Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thoughts on the Execution of "Chemical Ali"

Yesterday, Iraq executed Ali Hassan al-Majia for his role in deploying mustard gas in the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja in March 1988. This act of barbarism resulted in the deaths of over 5,000 civilians. For this heinous act he would become known as "Chemical Ali."

This man was no flunky. "Chemical Ali" was a cousin of Saddam Hussein and would be put in charge of Kuwait when Saddam's forces invaded that country in August 1990 and was one of his most trusted allies nearly throughout his reign of terror. He was also responsible for the mass executions of Shiites in 1991 and again in 1999.

Given the loss of life that has taken place in Iraq since Saddam was deposed there is a tendency to forget how cruel his regime really was. "Chemical Ali" had no remorse for gassing the Kurds. At one point during his trial in 2006 he said, "I am the one who gave orders to the army to demolish villages and relocate the villagers. The army was responsible to carry out those orders. I am not defending myself. I am not apologizing. I did not make a mistake." He was sentenced to death in June 2007.

For all the allegations that have been leveled against U.S. troops and private security forces in Iraq nothing comes even remotely close to what "Chemical Ali" did to the Kurds. And he bragged about it.

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