President  |  Vice President  |  First Lady  |  Mrs. Cheney  |  News & Policies 
History & ToursKids  |  Your Government  |  Appointments  |  JobsContactGraphic version

Email Updates  |  Español  |  Accessibility  |  Search  |  Privacy Policy  |  Help

Email this page to a friend

Return to Iraq Main Page >>

Archived Items

Tales of Saddam's Brutality

September 20, 2003
The Iraqi people talk about mass graves and Saddam’s crimes against humanity. The cruelty of Saddam's regime is evident in its brutality toward Iraqi citizens. Mass grave sites across Iraq provide further evidence of Saddam's atrocities. Below, the Iraqi people share their stories of brutality, torture, fear, and death.

For more personal stories of life after Saddam, visit Liberation Update.

Remains found at mass gravesites, located near a farm on the outskirts of Al Mahawil, Iraq, May 7, 2003.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Graham.

"Most afternoons, among the market stalls leading to the old city of Najaf young men set up TV sets in the street showing grotesque scenes of cruelty. Handcuffed prisoners are executed with sticks of dynamite shoved into their pockets. Screaming men plead for their lives as they are beaten by Saddam Hussein's secret police. Crimson fragments of bodies lie in the street, moments after a huge explosion, to the soundtrack of an Arab lament. The crowds gather round. People mutter and shake their heads. Then they queue to pay 1,000 Iraqi dinars (about 33p) [50 cents] for laser discs containing footage of the appalling scenes. These are the atrocity discs of Iraq, a booming mini-industry in a country still stricken by the consequences of the war. They are produced in home factories, with the simplest computer equipment."
-- The London Times, September 20, 2003

"The day after the liberation, my aunt put out a black banner--an Arab mourning ritual--with the names of all her relatives who had been murdered by the regime on it. And she looked down her street, and there were black banners on almost every house. On some houses it looks like a long shopping list. She said to her neighbour, 'You too?' Under Saddam it was a crime to mourn people killed by the regime--it made you seem suspicious too. Everyone was suffering terribly, but they were suffering alone. They just didn't know that everyone else was hating it too."
-- Yasser Alaskary, co-founder of Iraqi Prospect Organisation, an Iraqi freedom group, The Independent (London), September 18, 2003

Aweda Abed Al-Amer, 48, grieves over two members of her family found in a mass grave in Musayib, 75 KM SW of Baghdad. She lost 5 members of her family including her husband, son and 3 nephews after an uprising against the Iraqi government in 1991.The bodies wrapped in linen shrouds are being held in a makeshift morgue in a youth center for possible identification. Photo by Thomas Hartwell

"Virtually every athlete at the club has physical or mental scars inflicted by Saddam Hussein's older son, Uday, who took control of Iraq's Olympic Committee in 1984 and began a terrifying campaign of torture and humiliation. Many fled the country, including Mr. [Ahmed] Samarrai....

"'The system of the regime started in primary school,' said Mr. Samarrai, who defected on a trip to Switzerland in 1983 and returned here after the war. 'It was exactly like the Nazis in the 30's.'...

"'Uday played hell with sports,' said Immanuel Baba Dano, a revered figure in Iraq who was coach of the national soccer team for most of the last three decades....

"Some athletes were humiliated, he said. Others were smeared with feces and jailed. Some were placed in a sarcophagus with nails pointed inward so that they would be punctured and suffocated, he said. At least a few were set in front of wild dogs to be torn to pieces. How many were executed is still not clear.

"'Nobody knew what was in his mind,' Mr. Dano said. 'But there was no pity.'"
-- The New York Times, August 17, 2003

"'We smelled something rotten, and when we breathed in, we couldn't breathe out. The sky was full of smoke, and someone said it was chemicals. People started crying and running toward the mountains. I was burning and I became blind, but someone led me out. After walking for two days, we reached Iran.' [Wais Abdel] Qadr was the only member of his family to survive the gassing of Halabja by the Iraqi military on March 16, 1988."
-- The Washington Post, August 7, 2003

Iraqis search for their relatives and friends among victims found in a mass grave in Musayib, 75 KM SW of Baghdad. The victims are thought to be from among some 2,000 persons reported missing after the 1991 uprising against the Iraqi government. The bodies wrapped in linen shrouds are being held in a makeshift morgue in a youth center. Photo by Thomas Hartwell.

"Freed in April after 13 years in prison, [Dr. Ibrahim] Basri [Saddam's former physician] is now reaching out to register and help as many victims of the regime as he can find. They stream to a clinic attached to his house, a sad collection of former political prisoners, relatives of the executed, and maimed men who cannot work because they lost an arm, an ear, or a foot to the torturer's knife. 'All the time in prison, I think, "What can I do to help these people?"' he said. ... 'For the first five years, he put me in a cell by myself, 2 meters by 2 1/2 meters, where I didn't know if it was day or night. I was so dirty with lice. There were cockroaches in my mouth at night. And they came to beat you in the morning and at night for nothing, nothing.' Once, he continued, the guards beat him in front of 300 inmates until they broke his legs. 'I never said, "Mercy." I just said, "Iraq."
-- The Boston Globe, August 7, 2003

"The nightmares persist, even years later, as Ehab Al Deen cannot shake the memories of torment from his summer camp with 'Saddam's Lion Cubs.'

"Like thousands of Iraqi teens, Al Deen vividly recalls long marches in oppressive heat, being slapped by military trainers for not following orders and spending nights in fields listening to the howls of wolves.

"The camps culminated each August with a ceremony in which the youths were videotaped in the Iraqi fighter tradition of ripping a dog's flesh with their teeth.

"'The dogs were already dead,' said Al Deen, 18, who attended the camp in 1998 and still recalls the bitter taste. 'It was horrible.' ...

"They were mostly disenfranchised children from poor neighborhoods or sons of Baath Party members recruited by teachers during the school year. ...

"But once they arrived at the two military camps on the outskirts of Baghdad, the youths found hard work and mostly empty promises....

"'I was so scared,' said Al Deen, who was 13 when he went to the camp in 1998. 'We cried for hours.'"
-- Chicago Tribune, August 3, 2003

A sign of mourning posted recently outside a house in a neighborhood a few kilometers from a mass grave southeast of Basrah. The sign in Arabic reads: "Matar Jaber Ali was killed by Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party in 1991." Matar's brothers put up the sign outside their house after they dug up a robe at the mass grave, which they believe their brother was wearing when he disappeared in 1991. Similar signs can be seen posted throughout southern Iraq, often with printed photos of people missing or killed by Saddam's brutal regime. Sally Hodgson - Department of State.

"The bodyguard says he was disgusted by Uday's activities-he points to a floor-to-ceiling cage in the corner of the club's kitchen where he says monkeys were kept for Uday because he liked to have the animals watch him when he was deflowering virgins. ... It was his to make the singers who entertained Uday at the Boat Club gulp down a liter and a half of a 'cocktail,' a combination of 90-proof alcohol often with some drugs thrown in. ...

"'I would line up all the entertainment against that wall,' the bodyguard said, pointing to the side of the garage. 'And I would take a stick. ... And I would say, "Drink, drink, you have 10 minutes." If any of them didn't drink, I hit them with a stick.' ... Then, if the singers still refused, they were given a 'street beating,' meaning that their faces were untouched but they were pummeled until they could hardly stand up....

"'I always felt like I was the one who took the beatings because each shout of pain from the beaten person, I used to pray to God and ask God to punish me for what I was doing. But the person who took the beating did not know that if I didn't carry out the orders, I would take the same beating that he was getting.'"
-- Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2003

"Jailers often treated allegedly lagging players in ways certain to hurt, not improve, the athletes' performances on the field. After shaving their heads to humiliate them, athletes were hung upside down and the soles of their feet whipped. They were buried in hot sand up to their necks. Their fingers or ears were amputated. Electric shocks were applied to their skin. And, in the case of soccer players, they were forced to kick concrete balls."
-- USA TODAY, July 30, 2003

Iraqi workers dig for the remains of Iraqis from a mass grave in Musayib, 75 KM SW of Baghdad. The victims are thought to be from among some 2,000 persons reported missing after the 1991 uprising against the Iraqi government. Photo by Thomas Hartwell.

At only 22, Tareq, a defender, has been to prison five times. After a while, he recognized a pattern to the punishment. "The first stage of the torture is the reception, when you are given a choice of which plastic cable you will be beaten with. Then you are beaten 15 to 20 times. The reception is over. In the next stage, you are thrown into knee-deep sewer water and told to swim," he says. Tareq was dragged bare-chested across hot asphalt. Made to run barefoot over broken glass and gravel. When it was time to leave, he says, "The farewell party is a beating."
-- USA TODAY, July 30, 2003

Tareq recalls how his team was invited to pose for pictures with Uday. At 6-5, Tareq towered over Uday. "The next day, I was taken and flogged 20 times" for being taller, says Tareq, who plans to leave Iraq soon to play professionally in Germany or Scandinavia.
-- USA TODAY, July 30, 2003

"Ahmad was Uday's chief executioner. Last week, as Iraqis celebrated the death of his former boss and his equally savage younger brother Qusay, he nervously revealed a hideous story. His instructions that day in 1999 were to arrest the two 19-year-olds on the campus of Baghdad's Academy of Fine Arts and deliver them at Radwaniyah. On arrival at the sprawling compound, he was directed to a farm where he found a large cage. Inside, two lions waited. They belonged to Uday. Guards took the two young men from the car and opened the cage door. One of the victims collapsed in terror as they were dragged, screaming and shouting, to meet their fate. Ahmad watched as the students frantically looked for a way of escape. There was none. The lions pounced. 'I saw the head of the first student literally come off his body with the first bite and then had to stand and watch the animals devour the two young men. By the time they were finished there was little left but for the bones and bits and pieces of unwanted flesh,' he recalled last week."
-- Sunday Times, London, July 27, 2003

One of the condemned women was pregnant. This presented a problem, said Ahmad, because under religious law a pregnant woman should at least be allowed to finish her term and deliver the baby before being executed. 'She was several months' pregnant,' he said. 'The doctor had verified it, she had said so and we could see her swollen stomach. She was taken in and out three times - everyone was unsure what to do with her.' Telephone calls were made to Uday by his representative. As they waited, the woman sobbed and begged for mercy for her unborn child. On the third telephone call the order was given to go ahead with her execution. 'At that the woman was beheaded - and knowing she was pregnant, I felt sick in the stomach and wished for Allah to open up the ground and swallow everyone there including myself,' said Ahmad.
-- Sunday Times, London, July 27, 2003

"They put me in a cell just 1m by 1.5m, painted completely red with no windows and lots of tiny stones on the floor and told me to count them. It did not matter what number you said it would be wrong. If I said 2000, they would say no, it's 2001 and beat me 10 times. Then they put me inside a circle and told me to run round and round for nine hours. After that they threw me on the hot pavement and a fat guard sat on my chest. Then they pulled me along by my ankles so that my back was streaming with blood.

