A final letter was posted from Saddam Hussein urging Iraqis to embrace “brotherly coexistence” and not to hate the U.S.-led foreign troops. Admittedly, the tone might have been intended to ingratiate himself in such a way that his life would be spared; however, after his own reign of terror he would not be granted such clemency. Iraq’s highest court upheld his death sentence and ordered his execution within 30 days. He was hanged today.
The former leader said, “I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking. I also call on you not to hate the people of the other countries that attacked us.”
Despite the tension and murder between Sunni Arabs and Shiite Muslims, he asked his people to “remember that God has enabled you to become an example of love, forgiveness and brotherly coexistence.” Nevertheless, he still chose sides in telling his Sunni Arab insurgency, “Long live jihad and the mujahedeen.”
I guess he thought he could play both sides against the middle? Or maybe all this reflected his confused if very complex way of thinking about Iraq? He urged patience and trust that God was on their side in battling “against the unjust nations.”
Saddam’s last words were poignant, “Here, I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if he wants, he will send it to heaven with the martyrs.”
Speaking of the earthly court that had ruled against him, he criticized, “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.”
He wrote to the nation, “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 honest believer.”
Just before the rope was stretched around his neck, Saddam yelled: “God is great! The nation will be victorious and Palestine is Arab!”
Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Vatican’s Justice and Peace department, was quoted in Italy’s Repubblica newspaper on Thursday saying there was a chance for last-minute clemency for Saddam after an appeals court upheld his death sentence. “There’s still a period of 30 days (before the death sentence must be carried out), the president’s signature is required, things can happen,” Martino stated. The Cardinal was wrong, and it was ruled that the president’s signature was NOT required. He also opposed the death penalty.
“I hope a crime will not be compensated with another crime. The Church says that human life must be protected from conception until a natural death. The death penalty isn’t a natural death. Nobody can give death, not even the state.”
Embracing a Quran and refusing a blindfold or hood, Saddam Hussein went to the gallows before sunrise today.
The Associated Press report can be read at:
People of Baghdad’s Shiite enclave danced in the streets while others fired guns in the air to celebrate the former dictator’s demise. Saddam went to his death repeating a prayer after a Sunni Muslim cleric by his side.
56 days ago the court had convicted Saddam and sentenced him to death for his part in the murder of 148 Shiite Muslims from a village where assassins tried to kill him in 1982. Iraq’s highest court rejected his appeal on Monday and ordered him executed within 30 days. He was executed at a former military intelligence headquarters in Baghdad’s Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah.
He did not ask for anything.
Jamil Abu-Bakr, a leading member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, warned: “If Bush thought that he achieved victory with this move, he is wrong because the Iraqi resistance will be intensified and the hatred of America will increase in the region.”
Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri, a former Iraqi military commander and VP and Deputy Chairman of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council prior to the invasion, says that the execution was a false vbictory. Also wanted for war crimes, and purportedly hiding in Syria, he said: “They think this is a victory, the execution of President Saddam. They have no other victory to claim. There is no new Iraq, no new democracy, no example for the region.”
Should Hussein have been executed at this time, given that other charges and trials are still pending?
Should the Iraqi president have signed off on the execution?
Should the full thirty days and possible appeals have been exhausted first?
What does his hanging communicate? Is it justice as the Iraqi courts and the Bush Administration claim? Is the death sentence inherently immoral and as Catholic representatives have claimed, a crime in response to other crimes?
Will the execution serve to make him a martyr?