Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Story of the Day-Chemical Ali
Ali Hassan Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (Arabic: علي حسن عبد المجيد التكريتي transliteration: ʿAlī Ḥasan ʿAbd al-Majīd al-Tikrītī, born 1941) is a former Ba'athist Iraqi Defense Minister and military commander. A first cousin of former President of Iraq Saddam Hussein, he became notorious in the 1980s and 1990s for his role in the Iraqi government's campaigns of deportations and mass killings against its Kurdish and Shi'ite populations. He was captured following the 2003 invasion of Iraq and was charged with war crimes. He was convicted in June 2007 and was sentenced to death for crimes committed in the al-Anfal campaign of the 1980s. He was dubbed "Chemical Ali" by Iraqi Kurds for his use of chemical weapons in attacks against them.
Ali Hassan al-Majid
Ali Hassan'al-Majid (born 1943) is a former Iraqi official and commander. He is a first cousin of former President Saddam Hussein, he was the Defense Minister of Iraq.
Anfal and the Gulf War
He has been called Chemical Ali and the Butcher of Kurdistan for his role in leading the al-Anfal Campaign during which he ordered a chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja that killed thousands of Kurds (see Halabja poison gas attack).
He oversaw the occupation of Kuwait in 1990 and 1991 and acted as the the country's military governor from August to November of 1990. He had a lead role in violently repressing the rebellions by Kurds and Shiites in the 1991 Iraqi civil war following the Gulf War.
After Gulf War
Considered a war criminal by human rights groups, he was placed by Saddam Hussein in charge of southern Iraq to quell any civilian uprisings and military mutinies.  "He is a senior adviser to Saddam. He is known as an enforcer for the regime," said a U.S. intelligence official, who asked not to be named. "He is used to put down uprisings and maintain order." . In this role in which he took the title 'Commander of the Southern Region' he violently repressed a 1999 revolt against Saddam's regime which, according to a recent Human Rights Watch report, resulted in the death of hundreds of young Shiite men and their burial in mass graves around Basra. 
2003 Gulf War
Al-Majid had been mistakenly thought to have died in April of 2003, following the US-led 2003 Invasion of Iraq. After a coalition attack on his house in Basra, he was reported to have been killed by laser-guided bombs. "Major Andrew Jackson, of the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, said that the body was found along with that of his bodyguard and the head of Iraqi intelligence services in Basra." 
It turned out that U.K. military officials spoke too soon. In June 2003, al-Majid's status was changed from "...believed dead but unconfirmed" to "unknown" by U.S. defense officials, saying he might still be alive after all. He was rumored to have been joking and smiling in a Baghdad hospital on the day that it fell. This proved to be a justified doubt - U.S. officials confirmed on August 21, 2003 that he had been captured alive. He was prominent (fifth) on the U.S. list of most-wanted Iraqis and is the King of Spades in the deck of most-wanted Iraqi playing cards.
Al-Majid is currently standing trial for his alleged role in many of the above mentioned actions before the Iraq Special Tribunal (IST), set up by the Iraq Interim Government charged with crimes against humanity and genocide.
On January 8th 2007, the trial for his and others involvement in the Anfal campaign continued while the court listened to supposed conversations between Al-Majid and Saddam Hussein regarding use of Chemical Weapons, according to CNN.com the transcript played in the trial is shown below:
"I will strike them with chemical weapons and kill them all," a voice identified by prosecutors as that of Majeed, Hussein's cousin and a senior aide, is heard saying.
"Who is going to say anything? The international community? Curse the international community," the voice continued.
"Yes, it's effective, especially on those who don't wear a mask immediately, as we understand," another voice, identified as Hussein, is heard saying on another tape.
"Sir, does it exterminate thousands?" a voice asks back.
"Yes, it exterminates thousands and forces them not to eat or drink and they will have to evacuate their homes without taking anything with them, until we can finally purge them," the voice identified as Hussein answers.
In the next few days of the trial more recordings were heard that were claimed to have been between Hussein and Al-Majid once again discussing their goals in dealing with the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq. Al-Majid on the tape allegedly calls the now President of Iraq (Jalal Talabani)"wicked and a pimp," and also promises not to leave anyone alive who speaks the Kurdish Language.
In his defense during this testimony Al-Majid's defense claims he used such language as "psychological and propaganda" tools against the Kurds, to frighten them into not fighting government forces.
