A frame grab from Iraqi state televison shows a
noose being placed around former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's neck
December 30, 2006. [Reuters/Iraqi State Televison ]
BAGHDAD - Saddam Hussein was buried before dawn on Sunday in his
native village of Awja, near Tikrit in northern Iraq, the head of his tribe and
a family source said.
Ali al-Nida, head of the Albu Nasir tribe, said the burial in a family plot
took place in the early morning, less than 24 hours after the former president
was hanged for crimes against humanity. He gave no further details.
A source close to Saddam's family confirmed his remains were interred at
Awja, where his sons Uday and Qusay, killed by US troops in 2003, also lie in a
family plot. The family had said he might be buried in the western city of
Arab television stations broadcast new video images of Saddam's hanging,
apparently shot on a low-quality camera by guards or other officials at the
execution, taken from a different angle from footage shown on Iraqi state
Al Jazeera froze a frame of Saddam with the noose around his neck before the
trap opens but continued playing an audio track that stops abruptly after Saddam
began the second verse of the Muslim profession of faith: "I bear witness that
There is a mechanical sound like that of a trap opening.
The new video also bore out witness comments on Saturday that the 69-year-old
former strongman, who looked calm and composed as he stood on the gallows, had
shouted angry political slogans while masked guards were bringing him into the
execution chamber once used by his own feared intelligence services.
Grainy video also later showed his body in a white shroud, the neck twisted
and blood on a cheek.
Tribal elders in Tikrit, on the Tigris river 175 km (110 miles) north of
Baghdad, took delivery of the body on Saturday, an Iraqi government source
confirmed. A lawyer for Saddam said it was sent there aboard a US military
Details of the burial were scant and tribesmen kept onlookers away from Awja
as day broke, a local journalist said.
SONS BURIED IN AWJA
Awja is small settlement of unusually grand homes, signs of the prosperity it
enjoyed during the rule of its most famous son, born there in poverty in 1937.
It appeared Saddam would lie close to his sons, whom he groomed as successors.
During three decades of harsh rule, clan members from around Tikrit in
particular, and minority Sunni Muslim Arabs in general, played a dominating role
at the expense of ethnic Kurds and of the Shi'ite majority that has taken
control of government following the US invasion that overthrew Saddam.
While government officials had indicated he might lie in a secret, unmarked
grave for fear the site could become a shrine and focal point for Baathist
rebels, it appears they have taken the view that Uday and Qusay were buried
there three years ago and the cemetery can be kept under surveillance.
Three decades after Saddam established his personal rule by force, his death
closes a chapter in Iraq's history marked by war with Iran and a 1990 invasion
of Kuwait that turned him from ally to enemy of the United States and
impoverished his oil-rich nation.
However, as US President George W. Bush said in a statement, sectarian
violence pushing Iraq towards civil war had not ended.
Car bombs set off by suspected Sunni insurgents killed more than 70 people in
Baghdad and near the Shi'ite holy city of Najaf.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, his fragile authority among fellow Shi'ites
significantly enhanced after he forced through Saddam's execution over
hesitation from Sunni and Kurdish members of his government, reached out to
"Saddam's execution puts an end to all the pathetic gambles on a return to
dictatorship," he said in a statement as state television showed film of him
signing the death warrant in red ink. "I urge ... followers of the ousted regime
to reconsider their stance as the door is still open to anyone who has no
innocent blood on his hands to help in rebuilding ... Iraq."
"Bringing Saddam Hussein to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it
is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can
govern, sustain, and defend itself," said Bush, who has defended the 2003
invasion despite US troops' failure to find alleged banned weapons.
The US death toll in Iraq is just two short of the emotive 3,000 mark and
December is already the deadliest month for the Americans for more than two
years. Bush has promised to unveil a new strategy in the new year.
The United Nations, the Vatican and Washington's European allies all
condemned Saddam's execution on moral grounds.