"Another time they drew a bicycle on the wall and told me to ride it. They threw me in foul dirty water and said you must swim, then they kept pushing me under with a stick forcing me to drink.

"Once they told us we had to catch 10 flies during the night and 10 mosquitoes during the day or you would be tortured more. This was impossible so you had to catch the mosquitoes at night and hold them till daytime and vice versa with the flies. Then they would ask which is male and which is female. Whatever you said it would be vice versa."
-- Sunday Times, London, July 27, 2003

"I have never spoken of this before because I was afraid for my family," said Faig. "But now they are gone, and we are finally free to speak of such things."
-- Sunday Times, London, July 27, 2003

"When I was in Iraq a doctor from Basra told me that, after being jailed by the police some years ago, he refused to tell his inquisitors whatever it was they wanted to hear. Instead of beating him, he told me, they brought in his 3-month-old daughter. The interrogator tore the screaming infant's eye out. When the desired answers were still not forthcoming, the questioner hurled the little girl against the concrete wall and smashed her skull."
-- The New York Times, July 26, 2003

"After games, they called me from Odai's office," Mahmod said. "They would say: 'This player, this player, this player.' I would organize the players. They would sit in a room. Someone would come and take them, jail them."

"If he would find any small mistake, he would directly punish me," said Laith Hussein, captain since 1996 of the Iraqi national soccer team, recalling "10 or 12" times that he was jailed over the years.
-- Los Angeles Times, July 25, 2003

Iraqi exiles agreed that Uday Hussein, the eldest of five children, personified the government's random brutality. Human rights groups and Iraqi exiles accused him of routinely kidnapping women off the streets, raping and sometimes torturing them, and personally supervising the torture and humiliation of hundreds of prisoners. Such conduct earned him the title "Abu Sarhan," the Arabic term for "father of the wolf."
-- The New York Times, July 23, 2003

Iraqis search for their relatives and friends among victims found in a mass grave in Musayib, 75 KM SW of Baghdad. The victims are thought to be from among some 2,000 persons reported missing after the 1991 uprising against the Iraqi government. The bodies wrapped in linen shrouds are being held in a makeshift morgue in a youth center. Photo by Thomas Hartwell.

"I remember once I was in the disco in the Al-Mansour hotel," said a former air force engineer, who asked to remain anonymous. "We were up there dancing with some Irish nurses. Then Qusay and his guys come in. I'm dancing with this nurse and suddenly Qusay is at my side. He just pulls back his jacket and shows me his gun. I said to the nurse, 'You can stay if you want but we're leaving.'"
-- Newsday (New York), July 23, 2003

"Contrary to what has been written, Uday was never married and he was obsessed with women. If he spotted a woman he fancied in the street or at a reception, he would send his henchmen to fetch her."
-- Uday's former aide, Agence France Presse, July 22, 2003

"Prisoners were often eliminated with a bullet to the head, but one witness told the London-based human rights group Indict that inmates were sometimes murdered by being dropped into shredding machines. Some prisoners went in headfirst and died quickly, while others were put in feet first and died screaming. The witness said that on at least one occasion, Qusai supervised shredding-machine murders."
-- Associated Press, July 22, 2003

"In the last room, where she was held for several hours, the door was locked. At sunset two men entered. She recalled they said they had to take routine security precautions in advance of a meeting with Uday Hussein. They slipped a black hood over her head and tied her hands behind her back. The anxiety, which had mounted through the day, flared into terror. She was taken down to a lower level in an elevator and then along a passageway that seemed narrow because of the way the two men bumped against her. She was pushed into a room and tied, spread-eagle, to a bed.

"'All of this period, I didn't resist,' she said. 'But on the bed, I knew. I said, "I am like your sister; please don't do this." I started to beg. They said if our sister married an Indian and started a network against the government, we would kill her. I kept praying, calling for Jesus and the Virgin Mary. I prayed to Muhammad. They damned them all.'

"'They raped me twice that first day,' she continued. 'I don't know the persons. Two of them. I couldn't see them. They kept raping for four days as well as I can remember. They took my honor.'

"Over the next seven months, Hanna said, she implicated people she had never heard of in a spy network she knew nothing about. She was routinely beaten and she said the Major, in a grotesque joke, kept three sticks on a wall hanging under the names Jesus, the prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali, whom Shiite Muslims believe is Muhammad's true heir. Whichever holy man a prisoner called out for determined which stick they were beaten with. The Major, she said, also routinely used electric shock and once set a police dog on her in a small room; the scar of the bite mark is still on her arm.

"One of his preferred forms of torture, she said, was to order the women to strip, then tie them to the tree trunk, and smear wet sugar on them so the dogs would terrorize them as they licked it off their bodies. Hanna also identified his superior at the academy."
-- The Washington Post, July 21, 2003

"Saddam's troops and Fedayeen first stormed through the region in armed helicopters in 1991- the helicopters that Norman Schwarzkopf allowed him to keep. One man says his son was hung for belonging to a Shiite political group. Another man says his father and uncle were hung in front of him when he was a 15-year-old. Entire families were slaughtered."
-- The Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2003

"'Among them here are children of ages less than three - what was their guilt that they should be murdered?' Mr Amin said. 'Just because they were Kurds? Among them are old women with no teeth. What harm could they do? Saddam Hussein was nothing but a dictator and a killer.'

"Sunni Arab villager Ali Ibrahim said his friend Khalil Eid, then a 14-year-old shepherd, was one of the few local people to have had first-hand experience of the massacre. 'One day he came to this place with his sheep and some army vehicles came, and they told him to go far away because there would be shooting practice here,' Mr Ibrahim said. 'He went far off into the desert but later he sneaked back and heard the sound of firing and people screaming.' After the forces had driven away he came and saw they had leveled the ground. It's a disaster. It's a crime that cannot be described."
-- The Age (Melbourne), July 17, 2003

"'That's when I realized this was no ordinary execution,' said the officer, a retired colonel from the Iraqi 2nd Army Corps who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"'The government was using prisoners to test its chemical weapons.'

"'He didn't have a mark on him, nothing,' Al-Hamid recalled bitterly. 'We were told not to touch him. We were told to bury him as fast as possible.' As for the Iraqi army intelligence officer who claims to have witnessed the test gassing of hundreds of prisoners at an open-air site in the desert near Jalula, which is about 80 miles northeast of Baghdad and 20 miles from the Iranian border, he asserted that the bodies he saw also bore no marks. 'It was like they were asleep,' he said with lingering awe."
-- Chicago Tribune, July 16, 2003

"'You see, sir,' said Karim Jasim, an excavator brushing dirt off a skeleton at the al-Musayyib mass grave near Kerbala, 'there are two Iraqis; one above the ground, and another beneath it.'"
-- The Observer (London), July 6, 2003

"'We'd raise their legs and place their feet into this sort of wooden frame and we would beat them on the soles of their feet,' said Abu Firaz, a former guard, describing one of the punishments for taking drugs, fighting or having gay sex."
-- Newsday (New York), July 3, 2003

"At the age of 21, he had spent 10 days in a torture cell. He says it's a hard thing to talk about, even now. When he does, he describes sadistic brutality with matter-of-fact detail. His tormentors did everything to stop him from sleeping so that he didn't know whether it was night or day. 'Then they take you,' he says. 'They put you flat on a table. Then they tie your legs and hands and they put you under a water tap. Then they let the water tap drip. You cannot move your head and they say you have to confess.' This went on for hour after hour before he passed out. 'One drop,' he says. 'But it's like a bomb.' 'The other one was that they bring in an animal,' he says, searching for the English word. 'Yes, a goat. They put a lot of salt on your feet and they bring in the goat to lick your feet.' The process, he says, induces uncontrollable laughing and crying at first and builds into a loss of control of the nervous system -- eventually a loss of consciousness."
-- CanWest Interactive, June 29, 2003

"You don't know, maybe it is your brother who is going to submit a report against you; maybe your cousin. You can't trust anybody. Even if you are alone in the toilet, you can't say anything. Maybe your wife will hear it."
-- Jasim, a former Ministry of Information official, National Catholic Reporter, June 20, 2003

"Stand at the mass grave near Kirkuk, where huge mechanised trucks churn the earth in clouds of dust. Look at the skeletons now tenderly reburied in simple wooden coffins. Talk to Nasir al-Hussein, who was only 12 at the time of the 1991 mass arrests. He, his mother, uncle and cousins were piled on buses. They turned off on to a farm road and the executions started. People were thrown into a pit, machine gunned and then buried with a bulldozer. Nasir crawled out of the mass grave, leaving his dead relatives behind."
-- The Times (London), June 18, 2003

"We should have been treated as heroes by Uday. Instead, we were sent to prison and had our heads shaved when we returned to Baghdad."
-- Maki Hemal, a member of the Iraqi wrestling team, Sunday Telegraph (London), June 15, 2003

"Saddam Hussein's regime was similar to those of the Nazis and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in that there is a vast amount of documentary evidence relating to the atrocities they committed.

"We visited the notorious Abu Gehb Prison outside Baghdad and found written records of prisoners being executed by being put through mincing machines."
-- Western Mail, June 14, 2003

"My family lived in fear of his men, who were always watching us. Family friends were assassinated, tortured, or just disappeared."
-- Sharif Ali, The Daily Telegraph, June 11, 2003

"It was turned into a prison and torture chamber. Many of the people who carried out the coup were later tortured there. It was dubbed the 'Palace of the End.'"
-- Sharif Ali, pointing out what happened to his family palace, The Daily Telegraph, June 11, 2003

"'These people were taken from prisons and detention centers to execution,' said Sheik Kadhim Fartousi, a prominent Baghdad cleric who took charge of the excavation. 'We believe there are thousands of other victims here.'"