"All the words used by me, such as 'deport them' or 'wipe them out,' were only for psychological effect," Al-Majeed said
In the previous session on January 11, al-Majeed told the court he ordered the displacement of Kurds from their villages in northern Iraq in the 1980s. He also acknowledged that he ordered executions of people who entered prohibited areas near the border with Iran. (source CNN article January 23, 2007)
Profile: 'Chemical Ali'
Chemical Ali's relatives shot
Chemical Ali - Iraq
Who Was Ali Hassan Al-Majid ("Chemical Ali") ?
Iraqi General Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of President Saddam Hussein, was the architect of the 1988 genocidal Anfal campaign against the Iraqi Kurds, which resulted in the murder and "disappearance" of some 100,000 Kurds.
Al-Majid was widely known in Iraq as "Chemical Ali" for his repeated use of outlawed chemical warfare, as documented in the Human Rights Watch book on that campaign, Genocide In Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds . He was later in charge of Iraq's brutal military occupation of Kuwait, and commanded Iraq's military forces in the south, where he was reportedly killed by U.S. and coalition forces.
"Al-Majid was Saddam Hussein's hatchet man," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "He was involved in some of the worst crimes of the Iraqi government, including genocide and crimes against humanity."
As secretary general of the Northern Bureau of Iraq's Ba'th Party, al-Majid held authority over all agencies of the state in the Kurdish region from March 1987 to April 1989, including the 1st and 5th Corps of the army, the General Security Directorate, and Military Intelligence. This included the period of the Anfal genocide against the region's Kurdish residents. One of his orders, dated June 20, 1987, directed army commanders "to carry out special bombardments [a reference to chemical weapon use]...to kill the largest number of persons present in ...prohibited zones."
Named after a Koranic verse justifying pillage of properties of infidels, the Anfal campaign unfolded as the 1980-1988 Iran/Iraq war was winding down. The Anfal campaign, under al-Majid's command, resulted in the murder and "disappearance" of some 100,000 noncombatants, the use of chemical weapons against noncombatants in dozens of locations, and the near-total destruction of family and community assets, including agricultural and other infrastructure, throughout the rural Kurdish areas. Documents captured from Iraqi intelligence services demonstrate that the mass killings, "disappearances," forced displacement, and other crimes were carried out in a coherent and highly centralized manner under al-Majid's direct supervision. Ali Hassan al-Majid was subsequently in charge of Iraq's military occupation of Kuwait and led forces that suppressed the popular uprising in the south of the country in March 1991. All of these campaigns were marked by executions, arbitrary arrests, "disappearances," torture, and other atrocities.
According to Iraqi opposition activists and refugee testimony, al-Majid also played a leading role in the campaign against Iraq's Marsh Arab population in the 1990s. Numbering some 250,000 people as recently as 1991, the Marsh Arabs today are believed to number fewer than 40,000 in their ancestral homeland. Many were arrested, "disappeared," or executed; most have become refugees abroad or are internally displaced in Iraq as a result of al-Majid's campaign.
"Al-Majid represented the worst of the Iraqi government, and that's saying quite a lot," said Roth. "He was a key figure in the 1988 genocide, and was responsible for other crimes against humanity, too."
"Chemical Ali" in his own words
According to a 1988 audiotape of a meeting of leading Iraqi officials published by Human Rights Watch, al-Majid vowed to use chemical weapons against the Kurds, saying:
"I will kill them all with chemical weapons! Who is going to say anything? The international community? Fuck them! the international community, and those who listen to them!
"I will not attack them with chemicals just one day, but I will continue to attack them with chemicals for fifteen days."
The Rise and Fall of "Chemical Ali"
Baghdad, June 24, (VOI) – Convicted and sentenced to five death sentences, Ali Hassan al-Majid, notoriously known as Chemical Ali for gassing thousands of Kurds in the 1980s, is now aware his days in this life are numbered.
Ali, once basking in the warmth of power of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's inner circle that ran the oil-rich country from 1979, was a policeman from Kirkuk and was soon elevated to become former Iraqi defense minister Hammadi Shihab's escort in the early 1970s, after joining the then-ruling Arab Socialist Baath (Resurrection) Party.
His rise in military ranks was coupled with ascension inside the Baath Party. He was first catapulted to the corridors of power in 1979 when Saddam Hussein, the then-new president of Iraq, wanted to get rid of Baathist leader Abdul-Khaliq al-Samarraie, when Saddam had a number of party leaders tried on charges of conspiring against the regime.
