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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ: VIOLENCE PREVAILS; VIDEO OF THE
EXECUTION

Hussein death video is aired

December 31, 2006|Molly Hennessy-Fiske | Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD — In a grainy video of Saddam Hussein's execution shown on television here early today, new details emerged about the deposed Iraqi president's final moments.

In the video, which seems to have been shot with a cellphone, Hussein is led into a small, darkened concrete room, a red metal gallows at the center, a brown rope dangling.

Dressed in a long black coat, white dress shirt and with a black scarf around his neck, he appears alert and composed, turning his head to take in the room.

The video apparently starts moments after Hussein handed over his Koran, asking that it be given to the son of Awad Hamed Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court who was tried and sentenced to death with the former president. Bandar's son has been working for Hussein's defense team in the U.S.fortified Green Zone; his request to visit Hussein was denied Friday by American authorities.

Hussein is then led up a gray metal staircase to the gallows without any struggle by half a dozen guards wearing black ski masks and leather jackets. His hands appear to be bound. An earlier video, first released to state-run Al Iraqiya television, showed him being escorted, hands bound, as guards wrapped a black scarf around his neck to shield it from the noose.

"Oh God," Hussein says, and someone in the crowd begins to chant, "Prayers for Muhammad and the family of Muhammad."

The crowd joins in, "Prayers for Muhammad and the family of Muhammad. Speed his release, curse his enemies, Muqtada, Muqtada," a reference to anti-U.S. Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr, whose father is believed to have been assassinated by Hussein's forces.

Hussein scowls, spitting out: "Muqtada, Muqtada!" and another man repeats the name of Sadr's late uncle, who was imprisoned and executed by Hussein: "Long live Mohammed Bakr al-Sadr."

"Do you call this manliness?" Hussein asks.

"To hell with him," the man replies, as another man in the crowd tells him to calm down, adding, "The man is about to be executed."

Hussein then begins repeating a Muslim verse traditionally recited before dying: "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet. There is no God but God and Muhammad ... "

Before Hussein can finish, the trap door opens beneath him with a snap, and he can be seen plunging to his death.

"The tyrant has fallen!" crowd members exclaim; some begin chanting, "Muqtada."

Moments later, Hussein's body can be seen with the noose still wrapped around the neck, as the crowd shouts, "Allah, Muhammad!"

molly.hennessy-fiske @latimes.com

Times staff writer Said Rifai contributed to this report.

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