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‘Alah Akbar!’ and ‘Long live Iraq!’: Saddam Hussein’s last words from the gallows 15 years ago

Alah akbar (God is the greatest), “shouted the former Iraqi dictator Saddam hussein shortly before he was hanged 15 years ago, on December 30, 2006, after being found guilty of the death of 148 people in 1982, mostly Shiites, in the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

Hussein had been captured by the US troops who had invaded Iraq after the attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11), on the grounds that that country stockpiled weapons of mass destruction that they were never found.

The death penalty against the 69-year-old Iraqi leader unleashed the joy of the Shiite community, the majority in Iraq, and of the Kurds, oppressed during Hussein’s presidency between 1979 and 2003.

Saddam Hussein on the gallows. Photo: AP

But it also brought out resentment that existed in the country towards the Sunni Arabs who they had backed the ex-autocrat, of the socialist Baath party.

“The court has decided to sentence Saddam Hussein al Majid to be hanged for crimes against humanity,” said Judge Rauf Abdelrrahman, following an 11-month trial in which he was held responsible for torture, deportation and murder of 148 Shiites, occurred on July 8, 1982 in Dujail.

In that way, Hussein he had taken revenge for a frustrated attack against him, orchestrated by the Shiite Dawa party, according to press reports.

The magistrate, of Kurdish origin, rejected the previous request of the former Iraqi dictator to be executed by a military squad and, on the other hand, sentenced to death to Barzan al Takriti, Hussein’s half-brother and chief of his secret police, and then-Supreme Magistrate Awad al Bander.

Saddam Hussein during the trial in which he was convicted.  Photo: AFP archive

Saddam Hussein during the trial in which he was convicted. Photo: AFP archive

The once strongman of Iraq, who held in one hand a copy of the Koran, the holy book of Muslims, did not have any gesture of regret upon knowing the sentence.

And before he was hanged, he expressed: “Alah Akbar!” and “Long live Iraq!”

From ally to enemy

Hussein was an ally of the United States in Iraq’s war against Iran between 1980 and 1988, but his good fortune fell sharply when the Iraqi leader invaded Kuwait on August 2-4, 1990.

Hussein was an ally of the United States in Iraq's war against Iran between 1980 and 1988. Photo: Reuters archive

Hussein was an ally of the United States in Iraq’s war against Iran between 1980 and 1988. Photo: Reuters archive

The invasion of the small emirate was condemned by the government of former US President George HW Bush, and all the world powers of those years, including the former Soviet Union of Mikhail Gorbachev.

Thus, the United States and its main allies launched the “Operation Desert Storm” to liberate Kuwait, after which the Iraqis were defeated militarily, but before withdrawing from said territory they set fire to the Kuwaiti oil wells.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001 against the United States, attributed by the White House to the Saudi Islamist network Al Qaeda, President George W. Bush, son of HW Bush, invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.

On December 13, 2003, Hussein was captured without resistance by American troops, when he was hidden 30 kilometers from his hometown, Tikrit, after Washington offered a $ 25 million reward for knowing any information leading to his arrest or death.

On December 13, 2003, Hussein was captured without resistance.  Photo: AFP

On December 13, 2003, Hussein was captured without resistance. Photo: AFP

Bearded, much older, the former Iraqi dictator was hiding in a hut, where a hole had been dug in the ground, between 1.80 and 2.40 meters deep, disguised with bricks and sand.

Five years later, in early December 2008, during an interview with the American network ABC. News, former President Bush admitted that one of the biggest mistakes of his Government was to believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Today, US troops no longer carry out combat missions in Iraq, according to an agreement signed in July between the government of President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi; but the country remains mired in instability, with attacks and religious and political struggles.

Agencies

ap

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