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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iraq Survey Group Final Report

Who Made Iraq’s Strategic Decisions and Determined WMD Policy

Saddam’s Place in the Regime

The Apex of Power

Saddam controlled every peak position of authority in Iraq and formally dominated its state, administrative, Ba’th party and military hierarchies. By the time of Desert Storm, there was no constitutional threat to his position of authority. He had also appointed himself “Paramount Sheikh” in a bid to dominate the country’s tribal system. By the late 1990s, he began seeking more formal control over the nation’s religious structures.

  • Saddam was simultaneously President, Prime Minister, Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), General Secretary of the Ba’th Party, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Also directly reporting to him were the Republican Guard (RG), Special Republican Guard (SRG), Fedayeen Saddam, the four intelligence agencies, the Military Industrialization Commission (MIC)a and the Al Quds Army.
  • Tariq ‘Aziz says that Saddam had enhanced the role of the tribal leaders, giving them money, weapons, land and authority, to turn them into an instrument of support for himself.

Personalized Rule

Saddam dominated all Iraqi institutions by the early 1990s and increasingly administered by personal direction. Major strategic decisions were made by Saddam’s fiat alone, although subordinates acted upon what they perceived to be indirect or implied orders from him. Moreover, Saddam, particularly early in his rule, was fond of micromanagement in all aspects of government.

  • Former advisors suggest that Saddam was healthy, rational and deliberate. He would ponder key decisions—such as the invasion of Kuwait—for months but share his thoughts with few advisors. He was cool under pressure. Even his firmest supporters, such as ‘Abd Hamid Mahmud Al Khatab Al Nasiri, the former presidential secretary from 1991 to 2003, characterize his decision-making style as secretive.
  • ‘Abd-al-Tawab ‘Abdallah Al Mullah Huwaysh—former Deputy Prime Minister from 2001 to 2003 and Minister of Military Industrialization from 1997 to 2003—believed there was a “big gap” between Saddam and his advisors and that, despite the lengthy pondering of an issue, he could be emotive at the point of decision. For example, Huwaysh, while not in a position of power at the time, pointed to the sudden and unconsultative manner in which Saddam ordered the invasion of Kuwait, despite the amount of planning and forethought that had gone into the scheme.
  • Saddam had shown a detailed, technical interest in military affairs during the Iran-Iraq war, frequently visiting army units and giving direct instructions, whether or not the defense minister or the chief-of-staff was present. In contrast, limited evidence suggests that after 1991 Saddam attempted to detach himself from the minutiae of working with the UN.
  • Nevertheless, Saddam was prone to take personal control of projects that spanned military industry, higher education, electricity, and air defense, according to former Presidential Advisor ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid.

Saddam’s Unsettled Lieutenants

Most of Saddam’s key lieutenants were active, experienced and committed to the Regime, but by the mid-1990s they were tightly constrained by their fear of Saddam, isolation and a loss of power. Many accepted the limits of their personal influence in return for membership in a privileged class, because of a personal identification with the goals of the Regime and realization of the personal consequences should it fall.

Key Iraqi Organizations and Officials (2003)

(Note: Names bolded and italicized have been interviewed by ISG)

President Saddam Husayn
Prime Minister Saddam Husayn
Vice President Taha Muhyi-al-Din Ma’ruf [still at large]
Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan Al Jizrawi
Secretary of the President ‘Abd Hamid Mahmud Al Khatab Al Nasiri
Deputy Prime Ministers Tariq ‘Aziz ‘Issa
  Ahmad Husayn Khudayr Al Samarra’i

Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim Al ‘Azzawi
  ‘Abd-al-Tawab ‘Abdallah Al Mullah Huwaysh
Chairman, Presidential Diwan Ahmad Husayn Khudayr Al Samarra’i
Minister of Foreign Affairs Naji Sabri Ahmad Al Hadithi
Minister of Defense Staff Gen. Sultan Hashim Ahmad Al Ta’i
Army Chief-of-Staff Staff Gen. Ibrahim Ahmad ‘Abd-al-Sattar Muhammad
Minister of Military Industrialization ‘Abd-al-Tawab ‘Abdallah Al Mullah Huwaysh
National Monitoring Directorate  
Committee of Three (Military Matters)  
  Husam Muhammad Amin Al Yasin, Director
  Qusay Saddam Husayn [deceased]
  Staff Gen. Sultan Hashim Ahmad Al Ta’i
  Staff Gen. Husayn Rashid Muhammad ‘Arab Al Tikriti
Council of Ministers Heads of all major departments
Revolutionary Command Council  
  Saddam Husayn (Chairman)
  ‘Izzat Ibrahim Al Duri (Vice-Chairman) [still at large]
  Taha Yasin Ramadan Al Jizrawi
  Taha Muhyi-al-Din Ma’ruf [still at large]
  Tariq ‘Aziz Issa
  ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid
  Mizban Khadr Hadi
  Muhammad Hamzah Al Zubaydi (retired 2001)
Committee of Four (“The Quartet”)  
  ‘Izzat Ibrahim Al Duri [still at large]
  Taha Yasin Ramadan Al Jizrawi
  Tariq ‘Aziz Issa
  ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid
National Security Council  
  ‘Izzat Ibrahim Al Duri (Chairman) [still at large]
  Abd Hamid Mahmud Al Khatab Al Nasiri (Secretary)
  Qusay Saddam Husayn, Special Security Organization [deceased]
  Tahir Jalil Habbush, Iraqi Intelligence Service [still at large]
  Zuhayr Talib ‘Abd-al-Sattar, DGMI
  Rafi’ ‘Abd-al-Latif Tulfah Al Nasiri, Directorate of General Security [still at large]
Higher Inspection Committee  
  Taha Yasin Ramadan Al Jizrawi (Chairman 2002-2003)
  Tariq ‘Aziz Issa (Chairman 1991-1998)
  ‘Abd-al-Tawab ‘Abdallah Al Mullah Huwaysh
  Naji Sabri Ahmad Al Hadithi
  Husam Muhammad Amin Al Yasin
  Qusay Saddam Husayn [deceased]
  Amir Muhammad Rashid Al ‘Ubaydi
  ‘Amir Hamudi Hasan Al Sa’adi (scientific advisor)
  Ja’far Diya’ Ja’far Hashim (scientific advisor)

  • Tariq ‘Aziz described the requirements for a leader in Iraq as “power and an iron fist.” He was happy initially with Saddam’s use of these attributes and “for the first ten years we thought he was doing the right thing.”
  • Former RCC member Muhammad Hamzah Al Zubaydi was totally acquiescent, uncritical, and thought Saddam was “a good president.”
  • According to former Vice President Ramadan, when Saddam announced to the RCC in 1990 that he was going to invade Kuwait, only he and Tariq ‘Aziz expressed doubts about the plan, but they felt they could only do so on preparedness grounds. Nevertheless, the invasion resolution passed unanimously and whatever dissent Ramadan and Tariq ‘Aziz registered was insufficiently robust to have stayed in the memories of other participants in the meeting.
  • Yet Saddam’s lieutenants in the RCC and other upper echelons were seen by lower levels of the Regime and the public as powerful and influential. Saddam was keen to maintain this perception. Opposition to his lieutenants’ views from within the Regime was discouraged as criticism of them reflected on him. “When he gave his trust to someone, he didn’t want to hear criticism about that person,” according to ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid.

A Few Key Players in an Insular Environment

Iraq’s policymaking on national security issues, including WMD, rested with Saddam and major decisions were by his fiat. He consulted a few long-serving advisors, but large deliberative bodies like the RCC, the Ba’th Party leadership, Cabinet, Ministries, the military or the intelligence agencies and industrial establishment were incidental to critical decisions. Saddam reserved the right to make final decisions, and former advisors reveal that he often disregarded their advice. Saddam made few public statements regarding WMD, and his deliberations were tightly compartmented and undocumented after the 1980s. Saddam’s advisors have revealed much about a deliberate, secretive decision-making style, which accounts for the lack of information (for example, the lack of documentary evidence) on his strategic intent for WMD. Many, however, believe that Saddam would have resumed WMD programs after sanctions were lifted.

  • Saddam maintained continuity and secrecy by repeatedly turning to a few individuals and small-compartmented committees for foreign policy and national security advice. Tariq ‘Aziz, although deputy prime minister, served as the pre-eminent foreign policy advisor from the early years of the Regime until 2001. Saddam praised ‘Aziz for his knowledge of the west and foreign affairs, in general, despite ‘Aziz falling out of favor in the later stages of the Regime. Two successive committees deliberated over foreign policy issues referred to them by Saddam: the Political Operations Room (1991 to mid-1990s), and its successor the Committee of Four (the “Quartet” from1996 to 2003), (see Annex A, The Quartet—Influence and Disharmony Among Saddam’s Lieutenants for additional information). Additionally, Iraq established the Higher Committee in 1991 to orchestrate relations with UN Weapons inspectors (see section on the Higher Committee).

