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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.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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