Iraq Executes Chemical Ali

Iraqi TV announced Monday the execution of Chemical Ali, one of Saddam Hussein's top lieutenants. Chemical Ali, whose real name was Ali Hassan al-Majid, was sentenced to death in four separate trials for leading attacks against Iraqi Kurds and Shiites that left tens of thousand dead.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Also in Iraq today, the man who was known as Chemical Ali is dead. The government executed Ali Hassan al-Majid shortly after convicting him for the 1988 poison gas attack on the town of Halabja.

NPRs Quil Lawrence reports.

QUIL LAWRENCE: Ali Hassan al-Majid was a cousin of Saddam Hussein and, in many cases, acted as his executioner. Through the 1980s when Baghdad waged a war of ethnic cleansing against Iraqs Kurdish population, Majid was made military ruler of the northern Kurdish region and ordered the poison gas attacks that killed thousands, including the chemical attack on town of Halabja, where 5,000 Kurdish civilians died in one day.

In audio recordings, Majid is heard bragging about how the international community would take no action, and he earned the macabre nickname Ali Chem Ali or Chemical Ali. Majid was also appointed military of governor of Kuwait for a brief period after the Iraqi invasion in 1990, during which Kuwait city was looted and largely destroyed.

After the U.S. military drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait but left Saddam Hussein in power, Majid presided over the repression of the 1991 Shiite uprising in southern Iraq when tens of thousands are believed to have died. Iraqi state television broadcast pictures of the hanging several hours after the execution.

Quil Lawrence, NPR News, Baghdad.

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