein, with sword-wielding horsemen in the background. After a brief account of Saladin’s life, emphasizing his reconquest of Jerusalem, the rest of the booklet was devoted to Saddam Hussein, whom it called “the noble and heroic Arab fighter Saladin II Saddam Hussein,” consistently referring to him thereafter as “Saladin II.”

Saddam also portrays himself as the successor to Nebuchadnezzar. In 1979, he was quoted by his semi-official biographer as saying: “Nebuchadnezzar stirs in me everything relating to pre-Islamic ancient history. And what is most important to me about Nebuchadnezzar is the link between the Arabs’ abilities and the liberation of Palestine. Nebuchadnezzar was, after all, an Arab from Iraq, albeit ancient Iraq. … That is why whenever I remember Nebuchadnezzar I like to remind the Arabs, Iraqis in particular, of their historical responsibilities. It is a burden that should… spur them into action because of their history.”

Although Nebuchadnezzar was neither Arab nor Moslem, Saddam Hussein’s “Nebuchadnezzar Imperial Complex,” as one psychologist called it, has been remarkably consistent. In the late 1980s he promoted the Iraqi Arts Festival called “From Nebuchadnezzar to Saddam Hussein.” He also had a replica of Nebuchadnezzar’s war chariot built and had himself photographed standing in it. He ordered images of himself and Nebuchadnezzar beamed, side by side, into the night sky over Baghdad as part of a laser light show. He has spent millions rebuilding the ancient site of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar’s capital city, provoking fears among Christian fundamentalists who see this as one of the signs of the end times and the imminent approach of Armageddon.

There are other great military figures from Iraqi history that Saddam might have elected to emulate. Why not Sargon of Akkad, Hammurabi of Babylon, or Sennacherib and Assurbanipal of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, for example? Saddam has in fact compared himself to many other historical figures, but his preferred heroes remain Nebuchadnezzar and Saladin. Why? A single common denominator links these two historical figures and distinguishes them from the other great figures of Iraq’s past. Of all the Iraqi empire-builders — ancient, medieval, or modern — only Nebuchadnezzar and Saladin ever captured Jerusalem.

In February 2001, one day after Ariel Sharon was first elected prime minister of Israel, Saddam Hussein announced the formation of a “Jerusalem Army,” consisting of seven million Iraqis who “volunteered to liberate Palestine” from Israeli rule. In August 2001, the Associated Press reported that thousands of Iraqis had taken to the streets, waving guns and calling for the “liberation of Palestine” under Hussein’s leadership. Their banners read “Here we come Saddam . here we come Jerusalem.” And in February 2003, members of the “Jerusalem Army” marched again in Mosul official Iraqi sources claim that two million recruits have completed their training in the past two years.

Although analysts frequently dismiss such actions as mere propaganda in a “fantasy drama staged by Saddam,” we who remember the past should recall that Nebuchadnezzar successfully laid waste to Jerusalem 2,500 years ago and Saladin captured it 800 years ago. Even if Saddam Hussein’s “Jerusalem Army” is more wishful thinking than serious threat, his stated intention to destroy Jerusalem — most probably with a Scud missile tipped with a chemical or biological weapon — cannot be ignored. Will he attempt to make history repeat itself? We shall probably know the answer soon enough.


POW status [ edit | edit source ]

A Pentagon spokesman said he was given the Prisoner of War status as he was the leader of the "old regime's military forces."

The spokesman, Major Michael Shavers, said Saddam, captured by US troops in December, was entitled to all the rights under the Geneva Conventions. The International Committee of the Red Cross had asked to visit the former Iraqi leader as soon as possible. The US spokesman did not give further details about Saddam Hussein's conditions of detention.

POW status for Saddam Hussein meant that the former Iraqi leader would be eligible to stand trial for war crimes.

Prisoners' rights under the Geneva Convention include:

Saddam Hussein after capture.

  • Protection against pressure of any kind during interrogation,
  • Provision of valid identity documents,
  • Food rations and drinking water sufficient to keep prisoner in good health,
  • Adequate clothing and washing facilities, and
  • Adequate medical treatment.

There was controversy over TV pictures which showed Saddam Hussein undergoing a medical examination after his capture - footage regarded by some as a failure to protect him from public curiosity. A leading Vatican clergyman described the scenes as Saddam being "treated like a cow," and some sections of the Arab world were deeply offended by them. The US maintains that the pictures were shown to demonstrate to the Iraqi people that they no longer had anything to fear.

