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Home > Full video of Saddam Hussein execution - Robert Fisk: He takes his secrets (...)

Full video of Saddam Hussein execution - Robert Fisk: He takes his secrets to the grave. Our complicity dies with him

by Open-Publishing - Tuesday 2 January 2007

Edito Wars and conflicts Justice International Robert Fisk

How the West armed Saddam, fed him intelligence on his ’enemies’, equipped him for atrocities - and then made sure he wouldn’t squeal

by Robert Fisk

We’ve shut him up. The moment Saddam’s hooded executioner pulled the lever of the trapdoor in Baghdad yesterday morning, Washington’s secrets were safe. The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the United States - and Britain - gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which our presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember. And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support - given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War - is dead.

Gone is the man who personally received the CIA’s help in destroying the Iraqi communist party. After Saddam seized power, US intelligence gave his minions the home addresses of communists in Baghdad and other cities in an effort to destroy the Soviet Union’s influence in Iraq.

Saddam’s mukhabarat visited every home, arrested the occupants and their families, and butchered the lot. Public hanging was for plotters; the communists, their wives and children, were given special treatment - extreme torture before execution at Abu Ghraib.

There is growing evidence across the Arab world that Saddam held a series of meetings with senior American officials prior to his invasion of Iran in 1980 - both he and the US administration believed that the Islamic Republic would collapse if Saddam sent his legions across the border - and the Pentagon was instructed to assist Iraq’s military machine by providing intelligence on the Iranian order of battle. One frosty day in 1987, not far from Cologne, I met the German arms dealer who initiated those first direct contacts between Washington and Baghdad - at America’s request.

"Mr Fisk... at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I was invited to go to the Pentagon," he said. "There I was handed the very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments - thousands of them - all the way up the Iranian side of the border towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I travelled with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very grateful!"

I was with Saddam’s forward commandos at the time, under Iranian shellfire, noting how the Iraqi forces aligned their artillery positions far back from the battle front with detailed maps of the Iranian lines. Their shelling against Iran outside Basra allowed the first Iraqi tanks to cross the Karun within a week. The commander of that tank unit cheerfully refused to tell me how he had managed to choose the one river crossing undefended by Iranian armour. Two years ago, we met again, in Amman and his junior officers called him "General" - the rank awarded him by Saddam after that tank attack east of Basra, courtesy of Washington’s intelligence information.

Iran’s official history of the eight-year war with Iraq states that Saddam first used chemical weapons against it on 13 January 1981. AP’s correspondent in Baghdad, Mohamed Salaam, was taken to see the scene of an Iraqi military victory east of Basra. "We started counting - we walked miles and miles in this fucking desert, just counting," he said. "We got to 700 and got muddled and had to start counting again ... The Iraqis had used, for the first time, a combination - the nerve gas would paralyse their bodies ... the mustard gas would drown them in their own lungs. That’s why they spat blood."

At the time, the Iranians claimed that this terrible cocktail had been given to Saddam by the US. Washington denied this. But the Iranians were right. The lengthy negotiations which led to America’s complicity in this atrocity remain secret - Donald Rumsfeld was one of President Ronald Reagan’s point-men at this period - although Saddam undoubtedly knew every detail. But a largely unreported document, "United States Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War", stated that prior to 1985 and afterwards, US companies had sent government-approved shipments of biological agents to Iraq. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax, andEscherichia coli (E. coli). That Senate report concluded that: "The United States provided the Government of Iraq with ’dual use’ licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-systems programs, including ... chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings, chemical warfare filling equipment."

Nor was the Pentagon unaware of the extent of Iraqi use of chemical weapons. In 1988, for example, Saddam gave his personal permission for Lt-Col Rick Francona, a US defence intelligence officer - one of 60 American officers who were secretly providing members of the Iraqi general staff with detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning and bomb damage assessments - to visit the Fao peninsula after Iraqi forces had recaptured the town from the Iranians. He reported back to Washington that the Iraqis had used chemical weapons to achieve their victory. The senior defence intelligence officer at the time, Col Walter Lang, later said that the use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis "was not a matter of deep strategic concern".