Life Near Saddam—A Characterization

Saddam’s Iraq was similar to other dictatorships. The primary characteristics of such regimes are: (1) an almost exclusive reliance upon a single decision-maker, his perceptions and objectives; (2) fear and intimidation; (3) little dissent from the “leader’s” views; (4) compartmented expertise with little or no cross-fertilization; (5) the passing of misinformation through the chain of command; (6) internal personal conflicts among second and third tier leadership; (7) a second level of leadership whose power and influence is derived entirely from above, not particularly from the constituencies they represent; (8) avoidance of responsibility. Toward the end of his rule Saddam became more reclusive and relied even less upon advisors for decision-making, while turning more and more to relatives.

  • Party and governmental organizations implemented and legitimized Saddam’s foreign policy decisions more than they directed them. Saddam routinely met with the Cabinet, its committees and the RCC, but participants say they often had little latitude. He also met frequently with key technocrats, such as in the Minister of Military Industrialization, who oversaw MIC. Detainees from various organizations suggest they carried out national security policy rather than created it, although Huwaysh had considerable autonomy in his planning efforts. Nonetheless, even as a favored technocrat, Huwaysh found his decisions subject to Saddam’s changes.
  • Saddam lacked a full grasp of international affairs, according to Tariq ‘Aziz. Saddam perceived Iraqi foreign policy through the prism of the Arab world and Arabic language. He listened to the Arabic services of Voice of America and the BBC, and his press officers would read him translations of foreign media, but he appeared more interested in books and topics about the Arab world. Secretary of the President ‘Abd claimed that Saddam was open to American culture—he watched classic US movies—and that he did not perceive the US-Iraqi relationship to be necessarily one of conflict. Saddam told a US interviewer he tried to understand Western culture, and admitted he relied on movies to achieve this.

Saddam Calls the Shots

Saddam’s command style with subordinates was verbal and direct. Detainees frequently mention verbal instructions from Saddam. His subordinates regarded these commands, whether given in private or in public, as something to be taken seriously and at face value. Saddam was explicit—particularly on issues of a personal or state security nature, which were one and the same to him. The Regime did not take action on WMD or security issues in a documented way using the Iraqi equivalent of public policy statements, cabinet minutes or written presidential executive orders.

  • Saddam verbally referred matters for consideration to the Quartet. He was verbally back-briefed by ‘Izzat Ibrahim Al Duri on the results.
  • According to Husayn Rashid Muhammad ‘Arab Al Tikriti, a former Iraqi Army Chief-of-Staff, Saddam established a key state committee—the Committee of Three, which managed the military—without any initiating or directing documentation. The three members were ordered verbally by Saddam to form and operate the committee.

Saddam’s custom of verbal instructions to subordinates on key issues was a preference driven largely by his security concerns, which fitted well with the style and capability of Iraqi public administration.

  • Close documentation of decision-making chains was incomplete in Iraq, and there was inconsistency in what was recorded. Regime policy files on security issues have not been found following the fall of the Regime and—judging by the ashes found in Iraqi Government offices—may have been comprehensively destroyed. We do not have a complete paper trail of the execution of Saddam’s decisions on state security issues or WMD at a senior level. But there is some documentary evidence.

Former Director of the Directorate General of Military Intelligence Discusses Information for Strategic Operational Planning

“We gathered information from the five embassies where we have (military) attaches: Jordan, Turkey, Qatar, Yugoslavia and Russia. Another source is the Internet—it has everything. For example, the attaché in Qatar reports that the coalition [as it prepares for war] has 15,000 to 18,000 [troops] arriving. We could see it on the Internet, as well—it was all there. For another example, we know that there was pre-planned storage equipment in Qatar and Kuwait, equipment without personnel. [We got these messages by] electronic format or the officer would hand-carry the information back to Iraq.”

  • Instead, voluminous files were often kept on personnel management issues, and trivial and non-official aspects of even very junior personnel were recorded.
  • Official record keeping was highly inconsistent in content and form. Access to electronic information technology varied widely. Even manual typewriters were not available in some places. Pre-electronic copying systems such as carbon paper do not appear to have been widespread. Hand-written records (including many of limited legibility) are common. A high level order in the 1980s directed that Top Secret orders were to be hand-written to avoid the need for typing staff to see them.