"Fartousi said security sources in the former government told his organization that some resisted the executions. 'A colonel in charge of intelligence objected to the killing and said, "The regime is on the verge of collapse, why execute people?" So he was executed,' Fartousi said, as the smell of decaying bodies wafted through the blazing heat."
-- The Washington Post, June 9, 2003

"Two witnesses from the village of Salman Pak, south of the capital, said they had seen 115 corpses stacked in piles here on April 10, all of them men with their hands tied behind their backs who had been shot in the back of the head. In attempts to exhume bodies on Saturday and today, Iraqis retrieved the remains of eight victims, none of whom, however, appeared to have died recently."
-- The Washington Post, June 9, 2003

"Saddam killed our people for resisting him. Some were executed for speaking in a religious way when greeting his men. A woman was killed for wearing a veil."
-- Bakr al-Saad, a member of the Daawa party, Orlando Sentinel, June 8, 2003

"'We were forbidden even to have a funeral. Sheik Jaafar's men told us our house would be destroyed if even one relative came to console us,' said Qadir, whose spare living room is adorned with a photo of President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. 'The security men came anyway and smashed our furniture and dishes.'"
-- Los Angeles Times, June 8, 2003

"Now, 12 years later, Mr. Shaati cannot remember if the women and children beside him screamed as the bullets hit, or whether the men in the hole moaned as they died. He only recalls a moment of hollow silence when the soldiers stopped shooting. Then came the throaty rumble of a backhoe and the thud of wet earth dropping on bodies. He survived but saw hundreds of other innocents buried in another of Saddam Hussein's anonymous mass graves."
-- The New York Times, June 2, 2003

"Her most disturbing memory is of the time she felt nothing but her own pain. After the beatings and electric shocks, Suriya Abdel Khader would find herself once again in the fetid cell, a room so crowded that most prisoners could only stand. The women died upright, then slumped to the floor, but Ms. Abdel Khader remembers registering only a dull flash of annoyance whenever that happened. 'Get this body out of the way,' she would think to herself. 'It's taking up room.' She was imprisoned, she believes, because her four brothers had been arrested in Mr. Hussein's blanket crackdown on Shiites suspected of supporting Iran or the Islamic Dawa Party."
-- The New York Times, June 2, 2003

"The soldiers took them out in groups of 100 to 150 people. When his time came, Mr. Shaati was ordered to remove his T-shirt and rip it into strips that were tied over his eyes and around his hands. The prisoners were herded onto a bus, everyone holding on with their teeth to the shirt of the person in front of them. When they arrived at a field - Mr. Shaati is still not sure where - their grave had already been prepared. 'They led us down an incline into a wide long hole,' he said. 'It was quiet. No one fell or even cried. I was positioned very close to the corner, maybe second or third from the wall. Then they started shooting. Somehow I wasn't hit. By then, I guess, they didn't go to the trouble of shooting all of us.' After the grave was covered, Mr. Shaati, alive but choking on dirt, wormed his way out of the ditch. He punched through the earthen blanket with his head, and worked himself free of the cloth straps. Gulping the cold night air, he knew that all his soldierly ideas about honor and country counted for nothing."
-- The New York Times, June 2, 2003

"She spent one year being moved from prison to torture center to prison and back. Her tormenters would hang her from a hook in the ceiling by her arms, which were bound behind her back. Sometimes they added electric shocks. Sometimes they beat her on the soles of her feet until they were engorged with blood and her toenails fell off. She was 25.

"'I was lucky that I became like a dead body,' she said. 'I didn't know what was going on around me. There was no water, no bathroom. The only food was two big pots they brought in, one with dirty rice and one of soup. You had to fight for it. If you were strong and healthy, you'd get food. If you were weak, you'd wait.'

"After the torture came the sham trial, then a sentence to spend her life at Rashad women's prison, a maze of unheated cells where the sewage would float from the one toilet down the corridors and seep onto the women's rough mattresses."
-- The New York Times, June 2, 2003

"Clawing through the dirt, Abdelhassan al-Mohani collected his brother bone by bone. He knelt in a hole at the edge of a cemetery near the village of Muhammad Sakran, just outside Baghdad. The faded writing on a plastic armband in the grave told him this was his brother, Abdelhussein. Mr. Mohani held the skull and gently brushed the dirt from the eye socket. Then he wept.

"Abdelhussein had disappeared on his way to work in Baghdad on Jan. 23, 1981. His family never heard a word from the government, but eventually they drew the obvious conclusion: as a Shiite, he must have been arrested in the Islamic Dawa Party roundup."
-- The New York Times, June 2, 2003

"At the first grave site that the team is investigating - a bleak square-mile expanse of sand and silt near the town of Musayib, 40 miles south of Baghdad - local people have already dug up the skeletal remains of almost 650 victims. Blindfolded with their hands tied, they had been herded into trenches and shot - executed in March and April 1991 during the failed uprising that followed the first Gulf war. Some were buried alive when the holes were filled in over them by bulldozer. In a race against time, it is now up to the scientists from Inforce (the International Forensic Centre), a British charity set up 18 months ago to investigate mass killings and genocide, to persuade their relatives not to uncover any more bodies so that vital forensic evidence is kept intact."
-- The Sunday Telegraph (London), June 1, 2003

"His mother tried to keep him close, but her hands were tied and she could not hold the children. They all stumbled into the ready-made grave. 'They were shooting at us, but I didn't get hit,' Mr. Husseini said. 'I was lying on top of my mother. Then someone came down in the hole and dragged me up by my collar and yelled, "Shoot this kid!" I was pretending to be dead. And they started shooting at me again, but still I didn't get hit. Then the shovel came.' He felt himself being lifted with the dirt and dropped once again into the hole. 'I rolled myself to the edge and then to a place where there were reeds and water and the reeds were all sticking in my face,' he recalled. 'My body wasn't covered with the dirt, just my head. I could breath but I didn't move. A man came to check and was standing over the hole where everyone was buried and he called to the shovel driver, "Come and cover this kid." But the driver, maybe he didn't hear, because he didn't come.'"
-- The New York Times, June 1, 2003

"A chef at Baghdad's exclusive Hunting Club recalls a wedding party that Uday crashed in the late 1990s. After Uday left the hall, the bride, a beautiful woman from a prominent family, went missing. 'The bodyguards closed all the doors, didn't let anybody out,' the chef remembers. 'Women were yelling and crying, "What happened to her?"' The groom knew. 'He took a pistol and shot himself,' says the chef, placing his forefinger under his chin.

"Last October another bride, 18, was dragged, resisting, into a guardhouse on one of Uday's properties, according to a maid who worked there. The maid says she saw a guard rip off the woman's white wedding dress and lock her, crying, in a bathroom. After Uday arrived, the maid heard screaming. Later she was called to clean up. The body of the woman was carried out in a military blanket, she said. There were acid burns on her left shoulder and the left side of her face. The maid found bloodstains on Uday's mattress and clumps of black hair and peeled flesh in the bedroom. A guard told her, "Don't say anything about what you see, or you and your family will be finished."
-- Time, May 25, 2003

"Uday's physical ailments seemed to heighten his sadistic tendencies. According to his chief bodyguard, when Uday learned that one of his close comrades, who knew of his many misdeeds, was planning to leave Iraq, he invited him to his 37th-birthday party and had him arrested. An eyewitness at the prison where the man was held says members of the Fedayeen grabbed his tongue with pliers and sliced it off with a scalpel so he could not talk. A maid who cleaned one of Uday's houses says she once saw him lop off the ear of one of his guards and then use a welder's torch on his face."
-- Time, May 25, 2003

"Uday's favourite punishment was the medieval falaqa, a rod with clamps that go around the ankles so that the offender, feet in the air, can be hit on the bare soles with a stick. A top official in radio and TV says he received so many beatings for trivial mistakes like being late for meetings or making grammatical errors on his broadcasts that Uday ordered him to carry a falaqa in his car. Uday also had an iron maiden that he used to torture Iraqi athletes whose performance disappointed him.
-- Time, May 25, 2003

"A map provided by a former driver for Iraqi military intelligence brought Abdulaziz al-Qubaisi Abu Musab to the abandoned Iraqi military camp here this morning in search of the answer to the question that most Kuwaitis have asked - and dreaded - since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf war: where are the nearly 600 missing Kuwaitis? "Mr. Abu Musab, a member of the Iraqi National Congress, the political movement headed by Ahmad Chalabi, said he had been given the map by a man who, in October 1991, was among the drivers who took the Kuwaiti prisoners to their execution in Baghdad and subsequent burial here, 50 miles west of the capital. "It was impossible to speak directly to this driver, who calls himself Samir and still fears for his life, or to say today how accurate his account of the execution is. But the map he gave Mr. Abu Musab proved very accurate."
-- The New York Times, May 17, 2003

"Abas Rahim, a speedy 24-year-old left wing for Police, is one of Iraq's finest players. After returning home from 1997 Junior World Cup qualifying matches in South Korea, Rahim was jailed for 21 days. He was the team captain, as well as the tournament's most valuable player, and he was punished for the team's failure. "Five years later, after trying to quit the team, Rahim missed a crucial penalty kick against the Union Club in Qatar. He was held captive in Hussein's Republican Palace for seven days, he recalled, blindfolded the entire time. Today, he played unafraid."
-- The Washington Post, May 17, 2003

"The killing began one morning in October 1991 at 8:30. The frightened Kuwaitis - blindfolded, with hands bound by lime-green plastic ties - were ordered into horseshoe formations at the training school for the intelligence service in Baghdad. The prisoners had been brought there that morning in vans and buses.

"A single intelligence man carrying a machine gun positioned himself inside the horseshoe. The prisoners wept and cried out the Muslim prayer before death: there is no god but God.

"The gunfire began. The shooter pivoted, according to the account provided to Mr. Abu Musab, using the horseshoe formation to make the executions quicker. Formation after formation was brought forward until all were dead. All were men, save one."
-- Agence France-Presse, May 17, 2003

"An intensive search for Kuwaiti soldiers and civilians missing since the first Persian Gulf war may have ended at this remote site, where skulls, brown pants and bones sticking up eerily from the sand were unearthed in the first day of digging at the site.

"When Saddam Hussein fell, there were grim hopes that the missing might still be alive but starving in one of the regime's prisons. Coalition searches found the prisons empty. Instead, it now appears the Kuwaitis were already dead.

