SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI







THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

A shrewd tactical mind with a taste
for violence
Baghdad, December 30
Saddam Hussein combined a shrewd tactical mind with a taste for violence as he rose from humble beginnings to enjoy three decades of absolute power in Iraq. But overarching ambition, which saw him invade neighbouring Iran and Kuwait and defy former US allies, who accused him of developing nuclear and chemical weapons, destroyed Iraq’s oil-rich economy and finally brought him down.

Fatherless poverty to total power and a tragic end










EARLIER STORIES


Bush says hanging a milestone
Crawford (Texas), December 30
US President George W. Bush said Saddam Hussein’s execution would not end violence in Iraq. While Bush called Saddam’s death an important milestone, he noted it came “at the end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops,” and said “difficult choices and more sacrifices” lie ahead in Iraq.

Policemen hold up their weapons as they celebrate in a street in Basra, south of Baghdad, after Saddam Husein’s execution

Pakistani Muslims set fire to a US flag during a demonstration in Karachi, against the execution

(Left) Policemen hold up their weapons as they celebrate in a street in Basra, south of Baghdad, after Saddam Husein’s execution on Saturday. (Right) Pakistani Muslims set fire to a US flag during a demonstration in Karachi, against the execution. — AFP/Reuters photo

fall from grace
fall from grace

and beginning of the end...
and beginning of the end...
Bush slept as Saddam took the last walk
Crawford (Texas), December 30
US President George W. Bush came to know at 6.15 pm yesterday (5.45 am IST today) that Saddam Hussein would be executed in a few hours but was asleep when the ousted dictator was hanged, a spokesman said. “The President concluded his day knowing that the final phase of bringing Saddam Hussein to justice was underway,” said deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel.
Saddam brandishing a Russian-made AK-47 assault rifle during his visit to villages in northern Iraq in 1998
Saddam brandishing a Russian-made AK-47 assault rifle during his visit to villages in northern Iraq in 1998. — AFP
In his office in Baghdad during early 1980s
In his office in Baghdad during early 1980s. — AFP

Residents seethe with anger in Saddam’s village
Awja, December 30
Residents in the impoverished village where Saddam Hussein was born seethed with anger today at the hanging of the ousted president and said he was now a martyr in the fight against the US-backed government.

‘The body will not go outside Iraq’
Baghdad, December 30
Saddam Hussein will be buried in Iraq, but the government is not yet ready to say exactly where, an official in the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said today. “The body will not go outside Iraq.

‘He was not just any father’
Amman, December 30
Saddam Hussein’s two older daughters, who live in Jordan, reacted with grief and stoicism today to news of his hanging, one of the former Iraqi dictator’s lawyers in Amman said.

Sad: Pak
Islamabad, December 30
Pakistan today described deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's execution as a ''sad event'', representing a poignant reminder of continuing violence in the war-torn country.

Saddam with son Uday (left) and Quasay in happier times
Saddam with son Uday (left) and Quasay in happier times

Blast at Madrid airport; 26 hurt
Madrid, December 30 
A car bomb exploded at Madrid's international airport, injuring four persons today after an anonymous warning on the telephone and a second call claiming it was the work of Basque rebels ETA, the Spanish authorities said. — Reuters






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A shrewd tactical mind with a taste for violence
Ibon Villelabeitia

During Gulf War:

“We will chase (Americans) to every corner at all times. No high tower of steel will protect them against the fire of truth.”On the 9/11 attacks:

“The USA is reaping the thorns its rulers have sown in the world.”

Message to UN General Assembly (September 2002):

“The US administration wants to destroy Iraq in order to control the Middle East’s oil and consequently control the politics as well as the oil and economic policies of the whole world.”

During his trial (December 20):

“Even if they put me in hellfire, God forgive me, let them put me in fire with the firewood that wanted to burn Abraham and I would say ‘Fine, for the sake of Iraq.’ And I will not cry, for my heart is full of belief.”

Ahead of execution:

“Here I offer myself in sacrifice. If my soul goes down this path (of martyrdom) it will face God in serenity.”

Baghdad, December 30
Saddam Hussein combined a shrewd tactical mind with a taste for violence as he rose from humble beginnings to enjoy three decades of absolute power in Iraq.

But overarching ambition, which saw him invade neighbouring Iran and Kuwait and defy former US allies, who accused him of developing nuclear and chemical weapons, destroyed Iraq’s oil-rich economy and finally brought him down.

Saddam, 69, rose from fatherless poverty in Tikrit to seize power in a 1968 coup with his pan-Arab Baath party.

He went from being the Baath’s power-behind-the-throne to Iraq’s presidency in 1979 and invaded Iran the following year, launching a war that lasted eight years and killed hundreds of thousands of people, scarring an entire generation.

