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4/11/03 - IRAQIS CELEBRATE FREEDOM - 2003-04-11

Iraqis cheered as a six-meter tall statue of Saddam Hussein crashed to the ground in Firdos Square in Baghdad. CENTCOM spokesman U.S. Brigadier General Vince Brooks explained why:

"Today the regime is in disarray and much of Iraq is free from years of oppression. Televisions across the world today are filled with images of jubilant Iraqis who know the regime is coming to an end."

Yusuf Abed Kazim, a Muslim cleric, pounded the broken statue with a sledgehammer. "I'm forty-nine, but I never lived a single day," he told Western reporters, "only now will I start living. That Saddam Hussein is a murderer and a criminal."

Ali Ibrahim Hussein, a teacher, welcomed the arrival of coalition forces in Basra. "I feel very happy because we have freedom for the first time," he said.

Hamid Fattil took reporters on a tour of the infamous "White Lion" -- the multi-story facility used by the regime's secret police as a jail and interrogation center. Hamid and his two brothers were imprisoned there in 1991. He was freed after eight months of torture and abuse. His brothers are still missing. "They used to strap a leather cord around our head and shoulders and hoist us off the ground. Then they would beat us as we hung there." Hamid said they used other methods of torture, including "electrocution, immersion in a bath of chemicals, and ripping off people's fingernails and toenails."

The world can now clearly see the horror that Saddam Hussein tried for so long to conceal. But Iraq's long night of terror is ending. Now the Iraqi people can begin to build a free Iraq.