Saddam’s subordinates feared him and sought to anticipate his wishes on matters where he had not yet issued characteristically clear and unquestionable orders. At the very least they would seek to avoid outcomes he was known to detest or dislike. Senior subordinates would in these circumstances issue instructions reflecting what they believed was Saddam’s line of thinking on an issue. His more experienced associates, such as Ramadan, found Saddam to be predictable and they were able to work to the limits of his tolerance. That said, fear of Saddam meant that rumor about his wishes could acquire considerable force and make Regime attempts to change course sometimes awkward to implement. MIC staff, for example, initially did not believe that Saddam had decided to abandon the program to withhold information from inspectors. They were accustomed to the earlier Saddam-endorsed policy of deception, and feared transgressing what they earlier knew to be Saddam’s wishes. Vice President Ramadan had to be dispatched in early 2003 to personally explain the new policy to skeptical and fearful MIC staff.

  • Ramadan spoke for three hours at a mass meeting of MIC staff in 2003 to overcome their skepticism, according to Huwaysh.

Saddam’s penchant for both centralized verbal instruction and administrative compartmentation lent itself to accidental or intended competition among subordinates. Compartmentation, when accompanied by his encouragement of backchannel communication, (see Harvesting Ideas and Advice in Byzantine Setting section), occasionally led to two (or more) teams working the same problem. This was particularly the case in security and intelligence issues, allowing the possibility that more than one “order” might be given. Saddam was normally able to realign projects when he needed to but checks and balances among political and security forces of the Regime remained a feature of his rule to the end.

  • Intended competition resulting from two competing “orders” possibly occurred in WMD activities. For example, the Regime had two competing ballistic missile programs under Ra’id Jasim Isma’il Al Adhami and Muzhir Sadiq Saba’ Al Tamimi in 1994, as well as the separate development of two different binary CW rounds by the Al Muthanna State Establishment (MSE) and the Technical Research Centre (TRC) in the late 1980s.

Saddam Shows the Way

Saddam gave periodic unambiguous guidance to a wider audience than his immediate subordinates. He wrote his own speeches. He was unafraid of detail and personally intervened with instructions in all areas of government administration at all levels. Problems arose if Saddam or his lieutenants had not given junior subordinates his views on an issue, leaving them in doubt about policy or their authority in a system where conformity was valued and failure to follow orders often brutally punished. Initiative suffered and the system could be inflexible as it worked on old interpretations of Saddam’s wishes. This latter problem became acute after 1998 when Saddam became more reclusive and his comprehensive speeches became less frequent. A problem also arose when subordinates occasionally moved ahead of Saddam’s decisions, relying on older guidance to anticipate his wishes.

  • During a custodial interview, Saddam said major speeches he drafted and gave, such as the June 2000 speech, on why Iraq could not give up its strategic weapons capability if its neighbors did not, were intended to shape internal and external conditions, in this case the positions of both Iran and the UN.
  • Saddam also wrote key speeches of officials, notably that of Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Ahmad Al Hadithi to the UNGA on 19 September 2002, following President Bush’s ‘Grave and Gathering Danger’ speech to the same body on 12 September.
  • ‘Abd-al-Tawab ‘Abdallah Al Mullah Huwaysh said Saddam “intervened in all of his ministries and agencies where and when he saw fit.”
  • Saddam appointed Ramadan to lead the “Higher Committee” in 2002 to implement UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1441. Ramadan was unsure of his authority to deal with UN inspectors under this arrangement, and he would guess at both the limits of his authority and his personal safety from Saddam’s wrath, a situation compounded by the inability to contact Saddam at critical moments.
  • Tariq ‘Aziz said that in reporting to Saddam on the proceedings of the Committee of Four (the Quartet), chairman ‘Izzat Ibrahim Al Duri would guess at what he thought Saddam wanted to hear. ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid supported ‘Izzat Ibrahim in this approach.
  • Ramadan pointed to the overactive attitude of factory managers in 2002-2003 in blocking UN inspectors as an example of Iraqis anticipating a position Saddam wanted them to take, when in fact his policy had moved in a different direction.

Saddam was strictly opposed to corruption—in the sense of Regime personnel soliciting bribes or expropriating public assets—on the part of family members or subordinate members of the Regime, seeing it as corrosive of respect for authority. Personal corruption could be punished drastically and Saddam issued many directions about what he expected in terms of personal financial behavior. Instead, Saddam reserved for himself the right to dispense the fruits of the Regime, thereby making those who benefited from power sure they were doing so exclusively at his will.