"Ten buses carrying the 'disappeared' had been driven northwest of Baghdad past the relatively prosperous city of Fallujah, according to the driver of one of the buses. The prisoners were unloaded, shot, then buried in deep pits."
-- The Washington Times, May 17, 2003

"Desperate relatives and friends were digging to find remains of their loved ones yesterday at what US soldiers said was the largest mass grave of Saddam Hussein's victims discovered in Iraq. ... Seven days into the dig, the scene resembles a battlefield of the dead: the loose sandy soil carved into trenches, ditches and foxholes by a bulldozer. All around lie piles of remains: pelvic bones, ribs, femurs and skulls -- one still wearing its weave-pattern prayer cap, another the blindfold affixed by his killers shortly before death. From many protrude the identity cards, amber necklaces, front-door keys and watches used by relatives to identify their brothers, cousins and sons. A plastic artificial leg sticks out of one pile, two crutches from another."
-- The Australian, May 15, 2003

"On an exhumed mound beside the most westerly row of corpses, Ali Abdul Hassan Mekki, 50, sat with a plastic bag between his feet. Thirteen years ago his brother, Jaffar, disappeared during Hussein's post-rebellion slaughter. It was, for him, the worst possible outcome -- misery without certainty. 'I think this is my brother,' he said. 'This is my pullover, which he always borrowed from me to wear, but it is not enough to identify him. The problem is that I don't recognise this wallet and the identity card does not have any writing on it.'"
-- The Australian, May 15, 2003

"The executions took place two or three times on most days, Arjawi said. Each time, between 100 and 150 blindfolded people, their hands and sometimes feet bound, were led into pits about 10 feet deep. Gunmen then fired into the pit, often for several minutes, Arjawi said. A bulldozer then pushed dirt onto the bodies, sometimes burying or crushing people who had survived the volley and were trying to climb out."
-- Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2003

"[J]ust to see the landscape of bones mixed with clothing, skulls strewn in the splay of human detritus and other remains is chilling. At first, it just seems like hundreds of bundles of clothes have been laid out on the dikes and roads that cut through the marshes here.

"Then the traces of human anatomy appear. A femur from a leg, a humerus from an arm, a shard of pelvis, and skull peeking out from a gray blanket that someone assembling remains laid down. The bundles reveal themselves as the former repositories of living human flesh, before the gunfire sent them on their journey into the marsh.

"'It's a kind of hell out there,' said Mr. Nasir, who no longer plants onions where so many bodies have been desecrated. 'We have always known that there were people here, but we couldn't take them,' he said. 'We knew our Muslim brothers were not buried properly, but we couldn't say a word.'"
-- The New York Times, May 14, 2003

"Hundreds of Iraqis whose loved ones vanished during the 1991 Shiite Muslim uprising watched Tuesday as workers dug into a mass grave, a backhoe pulling up eight or nine bodies at a time, and perhaps as many as 3,000 over the past four days. Villagers clutched the remains to their chests, trying to keep them intact as they fell from the machine's big shovel. They laid the bodies in the dirt nearby, next to hundreds of others waiting to be claimed. Then they searched for personal papers, the remnants of a wristwatch or other items that might reveal the identities of the dead."
-- Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2003

"Seven days into the dig, the scene resembles a battlefield of the dead, the loose sandy soil carved into trenches, ditches and foxholes by a bulldozer. All around lie piles of remains: pelvic bones, ribs, femurs and skulls--one still wearing its weave-pattern prayer cap, another the blindfold affixed by his killers shortly before death. From many protrude the identity cards, amber necklaces, front-door keys and watches used by relatives to identify their brothers, cousins and sons. A plastic artificial leg sticks out of one pile, two crutches from another."
-- The Daily Telegraph (London), May 14, 2003

"As clumps of hair blew across the hard, dry land, Jabar Sattar sat rocking and sobbing on a hill of dirt created by the backhoe. He cradled a clear plastic bag containing the remains of his younger brother Faris. Faris was a soldier, he said, and had just returned from Kuwait when private security men arrested him in his front yard, just two miles from the grave site. 'I looked for 12 years,' Sattar cried into the bag of remains. 'Every day I told myself, you're alive and will come back. Now what am I going to say to our father?'"
-- Los Angeles Times, May 14, 2003

"In two days, they've found 2,000 bodies--men, women, children, some handicapped. Many skeletons were still blindfolded. The Iraqis and the US military believe there are several thousand more. This is an archaeological site. And it's no accident the bodies were buried here. Under Saddam Hussein, it was illegal for Iraqis to dig here, or even walk on the site. Search teams look for identification inside crumbling wallets, adding each name to a ledger. If there's no ID, they hope a relative might recognize something -- a watch, a scarf."
-- ABC World News Tonight, May 13, 2003

"The skeletal remains on display Monday showed signs of physical trauma. Some still had faded bandages tied around the eye sockets and black cloth binding the feet. Several skulls had large holes on one side or were crushed in the back. In each open wooden coffin, the bones were carefully wrapped in white cloth, surrounded by scraps of hair, bits of teeth and bones. The visible evidence of their demise drove scores of black-clad women to wailing and men to weep."
-- Associated Press, May 12, 2003

"For people streaming past 32 coffins laid out in Basra's al-Jumhuriya Grand Mosque on Monday, grief competed with anger as they searched for relatives who disappeared after a Shiite Muslim uprising in 1999. Peering into a simple plywood coffin, Karima Musa Mohammed carefully looked over the remains inside--a ragged blindfold tied around the skull, feet bound by black cloth, faded gray pants, light gray shirt. 'No, not him. Not my son,' she pronounced, then burst into tears. The mass grave was one of many being unearthed around the country as Iraqis come to grips with the reality of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime."
-- Associated Press, May 12, 2003

"The grave was no more than a long trench, with dirt shoveled over the men executed for their role in the uprising here in 1999 after the killing of a prominent Shiite cleric, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, said relatives who viewed the remains today.

"On March 25, 1999, a shepherd in the desert about 45 miles north of Basra saw men being brought by Baath Party trucks to an open clearing, said Ali Hassan, 20. The shepherd said he saw a backhoe dig a long trench and the men, blindfolded, were lined up in front of the ditch. Then they were shot."
-- The New York Times, May 12, 2003

"Two years ago, Iraqi wrestler Maitham Ali Hadi was competing in the Arab championships in Syria and defected. When the delegation returned home without him, its members were imprisoned and tortured. The punishment - which included wrestlers, coaches, journalists and referees - was a message to others who might have been considering defections. Even the chairman and the secretary of the wrestling federation were imprisoned, though they weren't in Syria during the tournament. 'At night, we used to hear the voices of our colleagues being tortured. We felt their pain alongside them,' former wrestling federation head Loai Sateh said in a recent interview."
-- Associated Press May 11, 2003

"Fakher Ali al-Jamali, who headed Iraq's handicapped team, was whipped with electric cables for two days after two members of his team went missing during a 1998 tournament. He was released only after they showed up."
-- Associated Press May 11, 2003

"One of the tools used by Odai to torture athletes is currently on display at al-Hikma Mosque in Baghdad. It is a 2-meter (6-foot) body suit of metal bars that was used to restrain offending athletes under the scorching sun for hours. One athlete who spoke on condition of anonymity said he was placed in the suit for long hours under blistering sun. A hose dripped water into his mouth to prevent him from dying of dehydration. 'Whenever I tried to move my body, I would feel the burn of the metal rods,' said the man, displaying scarred legs and hands."
-- Associated Press, May 11, 2003

"At Baghdad's teeming Al-Mutanabi book market, Ali al-Saadi held up a gilded Islamist book and recalled the one he said led to his torture in one of Saddam Hussein's military prisons. 'When I was a literature student in 1982, intelligence officers found a book by Mohammed Sadeq Sadr in my house,' said Saadi of the Shiite ayatollah whose 1999 murder was widely attributed to Saddam's Sunni-majority regime. 'They accused me of organizing a political group. I spent three years in jail and suffered a lot,' he said, showing scars on his wrists from prison chains and gaps where he said three teeth had been pulled out with pliers. Saadi was just one of many writers and thinkers at the weekly market who celebrated being able to buy and sell books that were illegal under the old regime."
-- Agence France-Presse, May 9, 2003

"First they broke his right arm with a pipe. Then they punctured his right eardrum with a skewer. And then they tried to break his right leg with a bat. But when the X-rays that Uday Hussein demanded as proof of their efficiency showed in fact they had not broken Tariq Abdul Whab's leg, his captors took him back to prison where someone smashed his right leg with such ferocity that his toe hit his kneecap. Mr. Whab received all this treatment simply because Uday thought the sports television reporter was being disloyal to him by talking to soccer players he didn't like."
-- The Vancouver Sun, May 3, 2003

"In May 1991, having served in the Persian Gulf War with the Marines, I volunteered for further duty in Provide Comfort -- a joint military operation designed to assist in the relocation of Kurdish refugees into northern Iraq. Assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I was flown to the city of Zakho, where the unit was establishing its headquarters in and around an abandoned Iraqi divisional headquarters building....

"As the Marines began digging defensive positions and putting up tents, a grisly discovery was made. Heavy equipment had unearthed myriad body parts; hands, arms, legs, etc., were uncovered in what was determined to have been a mass grave. Most telling among this evidence of inhumanity was an infant's sandal.

"The body parts were reburied immediately after their discovery, but for many days the stench of rotting flesh lingered in the air until all the remains were located and reburied. It was later learned from the Kurds that about 70 of their tribesmen had been taken into this Iraqi divisional HQ and that none had come out alive. The victims were brutally tortured and executed, their remains then thrown into a common grave."
-- James Zumwalt, op-ed in The Washington Post, April 30, 2003

"...Turkish officials were told how Turkomans and Kurds were tortured together by Saddam Hussein's Iraqi police at the notorious security headquarters of Kirkuk. 'I was taken into custody and forced to sit on my knees for six days in a cell one meter by one meter along with a Kurdish prisoner,' a Turkoman man told the group. The man, who asked not to be named, said, 'Even this shows how we and the Kurds suffered the same fate in this city.'"
-- Turkish Daily News, April 29, 2003

"As part of the prison routine, Issa was tortured daily, sometimes twice a day. Battery acid was spilled on his feet, which are now deformed. With his hands bound behind his back, he was hanged by his wrists from the ceiling until his shoulders dislocated; he still cannot lift his hands above his head. The interrogators' goal: 'They just wanted me to say I was plotting against the Baath Party, so they could take me and execute me. If they got a confession, they would get 100,000 dinars [roughly $40].'"
-- Newsweek, April 28, 2003

"A nondescript five-story building notable only by the extra barbed wire on the roof, the Haakimiya Prison is actually 10 stories. Below ground are interrogation cells where unspeakable horrors were committed. ...A former inmate, Mohsen Mutar Ulga, 34, ...was searching for documents about his cousin, executed under Saddam. Ulga said he was sentenced to 12 years in jail for belonging to an armed religious group called 'the revenge movement for Sadr,' referring to a martyred Shiite cleric. He had been arrested with 19 others; the lucky ones were executed right away. The rest were tortured with electric cattle prods and forced to watch the prison guards gang-rape their wives and sisters. Some were fed into a machine that looked like a giant meat cutter. 'People's bodies were cut into tiny pieces and thrown into the Tigris River,' said Ulga.