Al-Majid was known for his extreme cruelty and sworn allegiance to Saddam. He, while in charge of northern Iraq at the time, orchestrated the 1988 attacks on the Kudish village of Halabja, in what is described as a campaign of genocide that killed 5,000 ethnic Kurds in Iraq.
According to human rights watchdogs, Majid was responsible for the killing or 'disappearance' of 100,000 Kurdish civilians.
After the Iraqi occupation of neighboring Kuwait in 1990, Majid was appointed as governor of what the Iraqi authorities then called "Iraq's 19th province," in reference to Kuwait. He was relieved from his post later that year.
However Majid continued to brutally suppress opponents of Saddam. In 1991, after the second Gulf War ended, he managed to crush an uprising in southern Iraq, killing thousands of people.
Saddam, who was executed late last year on charges of committing crimes against humanity, appointed Majid as interior minister, then defense minister between the years 1991 and 1995.
Although sacked from his ministerial posts, Majid continued to occupy his position as member of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council and the Baath Party official in charge of the Sunni province of Salah al-Din, where he was born in 1941.
In 1995 Majid, Saddam's cousin, proved that his loyalty to the former Iraqi leader was undisputed.
He supervised the punishment of his own two nephews – Hussein Kamel al-Majid and Saddam Kamel al-Majid, also the husbands of two of Saddam's daughters, Raghad and Rana respectively, for escaping to neighboring Jordan for eight months.
The two brothers were brought back to Iraq and killed along with their father, Majid's brother, and others described by the official mass media at that time as "traitors." Before the beginning of the Anglo-American campaign on Iraq in 2003, Saddam appointed Majid as commander of the southern zone, after dividing Iraq into four sectors in preparation for war.
Later on it was rumored that Majid was killed with his bodyguard in an air attack on his house in Basra, but those reports turned out to be untrue.
Majid, one of the figures most wanted in the notorious pack of cards distributed by the Americans, was arrested in Samarra, Salah al-Din province, on August 21, 2003 by U.S. forces.
Standing trial, along with a group of former officials in what is widely known as the Anfal case, Majid was indicted on June 24, 2007 and received the death sentence after an Iraqi court found him guilty on charges of committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.
'Chemical Ali' captured
Coalition troops in Iraq have captured one of Saddam Hussein's top generals, Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali", US Central Command has confirmed.
The US military said General Majid - number five on the United States' list of the 55 most wanted Iraqis - was in custody of coalition forces but gave no further details about his capture.
General Majid had been reported killed by coalition bombing of his villa in Basra during the war in April, but troops failed to find his body.
He is a cousin of the deposed Iraqi leader and is notorious for his role in gas attacks against the Kurds in northern Iraq during the 1987 offensive.
He is also accused of playing a leading role in the bombing of the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq.
An unnamed US defence official told the French news agency AFP that the Iraqi general appeared to be "alive and well".
The White House welcomed General Majid's capture as "another important step in going after the remnants of the former regime".
The BBC's Jonathan Head in Baghdad says General Majid is one of the men the US has said it wants to put on trial for alleged war crimes.
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says his capture will raise hopes that his interrogation will soon lead to the arrest of Saddam Hussein himself.
His capture follows that of the former Iraqi vice-president, Taha Yassin Ramadan, on Monday.
Before the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Arab press reports cast General Majid in the part of a family kingmaker.
It was said he played a significant role in the rivalry for succession between Saddam Hussein's sons, Qusay and Uday.
When Saddam Hussein placed the country on a war footing in March this year, he appointed his cousin to head the southern region - one of four senior commanders reporting directly to the president.
General Majid earned the nickname "Chemical Ali" when he served as governor of northern Iraq in the late 1980s.
His appointment in March 1987, marked the beginning of a sustained offensive, known as the "Anfal Campaign", by Iraqi troops against the Kurdish population.
Human rights campaigners say the Iraqi army killed tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians in gas attacks and by summary execution.
His career in the north ended with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, when he became effectively "governor" of what Baghdad called "Iraq's 19th governorate".
He later served as interior and defence minister, until being relieved of his ministerial duties in 1995.
'Chemical Ali' to get first pretrial hearing
Saddam and 11 others face allegations of war crimes
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The special tribunal in Iraq set up to try deposed dictator Saddam Hussein and former members of his regime said Wednesday it would soon begin pretrial investigative hearings.