A senior British official said Saddam - who was being held at an undisclosed location and interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) - was still refusing to co-operate with his captors, but the former president's capture last month was yielding results "far greater than we expected," the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The US-led coalition had used documents found with the ex-leader to mount operations against Saddam loyalists, the official said.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aburish, Sa ï d K. 2000. Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge. London: Bloombury.

Al-Khalil, Samir (Kanan Makiya). 1989. Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Baram, Amatzia. 1991. Culture, History, and Ideology in the Formation of Ba ’ thist Iraq, 1968 – 89. New York: St. Martin ’ s Press.

Baram, Amatzia. 1996. Re-Inventing Nationalism in Ba ’ thi Iraq 1968 – 1994: Supra-Territorial and Territorial Identities and What Lies Below. Princeton Papers 5 (Fall): 29 – 56.

Bengio, Ofra. 1998. Saddam ’ s Word: Political Discourse in Iraq. New York: Oxford University Press.

Farouk-Sluglett, Marion, and Peter Sluglett. 2001. Iraq Since 1958: From Revolution to Dictatorship. Rev. ed. New York: Tauris.

Marr, Phebe. 2004. The Modern History of Iraq. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview.


Saddam Hussein Is Dead

Saddam Hussein reacts in court during the Anfal genocide trial in Baghdad in December 2006.

The Trial and Execution of Saddam Hussein

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Saddam joined the pan-Arab nationalist Baath Party in 1957. Two years later, at the age of 22, Saddam was part of a Baathist plot to assassinate General Abdul Karim Kassem, who had overthrown the monarchy of King Faisal II a year before. Saddam escaped Iraq with a gunshot wound in the leg and spent the next six years in exile in Cairo where he had contacts with the CIA. The American spy agency was backing the Baathists at the time.

When the Baath Party took power in Iraq in 1968, Saddam was named Vice President to the aging General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and spent the next 11 years mastering the way the regime worked and consolidating his own power and popular support. He launched a popular literacy campaign across Iraq and made education more accessible. He modernized the health system and helped al-Bakr mastermind the nationalization of Iraq's oil resources, seizing petroleum rights from international companies. He also was instrumental in building up the Baath Party's all-pervasive network of informants to ensure loyalty and warn of coup plots. However, in 1979, when Al-Bakr proposed a federation with the neighboring Baathist regime of Syria, an agreement in which Syrian President Hafez Assad would become the heir apparent to a united Syria-Iraqi Baathist republic, Saddam acted. Al-Bakr was thrust out of office and Saddam assumed the presidency. In a single day, he had 68 Baath Party members arrested for disloyalty, 22 of whom were later hanged for treason.

As much as he knew how to manipulate power in Iraq through propaganda and government-sponsored terror, he was inept at international relations and diplomacy. His enemies abroad were myriad. Certainly, he and Assad's regime in Damascus were not friendly, despite the political genetics that linked their ruling parties. But he was also an enemy of Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Iranian cleric who had fled the Shah's persecution and sought refuge in Iraq's holy Shi'a city of Najaf in 1965. Saddam did not make it a comfortable stay and Khomeini moved on to exile in Europe. When the Ayatollah became the supreme leader of Iran's Islamic revolutionary government in 1979, a clash was inevitable. In 1980, Saddam ordered the invasion of a southern province of Iran, sparking an eight-year war of attrition that ended in stalemate and the deaths of more than a million on both sides.

Even if Washington was happy to see Khomeini's Iran bogged down in a proxy war with Saddam's forces, the Iraqi dictator quickly disabused anyone who believed that he was the strongman to guarantee Middle East stability. In 1990, just three years after the costly Iran-Iraq war ground to a halt, Saddam, having built up one of the largest militaries in the region, decided to resolve tensions with Kuwait over oil rights and boundary lines by invading. But he underestimated the response from the international community and a U.S.-led multinational force routed his tank divisions. From 1991 until the U.S. invasion of March 2003, Iraq was under international sanctions and U.S. F-16s patrolled "no fly zones" in large portions of its northern and southern regions.

The second Gulf War drove Saddam from Baghdad and power and into the spider hole. In the interim, his Baathist apparatus and military were dismantled. His family dispersed. His heirs, the despicable Uday and Qusay, were killed while fugitives in Iraq. Two years after his arrest, Saddam was put on trial for war crimes before the newly re-constituted Iraqi High Tribunal. In November he was convicted of genocide for ordering the executions of 148 men and boys in response to a 1982 assassination attempt in the town of Dujail. The Dujail trial introduced witnesses and an extensive document trail that proved Saddam's personal hand in the collective punishment that followed the attempt on his life. His death comes in the middle of another trial that had Saddam and other key figures from his regime facing charges of launching chemical attacks against tens of thousands of Kurds in the late '80s. That trial will continue without Saddam as a defendant.

