The Associated Press
Saddam Hussein was buried before dawn Sunday in his native village
of Awja, near Tikrit, in northern Iraq, local officials and family
New, grainy images appeared on the Internet showing the former Iraqi
president being hanged in Baghdad less than 24 hours earlier, showing
his body dropping through the trap, something the officially-released
video had not shown.
Mohammed al-Qaisi, governor of the Salahaddin region, said he
attended the funeral, which lasted about 25 minutes. Also present was
Ali al-Nida, head of Saddam’s Albu Nasir tribe.
A source close to Saddam’s family also confirmed that his remains
were interred at Awja, where his sons, Uday and Qusay, killed by U.S.
troops in 2003, lie in a family plot in the cemetery. The family had
said on Saturday that it wanted him buried in the western city of
Ramadi, another stronghold of the Sunni insurgency.
A source close to leading local Sunni Muslim clerics who took part
in the proceedings, said U.S. and Iraqi troops kept a close guard over
the event and insisted on a burial in the grounds of a mosque erected
by Saddam in the 1980s.
Arab television stations broadcast new video images of Saddam’s
hanging, apparently shot on a low-quality camera by guards or other
officials at the execution, taken from a different angle from footage
shown on Iraqi state television.
One video on the Internet shows Saddam drop through the trap while
still intoning the Muslim profession of faith. He was abruptly cut off
in the second verse: "I bear witness that Mohammad…" He was also
shown hanging, with his eyes open.
The new video also bore out witness comments on Saturday that the
69- year-old former strongman, who looked calm and composed as he stood
on the gallows, had shouted angry political slogans while masked guards
were bringing him into the execution chamber once used by his own
feared intelligence services.
Tribal elders in Tikrit, on the Tigris river 175 kilometers, or 110
miles, north of Baghdad, took delivery of the body Saturday, an Iraqi
government source confirmed. A lawyer for Saddam said it was sent
aboard a U.S. military aircraft.
Iraq’s 27 million people spent much of Saturday crowding around
television sets to watch mesmerizing replays of a videotape that showed
Saddam being led to the gallows at dawn by five masked executioners,
and having a noose fashioned from a thick rope of yellow hemp lowered
around his neck. In the final moments shown on the videotape, he seemed
almost unnaturally calm and cooperative.
But the videotape, released by the government, offered only a
partial sense of how Saddam went to his death, according to accounts
given later by some of the 25 people who attended the execution,
including senior officials of the new Shiite-led government.
In their telling, the ousted ruler, a Sunni, spent much of his last
half-hour, after arriving at the execution block at the Khadimiyah
prison in northern Baghdad, in querulous and at times irascible
exchanges with the Shiite guards and executioners assigned to hang him
and with some of the Shiite witnesses.
The final hour of Iraq’s former ruler began about 5 a.m., when
American troops escorted him from Camp Cropper, near the Baghdad
airport, to another American base at the heart of the city, Camp
There, he was handed over to a newly trained unit of the Iraqi National Police, with whom he would later exchange curses.
Two American helicopters flew 14 witnesses from the Green Zone to
the execution site, a former headquarters of the deposed government’s
much-feared military intelligence outfit, the Istikhbarat, now inside
the American base.
Saddam was escorted into the room where the gallows stood, greeted
at the door by three masked executioners, known as Ashmawi. Several of
the witnesses present — including Munkith al- Faroun, the deputy
prosecutor for the court; Munir Haddad, the deputy chief judge for the
Iraqi High Tribunal; and Sami al-Askari, a member of Parliament —
described in detail how the execution unfolded and independently
recounted what was said.
To protect himself from the bitter cold before dawn during, Saddam
wore a wool cap, a scarf and a long black coat over a white collared
His executioners wore black ski masks, but Saddam could see their
deep brown skin and hear their dialects, distinct to the Shiite
southern part of the country. With the witnesses and another 11 people,
including guards and the video crew, it was cramped. Saddam’s eyes
darted about, trying to take in just who was going to put an end to him.
The executioners took his hat and his scarf. Saddam, whose hands
were bound in front of him, was taken to the judge’s room next door. He
followed each order he was given.
He sat down and the verdict, finding him guilty of crimes against humanity, was read aloud.
"Long live the nation!" Saddam shouted. "Long live the people! Long live the Palestinians!"
He continued shouting until the verdict was read in full, and then he composed himself again.
When he rose to be led back to the execution room, he looked strong, confident and incredibly calm.
The national security adviser in Iraq, Mouwaffak al-Rubaie, asked him if he had any remorse or fear.
"No," he said bluntly. "I am a militant and I have no fear for
myself. I have spent my life in jihad and fighting aggression. Anyone
who takes this route should not be afraid."
One of the guards, though, became angry. "You have destroyed us,"
the masked man yelled. "You have killed us. You have made us live in
Saddam was scornful. "I have saved you from destitution and misery and destroyed your enemies, the Persians and Americans."
The guard cursed him. "God damn you."
Saddam replied, "God damn you."
Saddam was led up to the gallows without a struggle. His hands were
unbound, put behind his back, then fastened again. He showed no
remorse. He held his head high.
The executioners offered him a hood. He refused. They explained that
the thick rope could cut through his neck and offered to use the scarf
he had worn earlier to keep that from happening. Saddam accepted.
The platform he stood on was very high, with a deep hole beneath it.
At 6:10 a.m., the trapdoor swung open. He seemed to fall a good
distance, but he died swiftly. After a minute, he was not moving. His
eyes still were open but he was dead. Despite the scarf, the rope cut a
gash into his neck.
His body stayed hanging for another nine minutes as those in
attendance broke out in prayer, praising the Prophet, at the death of a
Within hours of the execution Saturday, at least 75 people were
killed in nine bombing attacks of the kind that Sunni insurgents
commonly carry out against Shiites. $@