"Ulga and the reporter silently walked through the darkened cells at Haakimiya, which was surprisingly clean, except for the graffiti on the walls. GOD I ASK YOUR MERCY, scratched one prisoner who'd marked 42 days on the walls. SAVE ME, MARY, implored another, presumably a Christian. IN MEMORY OF LUAY AND ABBAS WHO WERE TORTURED, read another."
-- Newsweek, April 28, 2003

"Kubba's money insulated his family from mayhem, but it did not shield him from witnessing the almost casual slaughter of his people. Last week he recalled a 'scene that haunts me still.' Kubba was driving his Mercedes through Basra's Saad Square when he came upon some 600 men who had been detained while police checked their IDs. According to Kubba, 'Chemical Ali' Hassan al-Majid, Saddam's half brother and the tyrant of southern Iraq, stopped and inquired, 'No IDs? Just shoot them all.' Kubba watched as 'they shot over 600 people in front of me.'"
-- Newsweek, April 28, 2003

"Almost as large as Saddam's palaces are his many prisons, where countless Iraqis were tortured and killed. We take you now inside one of Saddam's most notorious prisons, 18 miles west of Baghdad, and it's hard to imagine a grimmer place. US soldiers are searching what remains of one of the biggest and most elaborate prisons in the world. Saddam Hussein never cut corners when it came to punishment. Abu Ghraib once held tens of thousands of human souls -- criminals, political enemies, and those who just happened to get in the way. A 12-year-old Iranian boy visiting his grandmother near Basra in 1985 was swept up in an Iraqi invasion. He was still here 15 years later.

"[H]e lived with 28 other detainees in a nine-meter-square cell, dividing up 1.5 kilos of rice and porridge a day. 'It was so cramped we couldn't sleep on our backs, we had to sleep on our sides, like spoons. And they brought us polluted water to drink, so we all had diarrhea.' Ulga was released last fall during Saddam's surprise general amnesty. 'Most people don't know that before the amnesty, they executed 450 prisoners so they would never go free,' said Ulga."
-- Newsweek, April 28, 2003

"'The writers who praised Saddam would get treated well. The members of the Baath party were always watching the others. There were always security members at my plays and sometimes they (the plays) were not allowed,' said [Aziz Abdul] Sahib. Sahib said he had been selling his writings at a public market once a week 'just so I could eat.'"
-- Agence France-Presse, April 28, 2003

"The massive prison cast a shadow over the entire neighborhood. Yehiye Ahmed, 17, grew up nearby. The prison guards were his neighbors; the inmates' screams were the soundtrack of his young life. 'I could hear the prisoners crying all the time, especially when someone was killed. I could hear everything from my house or when we played soccer behind the prison,' says Yehiye, a quiet boy, with large, haunted brown eyes and a body that suggests malnourishment.

"Yehiye and his friends would often go inside the Abu Ghraib compound to sell sandwiches and cigarettes to visitors, guards, and sometimes even prisoners. 'I saw three guards beat a man to death with sticks and cables. When they got tired, the guards would switch with other guards,' he recalls. 'I could only watch for a minute without getting caught, but I heard the screams, and it went on for an hour.'"
-- Newsweek, April 28, 2003

"Radi Ismael Mekhedi spent 10 years behind bars. Last week, he wandered through the looted prison and stood behind the red bars of his former cell for the first time in over 10 years. 'I was severely tortured during my imprisonment because I was considered a traitor to my country. I never believed a person could be subjected to such treatment by another human being,' Mekhedi says. 'Life was already painful under Saddam, and if you came to the prison, you were always in fear for your life.'"
-- Newsweek, April 28, 2003

"Poet Imad Kadhum...said he had been terrified that Baath members would inform on him and that several friends were arrested for offending Saddam, who was himself credited with penning several self-aggrandizing novels.

"'All the writers here refused Saddam Hussein and many were in trouble if we did not praise Saddam in our poetry or stories,' he said. 'We never accepted that we were criminals. If our work was disliked by Saddam or (eldest son) Uday, then we would be placed in jail.'

"'A lot of (writers) may have been killed, and to this day we don't know what has happened to them,' Kadhum said."
-- Agence France-Presse, April 28, 2003

"... Anwar Abdul Razak, remembers when a surgeon kissed him on each cheek, said he was sorry and cut his ears off. Razak, then 21 years old, had been swept up during one of Saddam Hussein's periodic crackdowns on deserters from the Army. Razak says he was innocently on leave at the time, but no matter; he had been seized by some Baath Party members who earned bounties for catching Army deserters. At Basra Hospital, Razak's ears were sliced off without painkillers. He said he was thrown into jail with 750 men, all with bloody stumps where their ears had been. 'They called us Abu [Arabic for father] Earless,' recalls Razak, whose fiancee left him because of his disfigurement.

"No one is sure how many men were mutilated during that particular spasm of terror, but from May 17 to 19, 1994, all the available surgeons worked shifts at all of Basra's major hospitals, lopping off ears. (One doctor who refused was shot.) Today, Dr. Jinan al-Sabagh, an administrator at Basra Teaching Hospital, insists that the victims numbered only '70 or 80,' but he'd prefer not to talk about it. He says the ear-chopping stopped before his own surgery rotation came up. 'I want to forget about all this. I vowed I would never do it. I said I am a surgeon, not a butcher....'"
-- Newsweek, April 28, 2003

"The Iraqi Intelligence Service established a unit to assassinate Saddam Hussein's enemies at home and abroad that claimed 66 successful 'operations' between 1998 and 2000, according to documents obtained by The Times.

"Found on the floor of a looted Intelligence Service villa on the east bank of the Tigris River here, the six-page file described the program and contained suggestions for improving its effectiveness - including obtaining poisonous gas disguised as perfume or explosives that would detonate when the car of the target passed by."
-- Los Angeles Times, April 25, 2003

"A slightly broader picture of what happened has emerged from the chief gravedigger, just 21 years old. He is Muhammad Muslim Muhammad and he said he began digging graves here when he was 14 to fulfill his military service.

"He said he received the bodies every Wednesday at about 11 a.m., after the weekly hangings at around 5 a.m. There were never fewer than nine bodies to bury. During one especially bad time in 2001, he said, the numbers rose. One day he buried 18 people. He said he had never told anyone the details of his job. 'I didn't open my mouth, or I would have ended up with these poor people here,' he said."
-- Report on Al Qarah Cemetery, The New York Times, April 25, 2003

"Saboowalla said he was imprisoned because he spoke his mind to fellow travelers fleeing Baghdad after Saddam's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. He said he'd remarked that if talks with the United Nations did not work, force would be used against Saddam. '...someone overheard me. The police came the same day and asked why I spoke against Saddam,' said Saboowalla. 'I told them it was just normal conversation and I didn't mean it.'

"An Iraqi court sentenced him to 20 years for 'insulting' Saddam, who was then Iraq's president. He said the police testified that he had advocated 'shooting and killing Saddam.' The years in jail have made him watch his words. He refused to talk about how he was treated in jail. But his younger brother... said Saboowalla had spoken of being placed in solitary confinement for weeks and 'not seeing the sun' for 27 months."
-. Report on the return to India of Annis Mohammed Saboowalla, who had been imprisoned in Iraq since 1991, Associated Press, April 25, 2003

"Mr. Hani came to a cemetery here today, like dozens of other Iraqis, not with the name of his dead brother but with a number. Satter's number was 535. A cousin, Sagur, arrested at the same time, was 537. These numbers were what was left of people convicted as enemies of Saddam Hussein and then made to disappear. Their graves were not dignified with names but with numbers painted on metal plates. The plates spread like rusty weeds, covering more and more feet of desert every year Mr. Hussein held power.

"But now that he is gone, the families of the disappeared are finding the numbers, matching them to the metal plates and finally collecting their dead. These were people executed - most by hanging in the fearsome Abu Ghraib prison a mile away - merely because the government considered them a threat. Many were Shiite Muslims more active in their religion than the Sunni-dominated government felt it could tolerate."
-- Report on Al Qarah Cemetery in The New York Times, April 25, 2003

"Thousands of people are missing in Iraq, victims of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, but a more visible legacy are the parts that are missing from people who survived. Missing eyes, ears, toenails and tongues mark those who fell into the hands of Mr. Hussein's powerful security services."
-- The New York Times, April 24, 2003

"'The players would start crying,' said Emmanuel Baba, 69, a former player who became a coach renowned throughout the Arab world, where he is known by his nickname, Ammo Baba. 'They would tremble with fear.'"

"'When they got out of prison, they would come to me and lift their shirts to show me the red stripes on their back. They had been beaten with a metal cable. Then the guards threw salt water at them, so the scars would stay for life.'"
-- The Washington Post, April 24, 2003

"'My brother disappeared in 1992,' this woman told us. 'We never heard another thing from him.' He and hundreds of others buried here were Shi'ite Muslims, Saddam's religious enemy. Witnesses say they were dumped in the middle of the night, without the dignity of a coffin, often mixed with the bones of another. Until this week, their whereabouts were unknown. But now, armed with shovels and mysterious scraps of paper, families are finally coming to reclaim their own. These people may have been just nameless, faceless victims to the regime, but if so, the question arises why would the regime have taken so much time to bury each one individually, and then mark each grave with a number? The answer: The regime didn't keep track. The cemetery's caretaker did. There must be thousands of people in this book. Thousands of names. Under penalty of death, this man stole Saddam Hussein's execution list and kept note of the bodies that came his way. 'I suffered so many years,' he said. 'My hair turned white from the pain and guilt.' But now he is free to tell, and when we went to visit him there was a line out the door, all people looking to match a name with his secret numbers. It is an act of courage that may finally bring some peace to families with homecomings so long overdue."
-- CBS Evening News, April 24, 2003

"Farris Salman is one of the last victims of Mr. Hussein's rule. His speech is slurred because he is missing part of his tongue. Black-hooded paramilitary troops, the Fedayeen Saddam, run by Mr. Hussein's eldest son, Uday, pulled it out of his mouth with pliers last month, he said, and sliced it off with a box cutter. They made his family and dozens of his neighbors watch.

