Mon, Jan 01, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Under cover of darkness, Saddam buried back home

`SACRIFICE' Some Muslims condemned the execution of Saddam during the Id al-Adha, remembering the sacrifice of Abraham

AGENCIES , CAIRO, BAGHDAD AND AWJA, IRAQ

Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was buried in the dead of night in his home village in northern Iraq, after his body had been washed and covered in a white shroud in observance of Muslim rites by a small group of fellow tribesmen.

New images on the Internet showed Saddam being hanged in Baghdad less than 24 hours earlier, showing his hooded executioners exchanging taunts with him and his body dropping through the trap. He was also shown hanging, his eyes open.

A source among the leading local Sunni Muslim clerics who took part in the funeral proceedings yesterday said that a service was first held in Tikrit, at the Saddam Mosque.

The body, which arrived in a US military helicopter, was taken to nearby Awja and laid to rest in a mosque hall in the presence of a small group of local officials and tribesmen who played a major role in Saddam's rise to power.

Hundreds of angry mourners from Saddam's Sunni Arab minority who traveled to Awja from different parts of Iraq laid flowers and pictures of Saddam by the brick-and-mud tomb.

"The Persians killed him. I can't believe it. By God, we will take revenge," said a man from the northern city of Mosul, using a term employed by some Sunnis to describe Shiites.

The Shiite-led government had first indicated Saddam's body might lie in a secret, unmarked grave for fear the site could become a shrine and focal point for Baathist rebels.

Salahaddin Governor Moham-med al-Qaisi said he had attended the 25-minute funeral, which began at 3:05am.

Arab TV stations broadcast new video images of Saddam's hanging, apparently shot on a low-quality camera or cellphone by guards or other officials at the execution.

One video on the Internet shows Saddam drop through the trap while still intoning the Muslim profession of faith.

The new video also bore out witness comments that Saddam, 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.

The New York Times quoted a witness as saying that one of the guards shouted just before the hanging: "You have destroyed us. You have killed us. You have made us live in destitution."

Saddam answered: "I have saved you from destitution and misery and destroyed your enemies, the Persians and Americans."

In related news, the Egyptian press yesterday described Saddam's execution as "a sacrifice" made on the Muslim feast of Id al-Adha.

"The United States doesn't care about Muslims' feelings: [US President George W.] Bush kills Saddam on the day of the feast," the liberal Al-Wafd daily's headline read.

Muslims around the world are celebrating Id al-Adha, which remembers the sacrifice God asked Abraham to make of his son.

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Saddam's family may be key to fortune

Saddam's fate divides opinion within Baghdad

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