  • According to ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid, Saddam required all official personnel to submit periodic inventories of their assets. Assets could not be above “sufficient” levels, nor could assets be listed under other people’s names. He directed that half of hidden property be given as a reward to whoever reported the deception.

Harvesting Ideas and Advice in a Byzantine Setting

Saddam did not encourage advice from subordinates unless he had first signaled he wanted it. Advisory groups he established, such as the Committee of Four (the Quartet) on foreign, political and strategic policy, considered only those issues he referred to them. Committees generally assumed Saddam already had a preferred position on such issues and commonly spent time trying to guess what it was and tailor their advice to it. More conscientious members of the Regime sought to work around sycophantic or timid superiors by cultivating alternative, direct lines of communication to Saddam—a development that pleased Saddam because it put another check on subordinates. The result, however, was a corrosive gossip culture in senior government circles that further undercut any semblance of developing policy through conventional government procedures.

  • Ramadan thought Saddam’s preference for informal chains of command encouraged a gossip culture in his immediate circle that undercut good policy development.
  • ‘Izzat Ibrahim Al Duri, Ramadan, and ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid in the Quartet would usually argue for whatever policy they thought Saddam would want, according to Tariq ‘Aziz.
  • In some areas, alternative channels were formalized. Special Security Organization (SSO) personnel were able to regularly bypass superiors, and senior SSO officers bypassed the SSO Director if they had links to Qusay Saddam Husayn. Similarly, certain sections of the SSO could bypass the SSO Director and report straight to Saddam.
  • Saddam claimed he regularly met with the Iraqi people as he found them to be the best source of accurate information. Additionally, Saddam said he found women to be great sources of information, particularly within the various government ministries.
  • Saddam’s interest in science meant that some Iraqi weapons-related scientists were able to use back channels to by-pass military industry gatekeepers such as Huwaysh. This enabled them to sometimes secure Saddam’s support for odd or marginal programs of little use to defense. For example, retired defense scientist ‘Imad ‘Abd-al-Latif ‘Abd-al-Ridha secured Saddam’s backing in January 2000 for the Al Quds UAV program over the objections of Huwaysh. The project never progressed beyond two prototypes and Huwaysh stated that the program was ultimately an expensive failure.
  • Saddam was “like a computer,” according to ‘Abd: if he received reliable information he would make good decisions, but if the inputs were flawed, the resulting policies would suffer.

Weaving a Culture of Lies

The growth of a culture of lying to superiors hurt policymaking more than did the attendant gossip. Lying to superiors was driven by fear of the Regime and the inability to achieve results as resources deteriorated under sanctions in the first half of the 1990s. Lack of structural checks and balances allowed false information to affect Iraqi decision making with disastrous effects. Saddam knew his subordinates had a tendency to lie, but his earlier efforts to check their claims by “ground-truthing” them through personal tours of inspection decreased by 1998 as he became more reclusive.

  • Tariq ‘Aziz asserts that before Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Iraqi military lied to Saddam about its preparedness, which led Saddam to grossly miscalculate Iraq’s ability to deter an attack.
  • Several sources claim that reporting up the party, government, and military chain of command became less trustworthy before Operation Iraqi Freedom. Key commanders overstated their combat readiness and willingness to fight, and Saddam no longer sought ground truth by visiting units and asking pointed questions as he had during the Iran-Iraq war. He instead relied upon reports by officers who later admitted misleading Saddam about military readiness out of fear for their lives.
  • ‘Abd said key Regime members “habitually” concealed from Saddam unpleasant realities of Iraq’s industrial and military capabilities and of public opinion. Fear of the loss of position motivated this deception, which continued until the final days of the Regime.
  • Asked how Saddam treated people who brought him bad news, ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid replied, “I don’t know.” ISG assesses that ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid has never known any instance of anybody bringing bad news to Saddam.

Saddam Became Increasingly Inaccessible

Saddam encouraged a sense of his omnipotence among his subordinates, a condition that increased after 1998 as Saddam became more physically reclusive. The former workaholic and micromanager appeared less engaged after this time, although he would involve himself in issues of interest, such as air defense. Saddam’s inaccessibility was driven by an extreme fear of assassination and also apparently by a personal prioritization of other activities, including writing. While there is no evidence Saddam’s control of the Regime slipped, many of his lieutenants saw a sharp lessening of Saddam’s attention to detail and an absence of his previous desire to “ground proof” high level advice through field inspections. They suggest his formerly detailed interest in military affairs diminished compared to that shown during the Iran-Iraq war or Desert Storm.