His rule crumbled when US tanks swept into Baghdad in April of 2003.

Saddam, meaning “one who confronts” in Arabic, was captured in December of that year when American soldiers found him in a hole near his hometown of Tikrit.

He had vowed to go down fighting, as his sons did months before, but gave up without firing a shot. US forces said Saddam was disoriented when they found him in a pit covered with polystyrene and a rug, near a simple shack in an orange grove.

“I am the President of Iraq and I want to negotiate,” he told soldiers who found him.

A US general said he was caught “like a rat” and many Arabs who had admired his defiance of the USA were shocked by his failure to fight back.

Saddam became president in 1979 after using his skills as a street fighter and conspirator to get the Baath party into power.

Surrounding himself with relatives from his hometown of Tikrit, he maintained an iron grip on Iraq despite bloody wars, uprisings, coup plots and assassination attempts.

His ruthless rule, during which his enemies say hundreds of thousands of people died, largely kept the lid on simmering tensions between Arabs and Kurds and between majority Shi’ite Muslims and the strongman’s once-dominant fellow Sunnis.

Once an ally of the USA, which aided him in his war against Shi’ite Islamist Iran, he was demonised by Western leaders after his army invaded Washington’s ally Kuwait in 1990.

His description of the first Gulf War as the “mother of all battles” has entered the lexicon.

For some years, US policy was to contain Saddam but after the September 11 attacks in 2001, Bush chose Iraq as the next target in his “war on terror” after Afghanistan. — Reuters

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Bush says hanging a milestone

Crawford (Texas), December 30
US President George W. Bush said Saddam Hussein’s execution would not end violence in Iraq.

While Bush called Saddam’s death an important milestone, he noted it came “at the end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops,” and said “difficult choices and more sacrifices” lie ahead in Iraq.

His carefully measured words, issued in a written statement from his Texas ranch, contrasted with scenes of jubilation in Dearborn, Michigan, a Detroit suburb that is home to the largest Arab-American community in the USA and where Saddam was widely hated by Iraqi expatriates.

MOSCOW: Russia said it regretted the execution of Saddam and expressed concerns that his death could trigger a new spiral of violence in Iraq.

“Regrettably, repeated calls by representatives of various nations and international organisations to the Iraqi authorities to refrain from capital punishment were not heard,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urged Saddam’s fellow Sunni Baathists to reconsider their tactics and join the political process.

“I urged followers of the ousted regime to reconsider their stance as the door is still open to anyone who has no innocent blood on his hands, to help in rebuilding an Iraq for all Iraqis,” Maliki said in a statement.

LONDON: Britain said Saddam had been “held to account” but reiterated its opposition to the use of the death penalty.

“He has now been held to account,” said Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett, adding that the British government did not support capital punishment in Iraq or anywhere else.

France, staunchly opposed to the death penalty, called on Iraqis to work towards reconciliation and national unity after the execution of Saddam.

Japan, a close US ally, said it respected Iraq’s decision to execute Saddam, saying the move was based on the “rule of law”. “This is a decision made by Iraq’s new government on the rule of law,” a foreign ministry official said.

VATICAN CITY: The execution of Saddam was a “tragic event like all capital punishments” and risked fomenting a spirit of vendetta and sowing new violence in Iraq, the Vatican said.

SPIN BOLDAK: A top commander of Taliban said the execution of Saddam would galvanise Muslim opposition to the USA.

Mullah Obaidullah Akhund, a former Taliban defence minister and top insurgent commander, also said the execution on Eid al-Adha was a provocation.

“His death will boost the morale of Muslims. The jihad in Iraq will be intensified and attacks on invader forces will increase,” he said.

In Kabul, President Hamid Karzai declined to comment on the execution, saying it was a matter for the government of Iraq and would have no impact on Afghanistan.

However, he too suggested the timing of the execution on Eid was wrong. — Reuters

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Bush slept as Saddam took the last walk

Crawford (Texas), December 30
US President George W. Bush came to know at 6.15 pm yesterday (5.45 am IST today) that Saddam Hussein would be executed in a few hours but was asleep when the ousted dictator was hanged, a spokesman said.

“The President concluded his day knowing that the final phase of bringing Saddam Hussein to justice was underway,” said deputy White House press secretary Scott Stanzel.

Asked whether that meant Mr Bush was asleep when Saddam and two former members of his regime were hanged in succession in the early morning hours of Baghdad, Stanzel replied, “That’s correct.”

Mr Bush, here on his Texas ranch to usher in 2007, would have been awakened “if there had been a departure from the plan” but “the execution went forward as planned,” Stanzel told mediapersons.

