Saddam Executed; An Era Comes to an End

Dec 30, 2006 12:05am

Saddam Hussein was no stranger to the gallows. One seen by ABC News back in 2003 was used for thousands of Iraqis he deemed enemies, a twin gallows at his regime’s most active execution site, the Abu Ghraib prison, seen here before the U.S. military moved in and brought further infamy to this place of cruelty and death. "One question I’ve always had is, ‘Why didn’t the Iraqis rise up against Saddam?’ And the reason is this prison," former CIA agent Robert Baer told ABC News. "Because they knew that if they even whispered a word of dissent, they would end up here for their entire lives, either tortured to death or dying in one of these cells. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Photos Saddam and His Mark on Iraq Meet Saddam’s Chemical Weapon Click Here to Watch the Latest Brian Ross Investigates Webcast All the while, Saddam lived a palatial, royal lifestyle, spending his evenings with his mistress sipping Johnny Walker Black whiskey, listening to Frank Sinatra and watching the graphic videotapes of his victims dying or dead, including, says the mistress, those in the Kurdish village of Halabja, where his generals used poison gas. The mistress, Parisoula Lampsos, told her story to Claire Shipman of ABC News. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. "And he’d watch and he’d drink and he had his cigar, you know?" Parisoula Lampsos, his former mistress, said. "And he enjoyed…" ABC News’ Claire Shipman began. "Sometimes he put a cowboy, you know, hat," Parisoula Lampsos continued. "He has a cowboy hat?" Claire Shipman asked. "Yeah," Parisoula Lampsos replied. "And he would enjoy watching these videos?" Claire Shipman asked. "Yes, ha, ha, ha. He was happy, happy the happiest day," Parisoula Lampsos answered. "Indeed, Saddam seems to have had a fascination in a very grotesque way with luxury. What Saddam seemed to have cared for is building more castles, more palaces, more, more places of luxury in order to indulge in that sense of opulence," Hassan Mneimneh of the Iraqi Memory Foundation said.

And he passed on his taste for luxury and cruelty to his two sons Uday and his eldest Qusay, who himself became a cold blooded mass murderer, willing over the years to do anything to help keep his father in power. "I think his attitude is, seems mild-mannered, but his behavior is definitely extremely violent, extremely brutal," said Charles Forrest, Chief Executive Officer of INDICT, established in 1996 for the creation of an ad hoc international crime tribunal to try members of the now former Iraqi regime.

American authorities had a wealth of evidence of Qusay’s brutal and violent behavior, including this videotape, smuggled out of Iraq by a defector and obtained by ABC News. It shows Qusay calling the shots at a bizarre cult-like performance in Baghdad six years ago.

"This gives us a rare glimpse into Qusay’s character. I mean, this man, it seems to me, is not deterred by pain and blood. He enjoys these bloody rituals. And I think what we have seen tallies with the nasty picture we have of Qusay,"said Professor Fawaz Gerges of Sarah Lawrence College and now an ABC News consultant. In 1991, just after the first Gulf War, it was Qusay who American authorities say brutally put down a rebellion by Shiite Muslims against his father in the city of Basra. As many as 250,000 people were killed, according to human rights groups.

"We have a witness who’s actually seen political prisoners being taken and dumped into a kind of wood chipper. Some of them were put in head first; others were put in feet first," said Forrest. "And Qusay was standing there supervising this whole process."

The other son Uday was just as diabolical, if not more so. "Uday Hussein is like any bully. He enjoys exercising power on those who are weak. And when he is threatened, he behaves like a coward," explains Peter Galbraith, a former U.S. diplomat. With his dictator father looking the other way, Uday had free reign, amassing a fortune in a country of great poverty. He was seen in a red Rolls Royce, a $200,000 car, just one of some 1,200 luxury cars former aides say Uday bought or simply took because it suited his fancy.

"Uday Hussein is a spoiled child but one with lots of power," Galbraith said. This man was on the Olympic soccer team that lost to Jordan and was sent to prison by Uday as punishment for the defeat.

"Well, they took me straightaway to the prison. And every single day I’ve been beat in my feet and 20 a day. And I’m not allowed to eat or drink, just a glass of water and piece of bread," a former Iraqi Olympic athlete said.

Another defector, the flag bearer for the Iraqi team at the Atlanta Olympics, he has his own account of torture at Uday’s direction.

"They used special sticks, electric sticks, pipes filled with stones. You have no idea how brutal these guys are," another Iraqi athlete said.

But the real horror story about Uday was what happened at night in Baghdad, the bizarre sexual behavior and rapes for which he became notorious. "Everybody in Iraq fear Uday," said Abbas al-Janabi, a former aide to Uday Hussein.

Abbas al-Janabi was once one of Uday’s closest aides, his press secretary, and he says, a witness to repeated rapes and murders. "Because of his nature, he sometimes like to rape," al-Janabi said.  "Raping is one of his, let me say, hobbies… And I am not exaggerating." Saddam could tolerate a family of rapists and murderers, but not one that showed any disloyalty to him. "When anyone came to see Saddam, including his own family, or the most senior officials of his government, he had them all strip-searched before they would come in, before he would allow them to come in and see him. And these are, these are the people that were absolutely the closest to him," said former CIA director Robert Gates. When his two sons-in-law defected and worked with the CIA, he urged them to return to their wives, his daughters and promised forgiveness. Once they were back, he had them executed, sending a powerful message. "The regime in any action it took always wanted to instill fear in any of its survivors. The idea is to kill as many as you want to kill, and the remainder should live in fear of you, in order to obey you, in order to become docile for the actuation you want them to do," Mneimneh explained. For some who lived through the Saddam’s reign of terror in Iraq, his execution came too soon and too easily. Taymour Roghazi was a teenager when his entire village was herded into a mass grave and machine-gunned by Iraqi troops. He was the only survivor. Now in his 30s and living in Virginia, he wanted Saddam to die a more humiliating death. "I would love to see him die, you know, him being hanged on a tree or somewhere, in the middle of the road that everybody, you know, see him and throw a rock at him. Just to show to people, that’s what he is. And now, it’s payback time," said survivor Taymour Roghazi. Uday and Qusay were killed by U.S. forces in a gunfight outside Mosul three years ago, sparing them the fate their father met today. "Uh, it is really up to Iraqi society, up to history to decide whether justice with a capital J has been done.  But justice with a small J — by that I mean a system of justice that Saddam had denied any and all of his opponents — absolutely has been done.  It has followed the course," Mneimneh said.

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