Tuesday, January 26, 2010



Adel Darwish

Having had my work (whether books, news reports, ‎commentary or analysis I contributed in newspapers, TV or ‎Broadcast) plagiarised by fellow hacks – yes they have no ‎f***** morals – I decide to publish this obituary of Saddam ‎Hussein's cousin General Ali Hassan Al-Majid, also known as ‎Chemical Ali, who was executed today in Baghdad, on my blog ‎as more than one obituary that will appear in the National ‎papers tomorrow arelikely to be  plagiarised from my work. I did in fact ‎publish an obituary of Gn Al-Majid in the Independent on ‎Tuesday 8th April 2003, after he had faked his own death and ‎we fell for it.‎

IN JANUARY 2003, just three months before the ‎war that toppled the Baath regime from power in ‎Iraq,  Saddam Hussein's first cousin General Ali ‎Hassan al-Majid visited Damascus to shake hands ‎with the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, before ‎going to Beirut, where he used foul language and ‎cursed "other Arabs" who were not coming to ‎Iraq's aid and who permitted American and British ‎troops on their soil. Egyptian officials leaked to the ‎press that they had been expecting a delegation ‎from Baghdad, but, when they found out it was ‎headed by Majid, they cancelled the visit.‎

Known within the inner circle of the late Saddam ‎Hussein's ruling Bath Party regime as ' the man for ‎dirty missions' was executed by hanging today ( ‎‎25th Jan 2010) in Baghdad after being convicted on ‎‎13 counts of killings and genocide, in a trial that lasted ‎several month in 2008/2009. He was sentenced to death ‎in four separate trials, including one that focused on his ‎involvement in a poison gas attack against Iraqi Kurds that ‎killed about 5,000 people, which earned him the nickname ‎‎'Chemical Ali'. His execution had been delayed for political ‎rather than legal reasons, namely negotiations with ‎representatives of Sunni Arabs from his tribe and former ‎ruling Baath party members over participating in the ‎political process and reducing violence.  ‎

Al-Majid was known for his ruthless and strong ‎hold on the army. In December 2002 the British ‎Foreign Office showed a film of Majid kicking and ‎slapping prisoners, and army deserters. "Let's ‎execute one so the others will confess," he says in ‎Arabic, with the heavy accent found only in the ‎Tikriti homeland of Saddam Hussein. Turning to ‎another captive, he says: "Don't execute this one. ‎He will be useful to us." Majid kicks one of them, ‎whose hands are tied behind his back, before ‎pointing his handgun to the man's head and ‎executing him in cold blood.‎

Majid was one of the most brutal members of ‎Saddam's inner circle and was entrusted by his ‎cousin to defend the southern sector of Iraq and ‎the historic city of Basra against British troops ‎during the 2003 American lead invasion. He had ‎been dubbed "Chemical Ali" by the Kurds and other ‎opponents for ordering a 1988 poison gas attack ‎that killed thousands of Kurds.‎

A chain-smoking, pot-bellied officer, with no ‎educational qualifications, Majid impressed ‎Saddam with his ruthlessness. Majid was known as ‎‎"the man for dirty missions", according to Hytham ‎Rashid al-Waheeb, a presidential aide to Saddam ‎for 10 years. "Whenever Saddam Hussein finds ‎himself in a crisis, there is usually one man he ‎turns to - General Ali Hassan al- Majid."‎

In August 1990, after Baghdad's invasion of ‎Kuwait, Saddam appointed Majid military governor ‎of Kuwait, renamed Iraq's "19th province" but ‎replaced him three months later for fear that his ‎brutal reputation was strengthening the hand of ‎Kuwait's allies. Six hundred Kuwaiti civilians ‎disappeared under Majid and remained missing ‎even after the Fall of Saddam regime, although ‎some of their remains were found in many mass ‎graves discovered in the past few years.‎

In 1987, Saddam made him chief of the Baath ‎Party in northern Iraq with the task of suppressing ‎an uprising among the Kurdish minority. Over the ‎next 12 months, Majid ordered nerve- and ‎mustard-gas attacks on scores of villages, ‎including on the town of Halabja in March 1988. He ‎lead the "Anfal" ("spoils of war") campaign against ‎Kurdish rebels who took advantage of Iraq's 1980-‎‎88 war with Iran to step up their long campaign for ‎autonomy in their northern heartland. Chemical ‎weapons were used up to 60 times during the two-‎year campaign he waged against the Kurds.‎

