Category: Mass Murder
Date: July 8, 1982
Crime: Vilified as the violently aggressive Prime Minister of Iraq, he was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, in part for the 1982 murder of 148 Iraqi Shi'ites who he accused of plotting an assassination attempt.
Biography: Born April 28, 1937 in the small town of Al-Awja to a family of shepherds. Hussein never knew his father who abandoned the family six months before his birth. Shortly after his birth, his older brother died of cancer and Saddam was sent to live with his maternal uncle until the age of three. After his mother remarried, he rejoined her and his three new half-brothers. His stepfather treated Saddam harshly, causing him to flee the family by the age of ten. After graduating from secondary school, Saddam attended law school for three years before dropping out to join the revolutionary pan-Arab Ba'ath Party. He participated in a successful government coup in 1963, but was later arrested and imprisoned. He escaped in 1967 and was immediately a leader of the Ba'ath party. In the 70's, Hussein was at the forefront of the modernization of Iraq, including the domination of their oil interests, as well as the development of national education programs. In 1976, he rose to power as the general in charge of the Iraqi Armed Forces and when the current Iraqi leader began to suffer health concerns, Hussein stepped in and assumed control. His reign was a contradiction, in that he did much to secure the future of a modern Iraq, yet he ruled with a brutal, iron fist eradicating anyone and anything that posed a threat to his power. After his capture, following the U.S. invasion in March 2003, Hussein was placed before a Supreme Iraqi Tribunal where he was charged and sentenced to die for the following, and other atrocities: the 1974 assassinations of religious leaders, a gas-attack against Kurdish civilians killing 15,000, and several political assassinations. He was executed by hanging on December 30, 2006.