"...Salman was blindfolded and bundled into a van. Residents of his neighborhood say the van arrived in the afternoon with an escort of seven trucks carrying more than a hundred black-uniformed fedayeen wearing black masks that only showed their eyes. They rounded up neighbors for what was billed as a rally; Mr. Salman's mother was ordered to bring a picture of Mr. Hussein. Two men held Mr. Salman's arms and head steady, and pointed a gun to his temple. Another man with a video camera recorded the scene. 'I was standing and they told me to stick my tongue out or they would shoot me, and so I did. It was too quick to be painful but there was a lot of blood.' The fedayeen stuffed his mouth with cotton and took him to a local hospital, where he got five stitches, no painkiller and was returned to prison."
-- The New York Times, April 24, 2003

"Doctors gave him an injection and he lost consciousness, he said. When he awoke, the right side of his head was wrapped in bandages. It was Sept. 15, 1994. 'I started crying,' Mr. Ghanem said. 'I felt crippled. I felt oppressed. I hated Saddam with all of my heart, but I didn't know what to do.'

"He was sent to prison where he said he saw hundreds of others missing one ear. Many, like Mr. Ghanem, had inflamed wounds.

"His mother came every Friday, selling off household appliances to buy painkillers and antibiotics for her son. Others were less fortunate. Mr. Ghanem described a medieval scene in which delirious and dying inmates lay on the prison's dirt floor screaming from pain. 'The right side of some of the men's heads were puffed up like red balloons,' he said. Two of his friends died from infections.

"'Saddam, God curse him, treated my son like an animal,' said Mr. Ghanem's weeping mother. 'Only animals have their ears cut off.'"
-- The New York Times, April 24, 2003

"Kadhim Sabbit al-Datajji, 61, a resident of the poor Shiite neighborhood known as Saddam City under Mr. Hussein, said his trouble began when the eldest of his seven sons became old enough to join the Baath Party, but did not. 'Some Baathists in the neighborhood began asking why no one in my family was a party member and saying that with so many children, my family could cause trouble,' he said. 'They asked, "Why don't you or your sons join? We think you are in an opposition party."'

"He now has a walleyed stare to show for eight years in prison. He is quick to pop out his glass eye for a visitor - and to tell of how he lost the real one to torture."
-- The New York Times, April 24, 2003

"'I thought many times of leaving soccer,' said Laith Hussein, captain of the national team and a star in Iraq. 'But how could I? I was afraid of what Uday would do to me and my family. I would sit and cry when I was by myself. I want to play soccer for myself, and for the Iraqi people, not for Uday.'"
-- The Washington Post, April 24, 2003

"Though the tales of punishment were not a closely guarded secret in Iraq, it is only now that many athletes are talking freely about their experiences. A common thread runs through all their narratives. After losing a competition, players and their retinue were taken to the Olympic Committee building, where they were harangued before being transferred to a prison, usually Radwaniya. They often had their heads shaved as a mark of shame and spent the first days in prison without food. Many said they were whipped on their backs, legs and arms by thick metal cables that hung from a wall in the prison and were named after snakes. And if they were offered jobs playing abroad, Uday Hussein demanded a cut of the contract if they wanted exit visas to leave Iraq."
-- The Washington Post, April 24, 2003

"'There was a room painted in red in the Olympic Committee building where athletes were held in isolation for days on end,' said Sabat, who has a passing resemblance to the French football star Zinedine Zidane. 'We were all terrified of this room.' Iraq's state-sponsored sporting violence even extended to journalists who covered competitions and matches. One reporter, who said he preferred not to give his name because he was still afraid of 'Uday's men,' told AFP that such violence was widespread in the dark years of Saddam's 24-year rule. 'I was tortured because I'd criticised the government's sport policies,' he said. 'They took me to one of their special prisons. They blindfolded me and then tortured me with electricity.'"
-- Agence France-Presse, April 23, 2003

"Near Kirkuk, U.S. military forces discovered about 1,500 unmarked graves last week near a military base and industrial park. Officials believe they are the remains of victims of Saddam's repression of ethnic minorities, including Iraqi Kurds. Tens of thousands of Kurdish men disappeared under Saddam and were killed, according to human rights groups."

"Beth Ann Toupin, an Iraq specialist with Amnesty International, said it is still early to know the magnitude of rights abuses under Saddam. 'There's probably much more to be found,' she said, noting that hidden prisons may be discovered. 'And what's new to us is that now people care.'"
-- The Washington Times, April 23, 2003

"In 2000, Mr Abu Sakkar [a clandestine government agent] was caught "under-reporting" activities in the mosques and sent for two months to Tourist Island on the Tigris river, south of Baghdad, to receive a crude brand of re-education.

"'Three of my fellow Shias were shot in front of me,' he said. When he returned to his work with the police campaign to put down Shia opponents and rebels, he witnessed more savagery. 'One day I walked into the station and the room of the interrogation office was wide open. I saw Captain Abbass, one of our men, beating a man on the floor. I recognised him as a Shia religious student. He beat the man in the head and I noticed and pointed out to the captain that the student was already dead. He just said that he wanted to punish him more and that his hand was the "hand of god".'"
-- The Daily Telegraph (London), April 23, 2003

"When Shias, both leaders and young religious students, were taken into custody, they were often transferred to special torture cells.... 'The method of the investigations was usually to hang someone upside down and beat them, hammering hard on their bones,' Mr Abu Sakkar said, pointing to a hook on the ceiling. Some people would be left here for days upside down and would just die of fatigue and thirst.'"
-- The Daily Telegraph (London), April 23, 2003

"The friendly between Iraq and Kazakhstan ended in a 2-1 defeat for the home team. The Iraqi footballers had flunked a crucial penalty, and they dreaded what Uday Saddam Hussein had in store for them after the final whistle.

"Ahmed Sabat, considered one of the most talented Iraqi soccer players of his generation, told the story of that fateful day six years ago.... 'It was a friendly but we'd lost, and we knew what would happen once the spectators left,' said the 27-year-old...."

'The players and the coach were made to lie down on the pitch,' he explained, 'and Uday's men came and beat us with sticks on our feet and on our backs and punched us to punish us.' 'We suffered in silence. The psychological pressure on the players was enormous, especially when it came to penalties.'"
-- Agence France-Presse, April 23, 2003

"'We found one of our friends and we are trying to find the others. People told us that they were killed here,' said Ali Khaled Shefeq, 40, a chemical engineer, digging at the grave with a spade. He said relatives suspect the men were killed around April 2 . less than a week before Baghdad fell....

'We all feel very sad,' Shefeq said. 'They are brothers. What can we say? God bless them. Until now, we didn't believe Saddam Hussein is gone, that it's over. We pray he will never come back again.'

"Others searching for bodies said they were looking for the remains of eight men who were seized at a mosque a month ago by a paramilitary group loyal to Hussein. A cry went up from the crowd as one of the decomposed bodies was unearthed. 'It's Abdul Rahman, it's Abdul Rahman,' people in the crowd shouted.
-- Newsday, April 23, 2003

"'This is my brother,' declared Munther Taffuk after examining the freshly exhumed corpse, relieved to a point that he had found his missing sibling after a two-year search. Munther then moved in for a closer look. 'My God,' he screamed. 'They took out his eyes.' He then pulled two matted pieces of cotton wool from the eye sockets of his little brother's skull and wept.

"His sister, Manal, cried openly as she said her younger brother, Muthfer, simply vanished without trace two years ago. 'My God, look what they did. This is my brother, he did nothing wrong.'"
-- Times of Oman, April 22, 2003

"General Jawdat al-Obeidi, the proclaimed deputy head of the Baghdad provisional government, said that about 150 political prisoners were found by US troops in a secret prison in Salman Pak, 35 kilometres south of Baghdad, and another 200 were rescued at a spot he refused to name. In Kadhimiya, a primarily Shiite neighbourhood in Baghdad, 25 people were discovered in an underground prison, he said.

"'Before Baghdad fell, the guards let water flow into the cells to kill the prisoners before they themselves fled. But the prisoners were smart and built ramps to climb on top of. That's why they didn't drown.'"
-- Sydney Morning Herald, April 22, 2003

"I have spoken to a prison officer who worked there. He had no idea how many people were killed in that prison but he said it must have been thousands. In one corner of that prison outside the walls of an inner secure area we found relatives grieving over an open grave where they had found a number of bodies. Bodies who have had their hands tied behind their backs - they had been shot in the head.

"It is our understanding that these people had been rounded up for the simple crime of having a satellite mobile telephone. As such they were suspected of being American spies. They were shot in the dying days of the regime even though those who shot them must have known that the end was up."
-- Tim Rogers, ITV News (UK), reporting from Baghdad on bodies found in a prison run by the Iraqi Ministry of Social Affairs, April 22, 2003

"'I went to kill one person, but suddenly I saw he had guards with him, so I killed four or five of his guards,' Ali recalled. 'After that, we cut off his head and we put it in a bag and we brought it to Baghdad from Karbala at 4 a.m. We put it in front of Uday's office. He asked us to bring his head.'"
-- The Washington Post, April 22, 2003

"'As I began to cut Uday's hair, this man [Uday's press secretary] was praying as they [Uday's bodyguards] extracted his teeth with pliers. But my hands didn't shake. I was always very careful. I knew a small mistake would be the end of me.'"
-- Marwan Ali, Uday Hussein's barber, Daily Mail (London), April 22, 2003

"Ali belonged to Saddam's Fedayeen, a security force led by Hussein's elder son, Uday. For the better part of a decade, he recalled, he assassinated opposition figures, broke the backs of those accused of lying to the government and chopped off tongues, fingers, hands and once even a head.

"'It didn't matter if we felt he was guilty or not guilty. We had to do it,' he explained. 'These people were against Saddam Hussein. If we got orders to punish him, we would go and do it. If Uday said to cut off his tongue, we would do it. Or his hands or fingers or his head. Anything. We would do it.'"

