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4/9/03 - CHEMICAL ALI REPORTED DEAD - 2003-04-09


In addition to Saddam Hussein and his two sons, a number of other Iraqi officials have committed crimes against humanity. One of the most notorious was Ali Hassan al-Majid. There are unconfirmed reports that he may have been killed by a coalition air strike.

A cousin of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid was known as “Chemical Ali” for the atrocities his forces committed in the genocidal Anfal campaign in the late 1980s in northern Iraq. An estimated one-hundred thousand Iraqi Kurds, Turkmen, and others were killed by al-Majid’s forces, thousands by chemical weapons.

But al-Majid’s war crimes were not limited to northern Iraq. As governor of Kuwait during the 1990 Iraqi occupation, he led a campaign of torture, murder, rape, and wholesale looting. And after the liberation of Kuwait in 1991, he led Iraqi forces in brutally suppressing an uprising of Shiites in southern Iraq. Tens of thousands of Shiites were killed -- some shot in the head by al-Majid himself. Those killed included dozens of Shiite Muslim clerics. In many cases, their bodies were hung from the rafters of their own mosques.

Al-Majid’s evil career may have come to an end on April 5th, when his mansion in Basra was hit by laser-guided munitions fired by aircraft of the U.S.-led coalition. British forces are seeking to identify the bodies of those killed in the bombing. One of them was al-Majid’s bodyguard.

But al-Majid was far from the only war criminal in Iraq. As the vise tightens on the Iraqi regime, said President George W. Bush, “some of our enemies have chosen to fill their final days with acts of cowardice and murder”:

“In this war, the Iraqi regime is terrorizing its own citizens, doing everything possible to maximize Iraqi civilian casualties, and then to exploit the deaths they have caused for propaganda. These are war criminals, and they’ll be treated as war criminals.”

The coalition forces will press on, said President Bush, until all the Iraqis’ “oppressors are gone and their whole country is free.”

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