BAGHDAD, Iraq - The Iraqi government's attempt Monday to close a chapter on
Saddam Hussein's repressive regime - by hanging two of his henchmen -
only appeared to anger many of Saddam's fellow Sunni Muslims after the former
leader's half brother was decapitated on the gallows.
A thickset Barzan Ibrahim plunged through
the trap door and was beheaded by the jerk of the thick beige rope at the end of
his fall, in the same the execution chamber where Saddam was hanged a little
over two weeks earlier.
People pray beside the coffins of Barzan Ibrahim,
Saddam's half brother and former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed
al-Bandar, former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court who were executed at
dawn Monday in Baghdad, in the town of Ouja, 115 kilometers (70 miles)
north of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday Jan. 15, 2007. [AP]
A government video of the hanging, played at a briefing for reporters, showed
Ibrahim's body passing the camera in a blur. The body came to rest on its chest
while the severed head lay a few yards away, still wearing the black hood pulled
on moments before by one of Ibrahim's five masked executioners.
The decapitation appeared inadvertent, and Iraqi officials seemed anxious to
prove they hadn't mutilated Ibrahim's remains.
The hangings came as a suicide car bomber slammed into an Iraqi army patrol
in the northern city of Mosul Monday, killing seven people and wounding 40
others, police said. A total of at least 55 people were killed or found dead
across Iraq, authorities said.
The US military, meanwhile, announced the deaths of two more soldiers, both
killed in Baghdad.
While Ibrahim's body was wrenched apart by the execution, his co-defendant,
Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Saddam's Revolutionary court, died as
expected - swinging at the end of a rope. Both men met death at 3 a.m.
wearing reddish orange prison jumpsuits.
Prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi, who witnessed the hangings, said Ibrahim
looked tense and protested his innocence as he was brought into the chamber. The
condemned man had once ran Saddam's feared security agency, the Mukhabarat.
"I did not do anything," al-Moussawi quoted Ibrahim as saying. "It was all
the work of Fadel al-Barrak." Al-Barrak ran two intelligence departments in
Saddam's feared Mukhabarat.
Saddam was hanged amid shouted taunts and insults from Shiite
witnesses - a scene Iraqi officials said was not repeated Monday.
All three executions took place in Saddam-era military intelligence
headquarters, located in the north Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah, a Shiite
By day's end at least 3,000 angry Sunnis, many firing guns in the air, others
weeping or cursing the government, assembled for the burials of Ibrahim and
al-Bandar in Saddam's hometown of Ouja, near Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad.
"Where are those who cry out in demands for human rights?" Marwan Mohammed,
one of the mourners, asked in grief and frustration. "Where are the UN and the
world's human rights organizations? Barzan had cancer. They treated him only to
keep him alive long enough to kill him. We vow to take revenge, even if it takes
Ibrahim's son-in-law, Azzam Saleh Abdullah, said "we heard the news from the
media. We were supposed to be informed a day earlier, but it seems that this
government does not know the rules."
The execution, he said, reflected what he called the Shiite-led government
hatred for Sunnis. "They still want more Iraqi bloodshed," he said. "To hell
with this democracy."
The executed men, at their request, were buried in a garden outside a
building Saddam had built for religious events. Saddam was buried there on New
Year's eve in a grave chipped out of an interior floor.
Ouja, just outside Tikrit - about a 90-minute drive north of Baghdad on
the Tigris River - is near the scene of Saddam's capture by American
soldiers in December 2003.
Saddam was discovered hiding in a small underground bunker nine months after
he fled the US-led invasion that toppled his regime.
Saddam, Ibrahim and al-Bandar were all handed the death sentence after their
conviction for crimes against humanity, in connection with the killings of 148
Shiites in Dujail, north of Baghdad, in 1982 - following a failed
assassination attempt there against Saddam.
Saddam was executed last month, four days after an Iraqi appeals court upheld
the verdicts in the Dujail case. Reportedly, the court was under pressure from
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who wanted Saddam hanged before the end of 2006.