The proceedings will mark the first stage in bringing members of the ousted Iraqi government to justice for alleged war crimes.
The tribunal released a statement late Wednesday saying the hearings would be conducted "in coordination with international observers."
Saddam and 11 high-profile members of his regime face allegations of war crimes.
The Defense Ministry said Wednesday that Ali Hassan al-Majid -- also known as "Chemical Ali" -- would be tried first, possibly by the end of the month.
Another defendant, a former commander in the Iraqi army, also is expected to be among the first tried.
Al-Majid, who was taken into custody in 2003, is a cousin of Saddam and is the man thought to have ordered the 1988 chemical attack on Kurds. Most accounts of the massacre estimate more than 5,000 Kurds died.
"The full trial process will adhere strictly to both Iraqi law and international best practices," the statement said.
"All those whose trial process will start imminently have seen their lawyers, and their defense lawyers will be present throughout the hearings."
The hearings will be conducted by tribunal judges headed by Ra'ad Juhi. The statement did not name members of Saddam's former regime who would face the hearings.
The tribunal said a court spokesman would hold a news conference soon to "explain the next stages in more detail."
An informed source said the accused will be called before an investigative judge, who will ask questions to help determine if a trial is warranted.
"It could happen as early as next week," the source said.
The hearings will be confidential and the accused will have rights similar to those in U.S. courts, such as the right to counsel and the right to remain silent.
Iraq's interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, surprised many on Tuesday by announcing that trials of former regime members would begin next week.
There have been conflicting reports about the starting date for the trials, with doubts about whether they can begin soon because officials need a lot of time to build their cases.
Legal proceedings actually started in July against Saddam and his aides. (Full story)
The jailed aides include former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, who often defended the regime internationally, and Saddam's vice president, defense minister, presidential secretary and two of his half-brothers.
'Chemical Ali' trial rekindles Shiite anger toward U.S.
Relatives of victims are convinced the first President Bush betrayed them
BAGHDAD -- It was one of the bloodiest episodes in the long, brutal rule of Saddam Hussein: With Iraqi troops fleeing Kuwait ahead of advancing U.S. troops in 1991, Shiite Muslim rebels took control of cities in Iraq's south and advanced on Baghdad.
Then, with Shiite rebels just 60 miles from the capital, Saddam's forces retaliated. In the next months, tens of thousands of Shiites were rounded up and executed, their bodies pushed into mass graves with bulldozers, like dirt.
This week, 15 former officials of Saddam's regime, including the notorious "Chemical Ali," Ali Hassan al-Majid, went on trial for the mass killings -- reopening old wounds in the now-dominant Shiite community.
But the anger wasn't aimed at just the former officials, who include some of the most notorious Saddam henchmen. It was also aimed at the United States for what Shiites still remember as a betrayal.
"Those who fought Saddam and threw him out of Kuwait for his criminal acts -- killing people, looting possessions and destroying the country of Kuwait and Iraq -- ... within a minute, they became his supporters and stood beside him to kill the Iraqi people," said Imam Saleh al-Haidiri in a sermon yesterday at the Khilani mosque in central Baghdad. "And he killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in the most hideous ways."
Ibrahim Jaafer, 48, a merchant, also linked the United States to the wanton killings, which claimed his father and two brothers, whose bodies were pushed into a common grave. Mr. Jaafer fled and lived in Iran until the United States toppled Saddam in 2003. But there's little gratitude.
"Saddam is an agent for the Americans," Mr. Jaafer said. "It's known that America, Saddam and the Takfiris [Sunni extremists] are on the same side."
Those feelings help explain why the United States has found Iraq so difficult to navigate. Neither Sunnis who backed Saddam nor Shiites who were his victims fully trust the United States as a friend.
Shiites are especially concerned that the recent U.S. policy of aligning itself with former Sunni insurgents willing to fight al-Qaida in Iraq will create a Sunni force capable of striking out at the Shiite-led Iraqi government -- a view endorsed by a U.S. intelligence community report released Thursday. That report warned that alliances with the Sunnis could undermine the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Shiites trace their anger at the United States to the first Gulf War, when the United States amassed a huge force in Saudi Arabia to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait, which Saddam had seized in August 1990.
As the United States neared the end of the war, then-President George H.W. Bush went on Voice of America radio and called for the Iraqi people to rise up. "There is another way for the bloodshed to stop," the elder Mr. Bush said, "and that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside and then comply with the United Nations' resolutions and rejoin the family of peace-loving nations."