White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley briefed Mr Bush by telephone at 6:15 pm yesterday on “the entire process” of bringing Saddam to the gallows, said Stanzel.

Hadley had himself learned about this from the US ambassador to Iraq, Mr Zalmay Khalilzad, who had been informed by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki “that the execution would go forward in the next few hours,” he said.

The White House put out a statement from Mr Bush after Saddam’s execution.

US forces on high alert

The Pentagon said that US forces in Iraq are ready for any escalation of violence associated with the execution of former President Saddam Hussein.

“US forces in Iraq are obviously at a high state of alert anytime because of the environment that they operate in and because of the current security situation,” Defence Department spokesman Bryan Whitman said yesterday, hours before Saddam was hanged.

US forces will take into account “social dimensions that could potentially lead to an increase in violence, which certainly would include carrying out the sentence of Saddam Hussein,’’ Whitman said.

Americans were warned to be vigilant about the possibility of a terror attack. But an advisory that the FBI and the Homeland Security Department sent to local law enforcement agencies and intelligence community figured yesterday was routine and did not cite a specific threat.

Saddam had been in US custody since he was captured in December 2003. As his execution drew near, Saddam’s lawyers filed an appeal trying to stave it off.

However, US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who heard arguments from attorneys by phone, rejected the challenge yesterday night. She said US courts do not have jurisdiction to interfere in another country’s judicial process. — AP/AFP

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Residents seethe with anger in Saddam’s village

Awja, December 30
Residents in the impoverished village where Saddam Hussein was born seethed with anger today at the hanging of the ousted president and said he was now a martyr in the fight against the US-backed government. “If Saddam is executed, he will be a martyr and he will enter history,” a young man in his 20s said, apparently sceptical that Saddam had in fact been hanged.

“This is a mercenary court. Iraqi people reject this court. Saddam is the legal president of Iraq. If they execute him we will rise up. We will all become a bomb,” another young man said in Awja, a village of orchards and palm groves next to the Tigris river, 150 km north of Baghdad.

Saddam, 69, rose from poverty in Awja to rule Iraq by fear for three decades before he was toppled by a US invasion in 2003. He was hanged for crimes against humanity at dawn for the killing and torture of Shi’ites in the 1980s.

During his grip on power, Saddam surrounded himself with relatives from Awja and from nearby Tikrit, creating a praetorian circle of aides from the Sunni Arab Albu Nasir tribe.

Testament to Saddam’s patronage, Awja still shows today some grand villas next to more humble dwellings.

The Albu Nasir tribe wants him buried in Awja, near the graves of his two sons Uday and Qusay, who were killed in 2003 by US troops.

It was also near Awja that US forces found a dishevelled and disoriented Saddam hiding in a pit covered with polystyrene and a rug, near a simple shack in an orange grove.

The governor of Salahaddin, named after the XII century Muslim leader and Tikrit native Saladin who fought against Christian Crusaders, said he and Saddam’s tribe were negotiating to have the body returned to his family in Awja.

Tikrit was under a four-day curfew to avoid violence. — Reuters

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‘The body will not go outside Iraq’

Baghdad, December 30
Saddam Hussein will be buried in Iraq, but the government is not yet ready to say exactly where, an official in the office of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said today.

“The body will not go outside Iraq. We cannot announce the place where he will be buried now. But he should certainly be buried,” the official said.

One of the Saddam’s lawyers earlier told Sky News that the corpse would be transferred outside Iraq.

Speaking in English via telephone, Najeeb al-Nuaimi said it should be up to the toppled president’s family to decide where the body should be taken. — AFP

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‘He was not just any father’

Amman, December 30
Saddam Hussein’s two older daughters, who live in Jordan, reacted with grief and stoicism today to news of his hanging, one of the former Iraqi dictator’s lawyers in Amman said.

“Raghad Hussein and Rana Hussein gathered together with their nine children yesterday to wait for the news,” the lawyer said.

Several of Saddam’s lawyers were with them at Raghad’s residence in the west of the Jordanian capital, where the eldest daughter Raghad was said to have reacted “stoically”.

“He was their father, and he was not just any father,” the lawyer said. “You can imagine their grief.” — AFP

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Sad: Pak

Islamabad, December 30
Pakistan today described deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's execution as a ''sad event'', representing a poignant reminder of continuing violence in the war-torn country.

''The execution of Saddam Hussein, which can only be described as a sad event, is another poignant reminder of the violence that continues to grip Iraq,'' Pakistan's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasneem Aslam said here today.

Ms Aslam hoped that this event would not further exacerbate the security situation in Iraq.

Pakistanis heard the news with 'surprise and shock' with majority of people, believing that the execution would expose Iraq to possible 'disintegration' and may trigger 'sectarianism'. — UNI

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