I saw the results, however. On a long military hospital train back to Tehran from the battle front, I found hundreds of Iranian soldiers coughing blood and mucus from their lungs - the very carriages stank so much of gas that I had to open the windows - and their arms and faces were covered with boils. Later, new bubbles of skin appeared on top of their original boils. Many were fearfully burnt. These same gases were later used on the Kurds of Halabja. No wonder that Saddam was primarily tried in Baghdad for the slaughter of Shia villagers, not for his war crimes against Iran.

We still don’t know - and with Saddam’s execution we will probably never know - the extent of US credits to Iraq, which began in 1982. The initial tranche, the sum of which was spent on the purchase of American weapons from Jordan and Kuwait, came to $300m. By 1987, Saddam was being promised $1bn in credit. By 1990, just before Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, annual trade between Iraq and the US had grown to $3.5bn a year. Pressed by Saddam’s foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, to continue US credits, James Baker then Secretary of State, but the same James Baker who has just produced a report intended to drag George Bush from the catastrophe of present- day Iraq - pushed for new guarantees worth $1bn from the US.

In 1989, Britain, which had been giving its own covert military assistance to Saddam guaranteed £250m to Iraq shortly after the arrest of Observer journalist Farzad Bazoft in Baghdad. Bazoft, who had been investigating an explosion at a factory at Hilla which was using the very chemical components sent by the US, was later hanged. Within a month of Bazoft’s arrest William Waldegrave, then a Foreign Office minister, said: "I doubt if there is any future market of such a scale anywhere where the UK is potentially so well-placed if we play our diplomatic hand correctly... A few more Bazofts or another bout of internal oppression would make it more difficult."

Even more repulsive were the remarks of the then Deputy Prime Minister, Geoffrey Howe, on relaxing controls on British arms sales to Iraq. He kept this secret, he wrote, because "it would look very cynical if, so soon after expressing outrage about the treatment of the Kurds, we adopt a more flexible approach to arms sales".

Saddam knew, too, the secrets of the attack on the USS Stark when, on 17 May 1987, an Iraqi jet launched a missile attack on the American frigate, killing more than a sixth of the crew and almost sinking the vessel. The US accepted Saddam’s excuse that the ship was mistaken for an Iranian vessel and allowed Saddam to refuse their request to interview the Iraqi pilot.

The whole truth died with Saddam Hussein in the Baghdad execution chamber yesterday. Many in Washington and London must have sighed with relief that the old man had been silenced for ever.

’The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East’ by Robert Fisk is now available in paperback

Forum posts

  • Saddam is now a greater threat in death than he was in life. No matter how one feels about him - that he was a murdering dictator, etc. - and the manner by which he was deposed - via the illegal invasion by the United States, based on lies and misrepresentations - the stoical even heroic way he faced death is going to serve as an inspiration and rallying point for millions of Arabs and Muslims. The Americans have merely killed the man, but the idea - resistance to western imperialism - remains alive.

    • He is dead and is no threat..

      He will never have the chance to become a Hilter or even worst.

      The Americans have not only merely killed the man, but the idea - of a resistance to western imperialism.

      You see one goes hand in hand.

      This war is coming to an end now, and most Arabs and Muslims do not like that. Within a short time things will be back to what they do best there.

      Kill one another.

  • This says it all.

    Also, an interesting aside. I suggest that anyone who is into Nostradamus go back and study his Mabus quatrain. I’m so looking forward to the twenty five years of all out war that are to follow the death of Mabus.

    • That website should be

      Sorry about that

    • Clever indeed, Bing would not approve but who cares anyway. He dead and that’s that.

      You forgot one, in fact the most important one.. He was the 1st to stop using US$ for payment and started to use the Euro in its place.

      He didn’t get the message, so we used him and dusted him away, as we Americans should do.