As American troops drove Iraqi forces from Kuwait, anti-Saddam forces in both the Shiite south and Kurdish north rose in revolt. The Shiites expected U.S. forces, which had cornered Iraqi army units in Iraq, to help as the Shiites seized control of cities such as Basra, Samawa and Nasariyah.
But it wasn't to be. Mr. Bush declared the war over on Feb. 27, and on March 6, 1991, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated U.S. policy: "We don't think that outside powers should be interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq."
Saddam began his counterattack, sending in helicopters and ground troops that killed thousands. U.S. forces, stationed within sight of Shiite-held cities, could do nothing; they had no orders to help.
Mr. Jaafer heard about his father and brothers' deaths from a cousin, who also was rounded up by Saddam's forces. The cousin told him that his father and brother were shot, then pushed by a bulldozer into a shallow grave. His cousin, too, should have been buried. But the burial had been incomplete, and a farmer came across him and took him home. The cousin said "Chemical Ali" had been in command of the executions.
Mr. Jaafer fled to Iran. When he returned, he filed charges against Saddam. In 2006, his cousin was shot and killed by suspected Sunni gunmen in Latifiyah, in an area south of Baghdad known as the Triangle of Death.
Chemical Ali 'threw my sons out of a chopper'
A WITNESS overnight accused "Chemical Ali", Saddam Hussein's most notorious hatchet man, of killing her sons by throwing them out of a helicopter during the crushing of an Iraqi Shiite rebellion.
Laila Kathum, testifying in the trial of 15 Saddam aides accused of crimes against humanity over the repression of the 1991 rebellion in southern Iraq, vented her fury against Ali Hassan al-Majid, widely known as "Chemical Ali".
Speaking from behind a curtain, Ms Kathum accused Saddam's army of arresting her relatives and said Majid himself had killed her two sons.
"The army detained my two sons, my brother and my niece on March 3, 1991," she told the court on the third day of the trial.
"Nine days later, my brother and niece were released and they told me that Ali Hasan al-Majid had executed my two sons."
"My niece Maitham told me that my two sons were executed by Ali Hassan al-Majid by tying their legs with a heavy brick and throwing them out of a helicopter into the Gulf."
Iraqi prosecutors allege the 15 accused oversaw the killing of up to 100,000 Shiites as Saddam's troops turned on them after their defeat at the hands of the US-led coalition forces in Kuwait in the first Gulf War.
The troops massacred people around the holy Shiite cities of Najaf and Karbala and in the Hilla and Basra regions.
Many Shiites who participated in the uprising say they had expected US forces to back them, but former US president George Bush instead ordered a halt at the Iraqi border, leaving the rebels at the mercy of Saddam's forces.
Another witness who also spoke behind the curtain and did not give his name told the court how he and his friend from Basra were tortured in prison.
He said the guards used to "count to 10 as they led us to baths".
"Anyone who missed the count and did not finish the bath used to be beaten."
He said the guards also used to "bet on who could punch us hard".
Witness Tahir Malhi Humadi said his son and daughter were killed when the army bombed his town near Basra.
"On March 19, 1991, the Republican Guards attacked and bombed my town and my son Walhan and daughter Majida were killed in the bombing," he said before chief judge Mohammed al-Khalifah al-Oreibi adjourned the trial to September 24.
Majid, Saddam's cousin and former defence minister, is the most high profile defendant in the trial.
He and two co-accused - Sultan Hashim al-Tai, also a former defence minister, and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, ex-armed forces deputy chief of operations - have already been sentenced to death at a previous trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.
An appeals court is reviewing the death sentences imposed on them for their role in the brutal massacres of Kurds during the so-called Anfal campaign of 1988, and is expected to give its decision soon.
If the panel upholds the sentence, the three will have to be executed within 30 days under Iraqi law. In that case, all charges against them in connection with the Shiite uprising would be dropped.
Officials say around 90 victims and witnesses are expected to testify against the defendants.
Since the March 2003 US-led invasion, experts have exhumed dozens of mass graves of victims killed in the uprising, and their reports are expected to be the key evidence during the trial.
Overnight, the Basra city council handed relatives the remains of 28 victims of the uprising who were killed and buried in a mass grave discovered recently.
"The remains were of 26 young men, a child who was less than two years old and a woman of 30," said Saleh al-Batat, a member of the council.