It is fitting that Saddam Hussein died, as many of his political opponents did, dangling from the end of a rope. He had used the gallows at Abu Ghraib to silence opposition and dissent. In doing so, he had controlled Iraq for over two decades, but he created a generation of enemies. And some of those enemies, who never forgot their fathers and brothers who disappeared in the night, were there to watch him die.

For many who watched it, the execution of Saddam Hussein was a personal vindication. He killed their brothers, uncles, tore apart their families and ran their beloved country into the ground. Even if his finger didn't pull the trigger, they blamed him for everything: every nail-biting visit by an intelligence officer, every midnight execution, every tongue cut out by a sadistic guard, every body in the mass graves at Hillah and Hawija and Musayeb. He projected absolute authority while he was in power and now faced absolute responsibility for every death under his rule. The moment the steel trap door below his feet was released, he suffered the absolute punishment — a powerless old man, dying alone.


A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Dictators

On Sunday December 14, 2003, something amazing happened. While hiding underground in a tiny dirt hole, Saddam Hussein was captured alive by the 4th Infantry Division of American Special Forces. High Value Target Number One was in exactly the kind of condition you'd expect after enduring the nine months of freedom afforded by Operation Enduring Freedom. Saddam's appearance and demeanor were described by infantrymen and reporters alike as dirty, filthy, haggard, homeless, scraggly, scrappy, weakened, weary, and wobbly -- in alphabetical order. George W. Bush's bid to earn just a whisper of his father's approval had finally paid off.

"I am Saddam Hussein," the former dictator spoke in fractured boobly English while clutching a small pistol. "I am the president of Iraq and I want to negotiate." The pistol was taken from him without argument, and DNA later confirmed his identity. One soldier replied tartly, "President Bush sends his regards."

The layout and decor of Saddam's underground hideaway hole were a far cry from his former palaces of indescribable luxury. It turns out family members had given him up, directing intelligence toward a mud-brick hut ten miles south of his childhood home in Tikrit. As troops secured the perimeter, there could be no hiding his warm body from the detection of even third-world infrared scanning techniques. Saddam's rent-controlled "area" was equipped with wall-to-wall dirt and not much of a view. Utilities not included. His Unabomber-sized quarters had one small entrance from above: a filthy piece of flapping cloth and a styrofoam icebox lid painted to look like a concrete slab. Not much of a skylight. Soldiers reported as they descended the ladder, they could hear Saddam scrabbling with rocks, attempting to cover himself up with dirt. Maybe it just should have put the lotion in the basket.

What soldiers found was a cave littered in filth and squalor complete with garbage, plastic bags, empty bottles, rotten fruit and a broken chair. Among the items inventoried from Saddam's hideout: a handful of Bounty and Mars brand candy bars, hot dogs, a can of 7-UP (the un-Cola), a long, black Arab robe, two T-shirts, two pairs of white cotton boxers, a pair of slippers with gold-colored buckles, old textbooks, stale bread, leftover rice, and dirty dishes. How did Saddam breathe down there? A tin exhaust pipe strung up with salami and figs served as a ventilation duct. Outside the hole, a ditch appeared to have been set up as a makeshift toilet. Also confiscated were two AK-47 rifles and $750,000 in U.S. currency. Not even Saddam trusts the Euro.

Saddam was trapped, "literally like a rat," according to anchorperson Tom Brokaw, and taken prisoner "in a truly pathetic manner." He seemed resigned to his fate, and reaction among the Iraqi community ranged from joy to embarrassment that he hadn't put up a struggle. Former Clinton advisor George Stephanopolus was incredulous, wondering aloud why Saddam hadn't simply killed himself. As images of Saddam being checked for head lice and probed with a tongue depressor were trumpeted across the world in violation of the Geneva Conventions, White House staff declared the Bush administration a "gloat-free zone". NASDAQ surged, but ultimately the capture of a weakened, dottering old man is only vaguely symbolic, and about as politically significant as the inevitable incarceration of Don Knotts.