  • By Saddam’s own account, he had only used a telephone twice since 1990, for fear of being located for a US attack.
  • According to Ramadan, he never phoned Saddam directly after 1991, never privately socialized with him and was often unable to locate Saddam for days, even in periods of crisis. Simply locating Saddam could be a problem even for senior officials. Ramadan said, “Sometimes it would take three days to get in touch with Saddam.”
  • Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim Al ‘Azzawi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, thought that because of extensive security measures, there was little possibility that Saddam would be assassinated. Hikmat said Saddam was confident no one could assassinate him because no one knew where he slept, and ministerial meetings were held at undisclosed locations. Ministers were picked up and driven to the meeting locations in vehicles with blacked out windows, and they were never told where they were once they arrived at meetings, according to a former senior official.
  • According to ‘Ali Hasan Al Majid, notice of RCC meetings was given only hours and sometimes minutes before they occurred; it was normal for RCC members to be collected by official cars, and then be switched to different cars between the pick-up point and the meeting place, and sometimes the meeting place would be changed as well.
  • Despite the extensive measures used to protect Saddam, his family, and senior leaders, an assassination attempt in December 1996 seriously wounded ‘Uday Saddam Husayn. This critical failure of the Regime’s security infrastructure is likely to have contributed significantly to Saddam’s withdrawal.
  • Saddam was more reclusive during his last years as president, according to a former senior official. He lost much of his contact with the government. He still attended RCC meetings, but he met only infrequently with the Quartet. Beginning in 1999, “when he was writing his novels,” Saddam would often come to his ministers’ meetings unprepared. “He had not even read the summary notes his staff prepared for him for the meeting,” according to the Minister of Military Industrialization.
  • Tariq ‘Aziz stated that during the 1990s, Saddam became less involved in tactical issues and concentrated more on strategic matters. During the late 1990s, he spent more time in his palaces; subordinates had to forward documents to him because they could no longer communicate directly with him. ‘Aziz claims that in the months before Operation Iraqi Freedom, he had little interaction with Saddam and he was reduced to spending the time watching TV and reading newspapers (part of ‘Aziz’s isolation was a result of the growing prominence, at ‘Aziz’s expense, of Foreign Minister Naji Sabri). Although Saddam still sought detailed reporting, he did not process it with the diligence that characterized his approach to paperwork a decade earlier. In ‘Aziz’s view, Saddam listened less to advisory boards such as the Quartet and rejected their advice more frequently. Instead, he turned more toward family members, such as Qusay.

Saddam’s Command By Violence

Saddam used violence liberally as an administrative method, to ensure loyalty, repress even helpful criticism and to ensure prompt compliance with his orders. Saddam’s use of violence stood in stark contrast to the public image he created of a benevolent father figure, interested in all aspects of Iraqi life, from children’s poetry to public hygiene.

  • In 1979, during Saddam’s transition from Vice President to President, he directed the execution of a “number of the leadership” for supposedly plotting with Syrian Ba’thists against him. Tariq ‘Aziz described this episode as the cruelest action he witnessed under Saddam.
  • ‘Abd-al-Tawab ‘Abdallah Al Mullah Huwaysh confirmed that in 1982, Saddam ordered the execution of his Health Minister Riyad Al ‘Ani (a relative of Huwaysh) and delivery of the dismembered body to the victim’s wife. Riyad, in response to an appeal by Saddam for creative ideas on how to end the war with Iran, had made the fatal mistake of suggesting that Saddam temporarily resign and resume office after peace was achieved.
  • Muhsin Khadr Al Khafaji, Ba’th Party Chairman in the Al Qadisiyah Governorate, “never refused to do anything he was asked to by Saddam as he fully expected to be executed if he failed to comply with orders given to him. In the 1980s, (he) witnessed a number of soldiers being executed after they deserted.”

Saddam’s Use of Execution—Management by Threat

Fear of Presidential violence was widespread under the former Regime, but some situations merited explicit threats. The return from Jordan in February 1996 of Saddam’s son-in-law, Husayn Kamil Hasan Al Majid, “the traitor,” was such an event. This SSO administrative order was found after Operation Iraqi Freedom:

An administrative order

The order of the Special Security Organization Director

The traitor Husayn Kamil Hasan is to be treated as any citizens in the state and his, or his traitorous group’s orders are not to be obeyed in any way or in any location in the country. Anyone who obeys his orders will be punished by execution, by order of the Leader, The President, God Bless Him.

This order is posted by the Security Unit division manager and it is timed below.

Dated 20 Feb 96.

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