Shiites, a minority in the Muslim world, comprise 60 per cent of Iraq's population and were ruled for decades by Saddam's Sunni-led regime.
The trial of "Chemical Ali", Somalia's president arrives in Mogadishu.
Iraq's 'Chemical Ali' Goes On Trial
Saddam's Cousin, 14 Others Face Charges For Brutal Crackdown During 1991 Shiite Uprising
Saddam Hussein's cousin known as "Chemical Ali" and 14 others faced charges of crimes against humanity for the brutal crushing of a Shiite uprising after the 1991 Gulf War Tuesday as Iraq's third trial against former regime officials began with three of the defendants already sentenced to death in another case.
The Iraqi High Tribunal said the defendants are charged with engaging in widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population, and the evidence would include testimony from about 90 victims and witnesses.
Saddam's cousin and the former defense minister Ali Hassan al-Majid, who gained the nickname "Chemical Ali" after chemical attacks on Kurdish towns during the so-called Anfal campaign, entered the courtroom wearing his traditional white Arab robe and a red headdress.
The chief judge Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa told the men they were charged with crimes against humanity, which court officials said carries the maximum penalty of death by hanging.
In other recent developments:
Muqtada al-Sadr's office on Tuesday condemned the assassinations of two southern provincial governors as the radical Shiite cleric distanced himself from the killings, seen as part of a brutal contest among rival Shiite militias for control of some of Iraq's main oil regions. Authorities say a roadside bomb Monday killed the governor of Iraq's southern Muthanna province. The blast struck the convoy carrying Mohammed Ali al-Hassani at about 9 a.m., killing him and three other people.
Iraq's prime minister and Syria's autocratic leader said in a meeting Tuesday during the embattled Iraqi leader's first official visit here that despite their differences, both are interested in stabilizing Iraq. Nouri al-Maliki's three-day sojourn in Syria comes as part of his efforts to seek neighbors' help in stemming the violence
ravaging Iraq. He and Syrian President Bashar Assad appeared
briefly before cameras before going into a closed meeting Tuesday.
U.S. military officials are narrowing the range of Iraq strategy options and appear to be focusing on reducing the U.S. combat role in 2008 while increasing training of Iraqi forces, a senior military official told The Associated Press on Monday. The military has not yet developed a plan for a substantial withdrawal of forces next year. But officials are laying the groundwork for possible overtures to Turkey and Jordan on using their territory to move some troops and equipment out of Iraq, the official said. The main exit would remain Kuwait, but additional routes would make it easier and more secure for U.S. troops leaving western and northern Iraq.
In a joint statement Monday, Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Carl
Levin, D-Mich., said that while the military buildup has "produced some credible and positive results," the political outlook is darker. The senators said that during their visit to Iraq last week they told Iraqi leaders of American impatience with the lack of political progress, and "impressed upon them that time has run out in that regard."
In a separate telephone interview with reporters, Levin urged the Iraqi assembly to oust Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and replace his government with one that is less sectarian and more unifying. Speaking to reporters in Washington by phone from Tel Aviv, Levin acknowledged that while there is broad frustration with the lack of action by the al-Maliki government, U.S. officials cannot dictate a change in leadership there. He said he and Warner did not meet with al-Maliki when they were in Iraq this time.
The charges against Saddam's cousin stem from the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War, in which the U.S. drove Saddam's forces from Kuwait.
Shiites in the south and Kurds in the north sought to take advantage of the defeat, launching uprisings and seizing control of 14 of the country's 18 provinces. U.S. troops created a safe haven for the Kurds in three northern provinces, preventing Saddam from attacking. But the late dictator's troops marched into the predominantly Shiite south and crushed the uprising, killing tens of thousands of people.
"The acts committed against the Iraqi people in 1991 by the security forces and by the defendants sitting were among one of the ugliest crimes ever committed against humanity in modern history," the prosecutor Mahdi Abdul-Amir said in opening remarks.
It was the third trial of former regime officials after the Dujail case, in which Saddam and three others were hanged for the 1982 killings of 148 Shiites, and the trial of those accused of killing more than 100,000 Kurds in a 1980s military campaign known as Anfal.
Al-Majid was sentenced to death in the Anfal case but was standing trial in the Shiite uprising case pending his appeal, the court said.
Two others sentenced to death for the Kurdish killings — Sultan Hashim Ahmad al-Tai, the former defense minister who led the Iraqi delegation at the cease-fire talks that ended the 1991 Gulf War, and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, a former deputy director of operations for the Iraqi armed forces — also were among the defendants.
