BAGHDAD – Iraq’s presidency endorsed the execution of Saddam Hussein’s cousin known as “Chemical Ali,” who was sentenced to death for his role in the 1980s scorched-earth campaign against Kurds, a government adviser said Friday.
The backing by Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani and two vice presidents is the final step for the approval of Ali Hassan al-Majid’s death sentence, which must be carried out within 30 days of the decision.
Al-Majid was one of three former Saddam officials sentenced to hang in June after being convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for their part in the Operation Anfal crackdown that killed nearly 200,000 Kurdish civilians and guerrillas. An appeals court upheld the verdict in September.
You can find a convenient rundown on Chemical Ali over at Wikipedia. There are also numerous books on the Anfal campaign and the post-Gulf War horror stories of Southern Iraq.
Let’s have some perspective. It still applies here.
During the late stages of the Iran-Iraq War Ali Hassan was given the post of Secretary General of the Northern Bureau of the Ba’ath Party, in which capacity he served from March 1987 to April 1989. This effectively made him Saddam’s proconsul in the north of the country, commanding all state agencies in the rebellious Kurdish-populated region of the country. He soon displayed his characteristic ruthlessness, ordering the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas, sarin, tabun and VX against Kurdish targets. The first such attacks occurred as early as April 1987 and continued into 1988, culminating in the notorious attack on Halabja in which over 5,000 people were killed.
With Kurdish resistance continuing, Ali Hassan decided to break the back of the rebellion by eradicating the civilian population of the Kurdish regions. His forces embarked on a systematic campaign of mass killings, property destruction and forced population transfer (called “Arabization”) in which thousands of Kurdish villages were razed and their inhabitants either killed or deported to the south of Iraq. A decree signed by him in June 1987 stated that “Within their jurisdiction, the armed forces must kill any human being or animal present in these areas.” By 1988, some 4,000 villages had been destroyed, an estimated 180,000 Kurds had been killed and some 1.5 million had been deported. He was nicknamed Chemical Ali (“Ali Kimyawi”) by the Kurds for his role in the campaign; according to Iraqi Kurdish sources, Ali Hassan openly boasted of this nickname. Others dubbed him the “Butcher of Kurdistan”.
The Gulf War and Iraq War
Ali Hassan was appointed as Minister of Local Government following the war’s end in 1988, with responsibility for the repopulation of the Kurdish region with Arab settlers relocated from elsewhere in Iraq. Two years later, after the invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, he became the military governor of the occupied emirate. He instituted a violent regime under which Kuwait was systematically looted and purged of “disloyal elements”. In November 1990, Ali Hassan was recalled to Baghdad and was appointed Interior Minister in March 1991. Following the Iraqi defeat in the war, he was given the task of quelling uprisings in the Shi’ite south of Iraq as well as the Kurdish north. Both revolts were crushed with great brutality, with many thousands killed.
He was subsequently given the post of Defence Minister, though he briefly fell from grace in 1995 when Saddam dismissed him after it was discovered that Ali Hassan was involved in illegally smuggling grain to Iran. In December 1998, however, he was recalled by Saddam and appointed commander of the southern region of Iraq, where United States and United Kingdom aircraft were becoming increasingly active in carrying out air strikes in the southern no-fly zone. Ali Hassan was re-appointed to this post in March 2003, immediately before the start of the Iraq War. He based himself in the southern port city of Basra and it was there, in April 2003, that he was mistakenly reported to have been killed in an air strike.
Ali Hassan survived the attack but was arrested by United States forces on August 17, 2003. He had been listed as the fifth most-wanted man in Iraq, shown as the King of Spades in the deck of most-wanted Iraqi playing cards. In 2006 he was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for his part in the Anfal campaign and was transferred to the Iraq Special Tribunal for trial. (However, he has not yet been charged with the March 1988 attack on Halabja; this is being dealt with as a separate case which has yet to come to trial.)
Jawa Report has some predictions.
Saddam was hanged for killing 148 people in Dujail while his Kurdish genocide trial was still ongoing. I guess “Chemical Ali’s” verdict could be viewed as “killing two birds with one stone”.
Leftist outrage in 3…2…