Majid was responsible for the murder or ‎disappearance of some 100,000 Kurds and the ‎forced removal of many more. Iraqi opposition put ‎the figure at 150,000. Hundreds of Kurdish villages ‎and communities were destroyed.‎

He was also the architect of the 1970s "torched ‎land" policy which set Kurdish orchards on fire ‎when peshmerga fighters were sheltering in them. ‎He deported thousands of Kurds from the northern ‎mountains to the deserts in the south, causing ‎misery and disease as part of his "Arabisation" ‎policy.‎

On the eve of the 1991 uprising in Kurdistan - ‎where he was in charge of the Northern provinces ‎after brutally putting down the uprising in the ‎south - he took hundreds of Kirkuk and Erbil ‎residents, including Kurds, Assyrians and ‎Turkomans as human shields. They were freed in a ‎deal with the Kurds.‎

Ali Hassan al-Majid is thought to have been born in ‎‎1939 in Tikrit, north- west of Baghdad, where ‎Saddam's tribe of Abu Nasir lived. There was no ‎proper birth register or documentation on those ‎days. Majid was given a messenger job through ‎Brig-Gen Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr, who filled the ‎army with his tribal relatives. He remained a ‎warrant officer and motorcycle messenger in the ‎army until the Baath party led a coup in 1968 ‎making Bakr president. Majid was promoted ‎quickly to the rank of brigadier-general and served ‎as Interior Minister in 1989-91, and as Defence ‎Minister in 1991-95, as well as a regional party ‎leader.‎

In the 1960s, Saddam had recruited him, and ‎many other clan members, to a gangster-like ‎secret network without the knowledge of the Baath ‎party leadership. Gangs led by Saddam, ‎Mohammed Saeed el-Sahaf (the Baath information ‎minister nicknamed comical Ali for denying that ‎Iraqi army was defeated when the American ‎invading forces were only a mile away from his ‎head quarters in April 2003), Izzat al-Duri and ‎Tariq Aziz (the last deputy prime minister in ‎Saddam regim) controlled the Baghdad ‎underground crime scene and terrorised their ‎opponents. Saddam kept the organisation secret ‎until he used the apparatus to take over the ‎leadership of the Baath party to become president ‎in a bloody purge in 1979. Majid took part in ‎liquidating no less than 15 party members, whom ‎he shot in cold blood in one afternoon.‎

He was loyal to Saddam through a Mafia-style ‎bond. In 1995 he joined Uday, Saddam's eldest ‎son and a pathological killer, in leading a group of ‎Tikriti thugs who killed his own uncle and father-‎in-law Kamel Ali and his cousins Hussein Kamel ‎and Saddam Kamel and the rest of the family ‎members. The two Kamel brothers - who were also ‎Saddam's sons-in-law - had committed the sin of ‎fleeing Iraq to Jordan with Saddam's two ‎daughters. Hussein Kamel, who had been in ‎charge of the Weapons of Mass Destruction ‎programme, gave UN inspectors valuable ‎information. Saddam claimed to have forgiven ‎them and invited them back to their death.‎

Saddam forced Uday, who was apparently ‎paralysed by an assassination attempt in 1997, to ‎marry the 16-year-old daughter of Majid. A lavish ‎wedding was designed by Saddam to heal a rift in ‎the ruling family after the murder of the two high-‎level defectors.‎

Saddam's inner circle was made up of relatives or ‎clansmen like Majid, upon whose loyalty he could ‎count. And certainly Majid was among the closest. ‎Iraqi exiles in London cheered at the news of his ‎death.‎
It was the second time they did so, as in April ‎‎2003  after an airstrike on Majid's house in Basra ‎he managed to flee after faking his own death by ‎dressing up an aid in his General rank uniform and ‎leaving his identity papers in the pockets. He ‎mutilated the face of the dead-man before fleeing. ‎It wasn't until several weeks later that DNA tests ‎proved that the corpse found was not that of ‎Majid.  .‎

Ali Hassan al-Majid, army officer: born Tikrit, Iraq ‎‎1939; Iraqi Interior Minister 1989-91, Defence ‎Minister 1991-95; found guilty of genocide in 2008; ‎married; died Baghdad, Iraq 25 January 2010‎

Copyright 2010 by Adel Darwish. Republished by permission. Not to be republished, reprinted or quoted in whole or in-part without prior permission from the author Adel Darwish.

Source: http://www.adeldarwish.com/?p=41 

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