Another high-profile defendant — Saddam's trusted personal secretary and bodyguard Abed Hameed Hmoud — referred to President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, when asked about his residence.
"I used to live in a house in Jadiriyah (a neighborhood in southeastern Baghdad) and now it is occupied by Jalal Talabani," Hmoud said, repeating the sentence twice. The judge ignored his remarks.
Officials in Saddam's regime still face trials for their alleged role in other crimes. These crimes include the slaying of members of political and religious parties, the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the forced emigration of thousands of Shiite Kurds from northern Iraq into Iran, the execution of 8,000 members of the Kurdish Barzani tribe, and the destruction of the marshes in southern Iraq.
Chemical Ali' on trial for brutal crushing of Shia uprising
· Estimated 100,000 dead in rebellion after 1991 war
· Saddam's cousin already under death sentence
Ali Hassan al-Majid, the notorious "Chemical Ali", faced charges of crimes against humanity yesterday at the start of his trial for crushing the Iraqi Shia rebellion at the end of the 1991 Gulf war.
Majid, a first cousin of Saddam Hussein, was the most prominent of 15 of the executed dictator's closest aides and henchmen in the dock in Baghdad. He and three of the other defendants have already been sentenced to death in another case.
The Iraqi high tribunal said the 15, also including Saddam's former personal secretary and defence minister, were facing the gallows for alleged systematic attacks against civilians. Iraq's southern Shia Muslims were encouraged to rebel after US-led coalition forces liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation but failed to follow it up with regime change in Baghdad. An estimated 100,000 died in what became known as the Shia "intifada" or uprising.
Majid, who got his nickname (and existing death sentence) from ordering gas attacks on Kurdish towns during the Anfal campaign in the late 1980s, reportedly sat subdued for most of the session, standing once to question the first witness.
The chief judge, Mohammed Oreibi al-Khalifa, said the men were charged with crimes against humanity, which officials said included murder, torture, persecution and random detentions. They said the evidence includes tapes and after-action reports but few actual orders because of a regime-ordered destruction of records.
In March 1991, Shia in the south and Kurds in the north - both repressed under Saddam's Sunni-dominated Ba'athist regime - sought to take advantage of the defeat, seizing control of 14 of the country's 18 provinces, with dramatic successes in Najaf, Karbala and Basra. US troops created a safe haven for the Kurds in three northern provinces, preventing Saddam from attacking. But Iraqi forces were allowed to use helicopters and tanks in the south and crushed the uprising.
The then US president, George Bush senior, had called on Iraqis to oust the dictator but explained later that he did not want the Iraqi state to break up and feared the collapse of the coalition he had assembled, which included Arab states.
"The acts committed against the Iraqi people in 1991 by the security forces and by the defendants were among one of the ugliest crimes ever committed against humanity in modern history," said prosecutor Mahdi Abdul-Amir.
"Majid used to come to detention centres, tie the hands of the detainees and then shoot them dead. The dead were later buried in mass graves," he said. "Many mass graves have been found since the 2003 war ended. And we will find many more if we keep searching."
Sabir al-Douri, former director of military intelligence, told the judge he was in Baghdad during the uprising and did not visit the south during this period. Sabawi Ibrahim, one of Saddam's half-brothers and head of the feared Mukhabarat intelligence agency at the time, defended the regime's invasion of Kuwait as Iraq's "historic right" and said the court was illegal because it was backed by the US.
It was the third trial of former regime officials after the Dujail case, in which Saddam and three others were hanged for the 1982 killings of 148 Shia, and the trial of those accused of taking part in the Anfal campaign. Unlike the two previous trials, yesterday's hearing was not televised.
The new trial came as Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, came under increasing pressure over the political situation in the country. President George Bush admitted last night that there was "frustration" with Mr Maliki's government, but said it was up to the Iraqi people to decide whether to continue supporting him. Washington has complained of insufficient progress towards political reconciliation, which is necessary to allow the US to pull out.
Chemical Ali To Be Hanged
Judge: 'Chemical Ali,' 2 others to be hanged
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Three members of the former Iraqi regime under Saddam Hussein -- including the man known as "Chemical Ali" -- will be executed within 30 days, senior appellate Judge Munir Haddad said Tuesday.
The appellate chamber upheld their sentences of death by hanging, which were imposed in June.