      Whos nexts just lined them up..bang! bang!

  • I’m so tired of hearing how the USA and Britain armed this man so therefore he is a victim now that he is dead. Give me a friggin’ break.

    Let us look at Saddam rationally without resorting to some whacked-out conspiracy theory that the CIA alone armed and made Saddam into the monster that he was. While he was rising to power in Iraq, he did so on his own free will. Believe it or not, but Saddam wasn’t just a mindless sponge that reacted to just what the USA said and did, he was a brutal man who made choices of his own free will. Apparently people in this world believe that everyone else on the planet, besides the USA and Britain, are incapable of making their own choices. And if they do make choices which are bad, well hell, it has to be the USA’s fault! If only Saddam hadn’t had any kind of contact with the USA, well he would be a nice sweet man. He never ever would have started a war, killed innocent people on purpose, and gassed the Kurds. Ahhh...bless his little pea-picking heart. Those mean Americans are so much more fun to blame for problems on this planet, than it is to blame those that are truly walking Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Somalia Islamic army, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Fatah. When was the last time any of those countries or groups offered aid to tsunami or earthquake victims? Hmmm.... The USA, along with a lot of other Western nations, offered monetary and medical aid to the Iranian earthquake victims several years ago, the West sent over millions and millions of dollars to the ungrateful and violent Palestinians who hate our guts, and the West continues to provide humanitarian assistance to any poor Muslim nation when a natural disaster occurs. The West is truly evil indeed sending aid to these people that was created by capitalism.

    My point is that Saddam wasn’t a puppet of the USA and Great Britain. He made his bed, and he is lying in it now. He made the choice to not leave Iraq and have his country invaded. He, and he alone, was responsible for the atrocities that he commited. Many European nations are allied with China and Russia for oil and trade, and those two nations commit horrible crimes against their people, but you never, EVER see this Web site or leftists talk about how Europe is pulling the strings of Putin and Hu Jintao and making them kill independent journalists and poisioning Kremlin critics and forcing women to have abortions! Putin and Hu Jintao are not robots, they are evil men who do evil things to their people.

    Why is there only one viewpoint that leftists have of what ails this world? Not every problem comes from the West. Stop with this need to blame the USA for what others do on their own. Hold those people like Saddam, Putin, Robert Mugabe, and others accountable for the acts they commit!

    Before I sign off, I want to share with you all an observation of mine. Time and time again the most horrible crimes against humanity occur in nations where the economic and political systems come from worker/socialist/communist/religious revolutions. Stalin, killed millions with his "Great Purge" when many people starved to death or were forced to group farms in order to make Russia an Industrial nation, North Korea’s leader professes that the communist dream of everyone being equal still lives on in his country, but many of his people are starving while he is driving luxury cars, and let us not forget Pol Pot who relocated millions and killed three million for his quest for a "pure" communist state. Most of the time you won’t see these things in a capitalistic democracy, with some exceptions of course, so that leads me to believe that one is better than the other.

    So in closing, my suggestion, is to feel free to disagree with the USA and Great Britain on foreign policy, to hate President Bush, etc., but don’t become mindless Bush and USA hating robots that begin to feel sorry for the deaths of dictators who did just plain evil things to others who disagreed with their foreign policies.

    On behalf of myself and all of Saddam’s victims, I hope he is rotting in hell.

    Texas Girl

    • The point is Texas Girl that all the aforementioned "leaders" wouldn’t have been able to do what they did or are doing without the enablement of the US, Britain, fill in the blank. They are/were little men who are completely unaware of their danger when they greedly accept the boney hand of death that these enablers hold out to them when they do it. I really suggest you open the link I posted and watch the little film that so eloquently illustrates what those of us who want EVERYONE responsible for our current situation to pay are saying. For instance, if the numbers of dead are the benchmark that the US is using to condem someone, well then I say that the three quarters of a MILLION Iraqi dead is a good case for a captial murder case against GW, his charming father, Clinton, Rummy, Cheney, Rice, and on and on.