"'I just followed orders,'" he said.
-- The Washington Post, April 22, 2003

"Well, in the beginning, this place looks just like an anonymous office building. And that made it all the more filled with terror, because slowly, prisoners would come up, tell you that they had been held here, that they had been tortured. You look at the walls, and see graffiti written by the prisoners here. And it's heartbreaking, really. Allah, help me. Or, you know, today I'm alive, but tomorrow I'll be underground. You see Iraqi families wandering around trying to find news of relatives, and finding nothing. I was about to leave when a group of agitated Iraqis came up and said, come with me. I have something to show you. It's an execution ground. There are still some bodies there. So I said, ok. Let's go take a look. And indeed, we drove to a very remote part of the prison. It was like a makeshift execution ground. You know, somebody had just hurriedly set some guys up there and shot them. They had been half-buried in the ground."
-- Newsweek reporter Melinda Liu interviewed on NBC Nightly News, April 22, 2003

"Jamal al-Attar was 26 years old when the Iraqi Mukhabarat snatched him off the street for questioning. He was accused of being a resistance fighter opposed to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. Then he was loaded onto a truck with scores of other Kuwaitis. That was the last anyone here [Kuwait] saw of him. Today, Mr. Attar would be 38 years old and would have spent one-third of his life in an Iraqi prison. "I must say that I hope that he is still alive. I hope that all of them are still alive,' says Abdul Hamid al-Attar, Jamal's father. 'But I have to be frank with myself. I am not that much optimistic.'"

"Most difficult, say family members, is not knowing whether their loved ones are alive. ... If Hussein did this to his own people, the Kuwaitis received worse, family members say.

'We wish that all of them are alive and all of them will be returned soon to Kuwait . but if not, [their families] should know the truth,' says Ali Murad of the National Committee for the Missing and POWs.

"Attar agrees: 'Five or six years ago, we used to insist they are alive and that the Iraqis must bring them back to Kuwait alive. Now we have changed. We say we must know if they are dead or alive . but we can't accept that they are missing.'"
-- The Christian Science Monitor, April 22, 2003

"The Baath regime has gone and now we can talk freely with you. They [the corpses] are all political. Ten to 15 bodies would arrive at a time from the Abu Ghraib prison and we would bury them here. The last corpse interred was number 993."
-- Mohymeed Aswad, manager of Baghdad cemetery, Agence France-Presse, April 21, 2003

"The civilians were hanged. Sometimes a soldier would come through and they were all shot. I could distinguish them by their uniforms. This grave belongs to a woman. She was hanged. There are another five cemeteries in Baghdad with secret gravesites so in this city alone there are about 6,000 (political) corpses."
-- Gravedigger at a Baghdad cemetery, Agence France-Presse, April 21, 2003

"Rousted from their beds, pulled off the street, yanked from their classrooms and their jobs, essentially abducted by the president's security goons and on the most feeble of pretexts, never again seen by their families and friends. Mourned furtively down through the years by parents and siblings, spouses and children.

"They are the missing, probably long dead and thus mercifully released from their misery. But hope lives on, however atrophied and threadbare. It is this hopeful longing for miracles that brings Iraqis, in their pleading numbers, to every portal, hatchway and unsealed vent hole, in search of loved ones. 'My brother,' says one. 'My son,' implores another."
-- Toronto Star, April 21, 2003

"There is nothing in this tunnel, save for rats and sodden fruit crates. But across town, at another portal to the subterranean maze, a morsel of information has floated to the surface. It's a piece of paper, part of a security file. It reads: 'Ali Shankat. Executed criminal. Accused of writing about Saddam Hussein.'"
-- Report on Iraqi Prisons in the Toronto Star, April 21, 2003

"Upstairs, accessible by a back stairway only, are about 100 individual cells, dark and windowless, stinking of urine. In one sits a plate of half-eaten food, biscuits and rice, still resting on a green plastic tray. At the end of a hallway lies a pile of bindings and blindfolds.

"An elevator, the only one in the place, leads to the basement and more cells. There are shackles in one room, long cables in another. On another floor there is a small operating room, where some former prisoners said doctors harvested the organs of those who did not survive.

"Finally, out back, stand three portable morgues, metal buildings the size of tool sheds, with freezer units attached. Inside one are six aluminum trays, each the length of a body."
-- The New York Times, April 21, 2003

"'I am one of millions who have been tortured,' said 33-year-old Ali Khadem Al Essery, whose knuckles were smashed with a club while he was being interrogated in 1994. Everyone here knows someone who was tortured, and many victims see a bleak future without a measure of justice exacted on the torturers."
-- Newsday, April 21, 2003

"Iraq became one of the few nations that legally sanctioned the use of torture in pre-trial investigations, and as a punitive measure. The death sentence was prescribed for a large variety of offenses including usurpation of public money, corruption, insulting the presidency, and treason -- loosely defined. Law became whimsical and contingent on the will of the party and president. Even foreign investments were dependent on the good will of the ruling elite, often tapping into a network of businessmen sanctioned and protected by a Saddam family clique."
-- Khaled Abou El Fadl, op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2003

"The picture that emerged of the intelligence service here was of a kind of sadistic shakedown operation, where agents took prisoners to satisfy their masters but extracted money to satisfy themselves.

"Other men returning here said the interrogators had gone even further, demanding sex with female relatives when no money could be paid. In most cases, the prisoners said, bribes were paid, women were offered, but the prisoner remained in jail.

"'My family paid them everything we had, $25,000, and still they did not release me,' Mr. Masawi said."
-- The New York Times, April 21, 2003

"Tens of thousands of security files on Iraqis have been found in a huge underground vault beneath the headquarters of Saddam Hussein's most feared secret police agency, the legacy of a Soviet-style domestic spying system that controlled everything from job assignments to whether a person would live or die.

"The files include the mundane -- a man denied the right to leave the country because he refused a job transfer -- and the chilling -- a 19-year-old high school student hanged because he admitted he was the leader of a cell of a banned political party.

"'By God, this is everyone in Iraq,' translator George Yousef muttered as he entered the records vault, about twice the size of a basketball court, discovered two days ago by U.S. marines and visited by a journalist Sunday."
-- Knight-Ridder Newspapers, April 21, 2003

"Maithan Al Naji had a visit from a United Nations relief team. Anwar Abdul Al Razaq got sick. Zuhair H. Jawa Kubba had American dollars in his pocket. Jawad Abdul Al Naby smuggled some sheep. Because these things happened, these men were beaten with steel rods, had electrodes placed on their genitals, were hung from their arms until their shoulders were dislocated, were suspended by their ankles over the stone floor of a cell while their torturers whipped them with electric cables and pulverized their knuckles with wooden clubs."
-- Newsday, April 21, 2003

"Dr. Jinan Al Sabagh, a surgeon at Basra's Teaching Hospital, remembers the day in 1994 when the Baath Party came to the hospital with groups of men who were said to be deserters. The doctors were told to slice off the men's ears.

"'It was definitely obligatory,' said Al Sabagh, a gentle man in his 60s who seemed close to tears as he struggled to describe what happened those three days. 'If you didn't, you would have the same thing done to you.

"'They made four groups of doctors, one for each day,' Al Sabagh explained. "I was in the fourth group. One doctor here refused and they said if you didn't do it we will do the same to you. He did it.'"
-- Newsday, April 21, 2003

"The relatives push forward, waving their faded pictures, in much the same way that desperate kinfolk had wandered around the ruins of the World Trade Center towers after 9/11, seeking information about their missing. Haid Ahmed holds up a photograph of his brother, Moayed, an agriculture student who disappeared in June, 1981. 'We haven't been able to search for him until now. We were too scared even to try.' Too scared, in the Saddam days, to even inquire about Moayed's fate.

"'My brother could be anywhere. This is just a possibility. But any place I hear there is a prison, I go there. I have been to four prisons already. I am going to keep looking because my father and mother have asked me to. We have talked about him every day since he was taken. His life inside prison is now longer than his life outside. In my heart, I think he is alive, but only God knows.'"
-- Toronto Star, April 21, 2003

"'I am still afraid,' he murmured. 'Saddam is alive and so are all those closest to him. We don't know if one day the regime will come back. Those who did this to me are still around, We just don't know their faces. They just took off their uniforms and went home. They are still out there and we are still afraid.'"
-- Mutilation victim quoted in The Sunday Times (London), April 20, 2003

"After he arrived in Baghdad, he was placed in a darkened room with only a small red light, no bed. Guards would splash buckets of water through a small gap in the bottom of the door to put an inch or two of water on the floor so that he could not sleep. They gave him tea and a piece of bread for breakfast. Rice and a piece of bread for lunch. He went to the bathroom in his room, on the floor."
-- The Baltimore Sun, April 20, 2003

"In a pile in one of the rooms used for torture were textbooks for children: a science book for third-graders, an agriculture book for sixth-graders. Whole families, including infants and toddlers, were held in this prison. This was a form of mercy, this keeping the families together."
-- The Baltimore Sun, April 20, 2003

"In the night, they took me again to the room, and they made my body wet with water. I was naked," he recalls, and now is when he searches with his eyes for that spot. To cushion his words: They used clamps to connect electrical wire to his genitals and then they sent a current running through him.

"'My whole body shook,' he says. 'I was shouting to them, "I will sign anything! Just stop this!" I was shaking, shaking. I shook until I passed out.'

'The guards shocked him in the same way every night for two weeks. When they feared he would die, they gave him a week off. Then back to the shocking. Always they beat him, sometimes on his back, sometimes on his legs and arms, often on the soles of his feet until they bled. The pattern continued for six months."
-- The Baltimore Sun, April 20, 2003

"He described how, clad in black garb that covered all but his eyes, he had often meted out sentences in the street, in front of a victim's family and horrified onlookers. Guarded by armed colleagues, he used to tie up and blindfold the accused. One of his men held the detainee's head in a firm grip. Another forced open the mouth.

"Ali would then draw out a pair of pliers and a sharp knife. Gripping the tongue with pliers, he would slice it up with the knife, tossing severed pieces into the street. "'Those punished were too terrified to move, even though they knew I was about to chop off their tongue,' said Ali in his matter-of-fact voice. 'They would just stand there, often praying and calling out for Saddam and Allah to spare them. By then it was too late.

"'I would read them out the verdict and cut off their tongue without any form of anaesthetic. There was always a lot of blood. Some offenders passed out. Others screamed in pain. They would then be given basic medical assistance in an ambulance which would always come with us on such punishment runs. Then they would be thrown in jail.'"
-- Fedayeen Saddam member interviewed in The Sunday Times (London), April 20, 2003

"Ferass Adnan is a 23-year-old trader who speaks with difficulty these days now that part of his tongue is missing. Some months ago he got into a fight in a market in northern Baghdad and was overheard insulting Saddam as the 'son of a dog'. A policeman tried to arrest him, but Adnan fled.

"Within hours, Iraqi secret police agents arrived at Adnan's home and, failing to find him, took away his uncle, brother, and two cousins. They were thrown in jail and tortured with electric shocks.

"It was only a matter of days before the regime's ubiquitous security spies caught up with Adnan in the suburbs of Baghdad. He was jailed and then, on March 5, turned over to the specialists of Ali's punishment squad. Adnan was taken back to his father's home in north Baghdad, where his entire family was ordered to gather outside the local coffee house.

