Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti صدام حسين عبد المجيد التكريتي (Saddām Husayn Abd al-Majīd al-Tikrītī) was a violent secular Arab nationalist dictator of Iraq and important Reagan-First Bush-era U.S. ally in the Middle East who was toppled from power in the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Initially a military success, the U.S. occupation has degenerated into a quagmire as a variety of Iraqi insurgent groups, including Baathist loyalists, Sunni Islamists affiliated with al-Qaeda, and Shiite Islamist militiamen, have discovered U.S. military weaknesses.
Saddam Hussein went to ground after his regime collapsed and was discovered only later hiding in a farmhouse. After his capture he was publicly humiliated by being videotaped as he was medically examined by the U.S. military medical personnel.
On November 1, 2006, "coincidently" the day before the 2006 U.S. mid-term election, Hussein was convicted of mass murder and sentenced to death by a tribunal in Baghdad other than the International Criminal Court. The mass murder involved the deaths of 148 men and boys executed without trial in the town of Dujail after an assassination attempt against Hussain in 1982. Some observers see the timing as more than the result of mere chance: Saddam Verdict Date "Rigged" for Bush. The Italian anti-capital punishment group Hands Off Cain issued a statement about his impending execution saying, "This is not the way to present the new Iraq to the world, which is different from Saddam, who was behind hundreds of thousands of deaths as well as death penalty sentences." "World's Mixed Reaction To Death Sentence" See also Hands Off Saddam.
Hussein was executed at dawn on December 30, 2006. He dies clutching a copy of the Quran and refusing a hood. His executioners all wore balaclavas to conceal their identity. Although he was in the custody of the U.S. military only an hour before the execution, the U.S. government claimed it was merely an "observer" in the proceedings in the Iraqi regime that it had placed in power. An ICRSS poll of 2000 Iraqis in Baghdad, Anbar and Najaf in November 2006 revealed that 90% of Iraqis felt their country was better off under before the U.S. invasion and occupation. Only 5% said Iraq is better off now.
Hussein launched two wars: the Iran-Iraq War during the 1980s and Iraq's August, 1990, invasion of Kuwait. (The United States government actively supported the first and initially gave tacit approval, via Ambassador April Gillespie, for the second.)
Under Hussein's leadership, Iraq became one of the handful of countries in modern history to use WMDs, specifically chemical weapons, in war. Chemical weapons were also used by both sides in the First World War and by the United States in the Vietnam War. Chemical weapons were not used in the Second World War but the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in that war.