      It’s the double standard that’s pissing me and many others off!

    • Anyone who would appologize and defend the CIA needs to go and do some research. If you spend some time finding out the truth about the CIA, you will come to the conclusion that it is far more evil than anything Saddam ever tried to do or dream up. Since its’ inception, it has murdered elected leaders for the elitist capitalists/military-industrial complex of this country and around the world. They have started wars, killed religious leaders, nuns, starved children to death, introduced biological agents into the population of the USA, given evil dictators chemical/biological weapons and WMD, smuggled drugs for money to fund illegal military activities around the planet, the list is too numerous to even begin to cover.

      If after you actually do your home work, you can still come here and say "you are so tired of people blaming the CIA", then you must be so brainwashed that nothing would be able to get through your thick fog of a mind.

      Grow the hell up, and stop believing that you live in a fantasy land where the government only does good things and wars are for peace, and lies are for our own good. It is people like you who refuse to see the truth that makes it possible for this criminal organization to still have some credibility and those who run it remain out of prison which is where where most of them belong.

    • I just love the South, would live they if it wasn’t for the Mex’s and such. Thank God GW has the guts to not do what our Congra-s-s wants to do.

      The South shall rise again in all its glory!

      Thanks for the post...

      What most Americas today think is the majority is in itself only a small (very small) hand full running the media, this site included.

  • The execution of Saddam shows that it dangerous to be a buddy of the USA. Just ask Noreiga!

  • This is why I’m against the death penalty. I remember the smug look Timothy McVeigh took to the grave with him. He knew secrets behind the Oklahoma City bombing that he was (patriotically?) proud to take to the grave with him. Perhaps some of these facts will surface in the coming Terry Nichols case, perhaps not. Most of what Saddam Hussein took to the grave with himself would only be confirmation of what Internet readers today already know, about that censored part of American/Iraqi history. I just think maybe our war criminal in office should meet a similar demise. Actually I think we should stick Bush in Prison for his crimes and parade him around occasionally during parole hearings to make fun of him. If we are going to hang Bush in the end for his war crimes, however we should also film it so we can at least be amused to watch him wet his pants when the noose goes over his neck. I got to hand it to Soddam. He took his death like a man.

  • I am still wondering who, if anyone was hung that day.

    Photos on the web showed that the man that was in US custody and photos of the real Saddam did not match up. One had and overbite and the other had an under-bite. If we do the research that brings light and truth then we are not fooled by the untruth.

    Who really died that day?

  • Even if your theory about supplying chemicals to saddam is acurate, the US did not fire them. Case in point , I can go out and purchase a firearm and it is legal, however if i where to hurt someone with this purchased firearm no doubt prison would be my next home. According to your logic we should instead jail the merchant that sold it to me?Think of the freedom you have to comment on this site, would your mighty saddam have given you that? How come no-one complains that America spreads freedom? Because Freedom is the most wanted thing world wide from the start of time. America may not be perfect but freedom comes at a cost, once you taste it there is no going back. The world is not a sanctioned boxing match, all is fair in love and war, life is not always pretty picture so you kick claw and bite whatever it takes to protect your freedom who said there where any rules. So we used him to push off the communist party and the world became a better place, he then became greedy like all dictators do and in the end was granted a black tie send-off, maybee now we can find someone to eliminate terrorists for us and the world will become a even better place.Nobody forced his hand to open a gas canister saddam made his own choices.

    • Obviously though the Bush/Cheney Neo-CON Nazis and their Crime Family are probably about the most destructive terrorists alive today. I mean really what can you say about traitorous scum that attacks it’s own people as an excuse to open up the flood gates of hundreds of billions of dollars to your cronie buddies all the while murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent women and kids so you can steal their resources and assimilate their culture into the Beast System. The Bush/Cheney Nazis ssem to be following directly in Hitler’s footsteps and probably not surprising as old Prescott historically seemed to be quite a Nazi supporter. Runs in the family I guess.