Dec. 30, 2006 — -- Saddam Hussein was hanged for ordering the deaths of 148 Shiite men and boys in the village of Dujail after an assassination attempt there in 1982. But by the standards of his brutal rule, the Dujail killings were a relatively minor crime.
The exact number of deaths attributable to Saddam Hussein may never be known, but estimates range as high as half a million. There is evidence of more than 250 mass graves dating to his rule.
Following is a list of other crimes Saddam is accused of. The most notorious is his genocidal campaign against the Kurds in the north. The trial for those murders, and for others, will now continue with the remaining defendants.
Five leaders of the Shiite Islamic Dawa Party were sentenced to death and killed as Saddam consolidated his power. In 2004, those murders were among many charges announced against Saddam. The U.S. State Department estimates thousands of Saddam's political rivals were killed.
Thousands of Kurds of the Fayli sect were persecuted. Some were expelled to Iran, others killed. Saddam thought of them as Iranian, and therefore as enemies. Fayli women were often imprisoned or put into camps.
After the Iraqi-based Kurdistan Democratic Party allied with Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam sought to punish the clan and its leader, Massoud Barzani. More than 5,000 males, some as young as 10, disappeared. Decades later the remains of 512 Barzani men were discovered in a mass grave. They were reinterred in 2005. A letter that shows Saddam's direct involvement in the crimes was discovered in Baghdad.
From February to September 1988, Saddam conducted what has been called a genocidal campaign against the Kurdish population. Gen. Ali Hassan al-Majid, or "Chemical Ali," Saddam's cousin, carried out the Al-Anfal operation using chemical weapons. Human Rights Watch estimates between 50,000 and 100,000 died. Kurdish officials and some international human rights groups put the number killed as high as 182,000. Saddam was on trial for the Anfal campaign at the time of his execution. Six defendants remain in the Al-Anfal case, including "Chemical Ali," who is facing charges of genocide.
During the Anfal campaign, "Chemical Ali" ordered an attack against civilians in the town of Halabja. Iraqi forces dropped bombs containing mustard and nerve gases. An estimated 5,000 men, women and children died in a single day. Many more died from long-term medical problems, and birth defects are still common in the area.
Saddam attacked the Shiite "Marsh Arabs" by destroying their land. Once a significant wetland, the marshes in southern Iraq were devastated by a government drainage plan that left behind a wasteland. In 1991, 250,000 Marsh Arabs lived in the region. Now 90 percent of the area is in ruins and only an estimated 20,000 people remain. Tens of thousands live in refugee camps in Iran. Efforts are now underway to restore the marshes. Human Rights Watch calls the campaign against the Marsh Arabs a crime against humanity and other rights activists call it genocide. There are claims chemical weapons also were used.
In August of 1990, Saddam ordered the Iraqi military, the fourth largest military in the world at the time, to invade Kuwait, leading to the 1991 Gulf War. Iraqi soldiers are accused of torturing and executing hundreds of Kuwaitis, as well as taking hostages and looting. More than 700 oil wells were set on fire and pipelines opened, spilling oil into the Gulf.
After heeding President George H.W. Bush's call to rebel against Saddam, Shiites and Kurds were crushed by immense Iraqi military force. Saddam turned his military against the people as part of his widespread crackdown after the war. The rebels thought they would have the backing of the U.S. military. Thousands have been discovered in mass graves.
Ayatollah Muhammed al-Sadr, father of prominent Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and two of his sons were assassinated in 1999. Al-Sadr was a well-liked Shiite leader, and his death spawned Shiite uprisings in Baghdad. As he had previously, Saddam cracked down on the rebellion and hundreds were killed.
In a statement responding to the execution, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki said, "Let the families of Iraqi martyrs killed in mass graves, Anfal, Halabja or those executed in the cells of the dead regime be happy. The mothers, orphans and widows should celebrate the death of the buried dictator."