The three defendants are Hussein's first cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majeed, nicknamed "Chemical Ali;" Sultan Hashem Ahmed, military commander of the Anfal campaign; and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, deputy general commander of the Iraqi armed force, assistant chief of staff for military operations, and former Republican Guard commander.
They were convicted in June for their role in the Anfal campaign, an Iraqi Army offensive in the 1980s that killed up to 100,000 people in the country's Kurdish region. They were found guilty of a variety of charges, including genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.
Under Iraqi law, the government must carry out the executions within 30 days after the appeals process has been exhausted.
Al-Majeed earned his nickname for atrocities committed in the Anfal campaign during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war. In the scorched earth attacks, poisonous gas and chemicals were used against the Kurds.
Saddam Hussein was also a defendant in the Anfal trial, but was hanged late last year after being convicted in a separate trial of the 1982 killings in the Shiite town of Dujail.
The Anfal trial resumed a week after Hussein's hanging.
In addition to the three defendants sentenced to death in June, two others received life sentences.
A sixth defendant -- the former governor of the region where the gas attacks occurred -- was cleared on all charges. Chief prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon had requested that Taher Tawfiq al-Ani be acquitted because of lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, a roadside bomb blast in eastern Baghdad's Zayouna neighborhood killed one civilian and wounded five others Tuesday morning, according to an Iraqi Interior Ministry official.
Separately, gunmen shot and killed a camera operator for al-Iraqi State TV Monday evening in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, local police said.
According to the count kept by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, 114 journalists and 40 media support staffers have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. The CPJ estimates more than 85 percent of media deaths have been Iraqis.
On Monday, 500 British troops completed their withdrawal from their base in the southern Iraqi city of Basra.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has dismissed a suggestion that the withdrawal from Basra Palace was a defeat, insisting it was an "organized" move.
Brown said Monday troops would still be able to intervene in the city in "certain circumstances."
Asked if the move was a "pull-out in defeat ... a retreat," Brown told the BBC: "Let me make this very clear. This is a pre-planned, and this is an organized move from Basra Palace to Basra Air Station."
The move consolidates most of Britain's 5,500-strong force at Basra airport, which has been hit daily by mortar attacks.
The move does not represent a major shift nor does it represent a pullout, the British Ministry of Defense said.
A British military spokesman in Basra said there were no major incidents during the withdrawal, although a British vehicle was damaged and two soldiers were wounded in an attack.
People in Basra cheered the British departure. The pullout happened at a "snail's pace" as the convoy checked for roadside explosives, Tom Newton Dunn, Defense Editor for The Sun and the only British journalist with UK forces in the area, told Sky News
CHEMICAL ALI SENTENCED TO DEATH BY HANGING
Iraq confirms death sentence for 'Chemical Ali'
A top Iraqi court has confirmed the death sentence on "Chemical Ali" and two other cohorts of Saddam Hussein convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity, according to a senior judge.
"The Iraqi Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentence on Ali Hassan al-Majid, Sultan Hashim al-Tai and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti," court head Judge Aref Shaheen told a press conference.
Majid, widely known as "Chemical Ali," was the executed Iraqi dictator's most notorious hatchet man, Tai was his defence minister and Tikriti was armed forces deputy chief of operations.
The three were sentenced to death on June 24 after being found responsible for the slaughter of thousands of ethnic Kurds in the so-called Anfal campaign of 1988.
They will be hanged within 30 days in line with Iraqi law.
An estimated 182,000 Kurds were killed and 4,000 villages wiped out in the brutal campaign of bombings, mass deportation and gas attacks known as Anfal.
"Thousands of people were killed, displaced and disappeared," Iraqi High Tribunal chief judge Mohammed al-Oreibi al-Khalifah said after he had passed sentence in June.
"They were civilians with no weapons and nothing to do with war."
Saddam's regime said the Anfal campaign was a necessary counter-insurgency operation during Iraq's eight-year war with neighbouring Iran.
It involved the systematic bombardment, gassing and assault of areas in the Kurdish autonomous region, which witnessed mass executions and deportations and the creation of prison camps.
Saddam, driven from power by a US-led invasion in April 2003, was executed on December 30 for crimes against humanity in a separate case and charges against him over the Anfal campaign were dropped.
CHEMICAL ALI - KILLING 25 MILLIONS IRAQI NO PROBLEM
Death sentence of "Chemical Ali" and two other Saddam officials greeted with joy in Halabja