The new Iraqi government, such as it is, wisely jumped ahead of any U.S. statement to declare that Saddam would face a Nuremberg-style show trial for his War Crimes. Charges of genocide were filed in July 2005, and the trial lurched along for nearly a year and a half, through two hunger strikes and the deaths of several attorneys, before reaching a verdict of guilty. Saddam was executed by hanging on the morning of 30 December 2006.


The Crimes of Saddam Hussein

O One month into the first Gulf War, in February 1991, President George H.W. Bush called on the Iraqi people to stage a coup. He asked them “to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside.” Millions heard the call. If the United States, which was then bombing Iraq, was on their side, they felt sure they could depose Saddam.

Uprisings by Shi’iah rebels began to take shape in the south. The Iraqi army had been routed by the Coalition, and many Shi’iah soldiers changed sides and joined the insurrection. The revolt spread through southern towns and cities, where rebels attacked Ba’ath Party buildings. Soon the intifada reached Basra, near the Kuwaiti border. A tank gunner fired a round into a portrait of Saddam, and soldiers around him applauded jubilantly. Within days, the uprising spread to Karbala, Najaf and Kufa, deep inside the Shi’iah heartland. Najaf was in chaos. A demonstration near the city’s great shrine became a gun battle between army deserters and Saddam’s security forces. The security men were outnumbered some were hacked to death with knives. The rebels seized the shrine, and Ba’ath Party leaders fled the city or were killed.

The Kurds in the north also rose up, in a bid for autonomy. Masoud Barzani, head of the KDP, and Jalal Talabani, leader of the PUK, had made an alliance before the end of the war. Their peshmerga guerrilla forces were tough fighters, and they had infiltrated the Jash, a Kurdish militia recruited by Saddam. On March 5, Jash fighters seized control of the mountain town of Rania. Soon the revolt spread to Sulaimaniya, near the Iranian border, where rebels captured the Central Security headquarters. Inside, they found torture devices smeared with blood and rooms holding the corpses of strangled women and children, victims of Saddam’s executioners. In retaliation, the rebels massacred any Ba’ath officials and police officers they could find. Two weeks later, the rebellion captured the oil center of Kirkuk.

The emboldened rebels wanted to move on Baghdad. They asked for support from the allied forces, still on the ground in southern Iraq, but were rebuffed. The Americans feared the Shi’iah insurgents were aligned with Iranian Islamists. With that, the uprising was doomed. Soon came the counterattack from Baghdad. Saddam’s Republican Guard fought the resistance in Karbala. Civilians and rebels fled the city. On the roads leading out, Iraqi army helicopter crews poured kerosene on the refugees, then set them on fire. American aircraft circled high overhead, watching. Saddam’s forces began systematically crushing the uprising. Basra was the first city to fall, after just a week out of Saddam’s control. Iraqi tanks captured a road above the city and pelted it with heavy machine guns. Basra General Hospital issued 600 death certificates, though many more were killed. There were mass executions of civilians, some of whom were tied to tanks and used as human shields. In Karbala, some of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrines were destroyed. Others were used as centers for murder, torture and rape. In Najaf, residential areas were bombed, and hospital staff and patients were murdered. The homes of suspected rebels were destroyed while the suspects were executed in the streets.

Next Saddam redirected his forces to the North. Kirkuk was bombarded with artillery, and hospitals were targeted. The Kurdish insurgents were in a topographical bind –– most of the cities they held sat on a plain below mountains and were impossible to defend. The rebel fighters retreated into the mountains with their families. As they backed away, Iraqi helicopters threw flour on them –– a cruel reminder of the powdery chemical weapons that killed Kurds by the thousands during Saddam’s Anfal campaign.

As cities were returned to Ba’ath rule, soldiers immediately posted pictures of Saddam. Thousands of people were “disappeared” by government forces, never to be seen again. Many were shot in the back of the head. A film from the era shows “ Chemical” Ali Hassan al–Majid kicking and slapping prisoners as they lie on the ground. “Don’t execute this one. He will be useful to us,” he says. Mass graves related to these executions have been discovered in both the south and the north.

More than 2 million Kurds fled into the snowy peaks between Iran and Turkey. Children died from typhoid, dehydration and dysentery. Some refugees were blown up by land mines. At one point in 1991, an estimated 2,000 Kurds were dying every day. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees called the exodus the largest in its 40–year history.

Later, under a Western security umbrella, the Kurds returned to set up self–rule in the three northern provinces of Arbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniya. Once autonomy was declared, many Kurds living beneath a line denoting the northern no–fly zone were killed by Saddam’s regime, according to the U.S. State Department.

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