"'His hands were tied and his eyes blindfolded,' the young man's father, Adnan Duleimi, recalled last week. 'I had not seen my son since they had arrested him. I tried to pay for his release. I lost all my savings, handing everything I had to corrupt security officers who promised to help but only took my money. There was nothing I could do. I had to watch in silence as they took a knife to my son's tongue. Had I said a word we would all have been killed.'"
-- The Sunday Times (London), April 20, 2003

"One of Ali's fellow fedayeen lost his tongue simply for repeating how he had heard of a man who had accused Uday of bringing shame on the Iraqi people for dressing in multi-coloured shirts . which, according to the critic, made him look like a woman.

"'There was no mild form of criticism when it came to Saddam, Uday or the regime,' said Ali. 'Any critical comment, even to say that the president looked tired in a speech, was enough to risk having one's tongue cut off by us.'"
-- Interview with a member of the Fedayeen Saddam in The Sunday Times (London), April 20, 2003

"Former prisoners of ousted president Saddam Hussein's government are everywhere in Basra, standing on street corners waiting for water, rummaging through papers in the headquarters of the once feared secret police, sitting quietly at home on a hot afternoon. These are the tortures they describe, and more: a prisoner forced to sit on a heated metal stove, electric shocks applied to genitals, a small blade used to slash a prisoner's back. Even doctors became torturers; they cut off army deserters' ears. Servants of the system fell victim to it, too: police officers and prison guards arrested, tortured, then sent back to work. Torture was considered so routine that many former prisoners shrugged at first when asked about it. 'Of course, they tortured me. Beating people here is something regular,' said Maithem Naji."
-- The Washington Post, April 19, 2003

"Anwar Abdul Qadir was there, too, looking. He has been missing his brother since 1991 as well, when the 17-year-old was taken from their home at 4 a.m. His uncle is also missing, and his cousin was executed in 1996. Altogether, he has six relatives who were arrested and whose whereabouts are unknown. 'I'm very lucky they just took five or six relatives,' he said, nodding in the direction of Abdul Wahab. 'Some people had five or six brothers taken.'"
-- The Washington Post, April 19, 2003

"I saw thousands killed and buried in mass graves. Some were lined up and machine- gunned before being covered with sand. Others were just buried alive. Saddam had a programme of telling villagers (Kurds) they were being relocated south. We would take trucks that would normally hold 12 to 15 people and put in 200 with no water or ventilation. Many would die on the way. Survivors were driven to Al Anbar or Tharthar and buried alive in vast holes dug in the ground. I saw thousands of people . men, women and children . die this way."
-- Defecting colonel in Iraqi internal security service, Evening Standard (London), April 17, 2003

"'Adnan Agari, who never returned, was taken away with his brother Ghassan and his cousin Khatar. They were taken to Baghdad and tortured with electrified wire, Ghassan said. 'The screaming terrified me,' he recalled of the dark, poorly ventilated torture chamber. 'I was a boy then, 15. I have never heard anything like that before or since.'"
-- The New York Times, April 17, 2003

"There in the corridor were the punishment units where men were stuffed into windowless cinder block cells, one metre by 50cm. On the left was the yellow holding pen where prisoners fought to sleep next to the open pits that served as latrines, suffering the stench for a few inches more space."
-- The Guardian (London), April 17, 2003

"At least three massacres on Saddam City's streets have occurred in the last 10 years, including 700 people gunned down during a 1998 Shiite demonstration, said Muhammad Qadim Saadoun, a former air force helicopter pilot whose 40-day political imprisonment ended last week with the U.S. entry into Baghdad.

"He said he was imprisoned repeatedly for refusing to fire on his fellow Shiites, who form the majority of the population but had long been subservient to Mr. Hussein's Sunni-dominated secular government.

"'You cannot imagine the horrible things they did to us,' Mr. Saadoun said. He was tortured while hanging upside down by his feet and pistol-whipped so hard he has lost some of his memory."
-- The Dallas Morning News, April 17, 2003

"Another former prisoner from Saddam City, Hussein Ali, said he was arrested for participating in the 1998 protest and imprisoned until late last year. During torture sessions, his fingernails were yanked off his fingers. He described his cell as 'a big hole with lots of insects and worms.'"
-- The Dallas Morning News, April 17, 2003

"For days now, scores of desperate Iraqis have turned up outside the state security complex here, searching for their missing loved ones, begging the American troops who guard its gates to help them find the relatives whom they believe to be trapped in a prison beneath the sprawling grounds.

"With the fall of Saddam Hussein's government, 30 years of buried history is slowly being resurrected. The Iraqis who appear each morning calling out names and dates of arrest are hoping that their missing brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles will be resurrected along with the past.

"They hold up one finger, two fingers, four fingers, trying to explain to the Americans how many relatives are supposedly in the jail. They throng the gates from dawn to dusk, holding up photos of their vanished loved ones and holding desperately onto hope."
-- The New York Times, April 17, 2003

"One of the disappeared is the son of an old man named Kadem Agari Albadri. He lives in a walled-compound on Maarifa Street . the street of knowledge . landscaped with fuchsia trees and palms. His name appears in the book as a local teacher. His son Adnan is there, also: No. 32, arrested March 3, 1991. Suspect. Whereabouts unknown.

"... Much of his family and friends gathered today to hear him speak. They all brought faded pictures or names scribbled on scrap paper of sons and brothers who have disappeared. They need look no further than the book.

"'Before anything, I want to tell the people of America and Britain something,' Mr. Albadri said. 'There is nothing, nothing more terrible for a father and mother than to have their child taken from them. Not to know. Never to see his body. You cannot imagine. This is how we lived.'"
-- The New York Times, April 17, 2003

"I was sitting outside my father's house in a village near Tikrit on Friday when two carloads of fedayeen stopped. They got out and began to beat me and accuse me of being a saboteur. Then they shot me in the leg. They took me to the police station and kept me for three nights, saying they would kill me. Then yesterday they just disappeared. And at 7am this morning (Monday) an American Marine came and let me out of my cell. I feel very lucky."
-- Khalid Jauhr, an Iraqi Kurd, in the Daily Mail (London), April 15, 2003

"When they came closer, I could see in the bus men, women and children with blindfolds over their eyes. I was very afraid and hid in a hole. It was mostly men. There were about eight children and ten women. They (Ba'ath Party forces) took them off the bus and led them over to the hole in groups. They sat or knelt and then they began to shoot them from very close, many shots. Some were just pushed in and then covered up with earth. There was no escape, it was done very quickly.

"I could not tell this secret because I knew it was dangerous knowledge that I should not hold, dangerous knowledge. But if the British Army want me to show them I will dig up the bodies myself, because I know they are there. I can never forget."
-- Satar Al Khalid, a Bedouin, recalls an incident he saw near Ramallah, Iraq, in 1998, Daily Mail (London), April 14, 2003

"'Me.' 'Me.' 'Me,' they murmured in response to the question: Whose father, brother, son had been executed by Saddam Hussein's government. Eleven hands in all, raised in the stagnant air inside the low mud-brick house of Sheik Kathem Al Wafi, signalling the death toll here.

"These men and their sheik, the elders of the Al Wafi tribe, are people of the Madan, the marsh Arabs who for five millennia lived in a vast area of wetlands that began about 50 miles north of Basra . lived, that is, until 1988, when Hussein's government began a systematic campaign of oppression, execution and internal exile against them."
-- Newsday, April 14, 2003

"The few Iraqi men of Pumping Station No. 1 tried to protect it as if it were their own. In the end, they lost tools, spare parts and important records to gangs ransacking the oil complex. But they saved the new red fire engine; a quick-thinking operations manager drove it home.

"Over the weekend, the men sat silently, their faces clouded with doubt and fear, as an American oil engineer tried to convince them the station - and the oil flowing through it - really do belong to them and the Iraqi people.

"Under Saddam's regime, the workers said, the station was a place where they had to be careful in their work and careful what they said. On the payroll as a mechanic was a Baath Party official whose real job was to ensure loyalty to the Iraqi dictator.

"Any workers who complained 'would disappear in the night,' said Muslim Yehia, a technician. 'We don't know if they were killed or tortured or ran away.'"
-- USA Today, April 14, 2003

"'Prisoners were taken to watch executions; anyone who cried was executed, too. Our hands were tied like this. First the left hand and then the foot. Then a black hood on my head, then they applied electricity."

"They had a game: They made people drink gasoline, then put them out in open ground and fire guns at them."
-- Abdallah Ahmed, survivor of Abu GhraibPrison, on CBS Evening News, April 14, 2003

"'I was beaten, refrigerated naked and put underground for one year because I was a Shiite and Saddam is a Sunni,' said Ali Kaddam Kardom, 37. He said he was arrested in the central city of Karbala on March 10, 2000. He returned to the facility in Baghdad this weekend, he said, to help rescue any Iraqis who still might be imprisoned there."
-- USA Today, April 14, 2003

"An Iraqi soldier, who according to the facility's records witnessed the beatings, said interrogators regularly used pliers to remove men's teeth, electric prods to shock men's genitals and drills to cut holes in their ankles.

"In one instance, the soldier recalled, he witnessed a Kuwaiti soldier, who had been captured during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, being forced to sit on a broken Pepsi bottle. The man was removed from the bottle only after it filled up with his blood, the soldier said. He said the man later died.

"'I have seen interrogators break the heads of men with baseball bats, pour salt into wounds and rape wives in front of their husbands,' said former Iraqi soldier Ali Iyad Kareen, 41. He then revealed dozens of Polaroid pictures of beaten and dead Iraqis from the directorate's files."
-- USA Today, April 14, 2003

"Saturday, former prisoners and Iraqi soldiers said they heard screams of 'help' from men who were still there. Several soldiers who tried to enter the underground prison through a manhole said they found the area flooded and doors locked. Kanan Alwan, 41, who worked in the facility's administrative office, said the intelligence officers of the facility programmed the prison's computers, which control the water flow, so that the water level would exceed the height of the prison doors.

"'They are drowning in there, and there's nothing we can do for them,' Alwan said. 'The real criminals fled. But the innocents who probably did nothing wrong have been condemned to death.'"
-- USA Today, April 14, 2003

"'They took my brother in 1998,' said Sabah Al Wafi, 24, a relative of the sheik, 'and they executed him. I was arrested later. I had a letter from a Kuwaiti prisoner of war'.one of 605 Kuwaitis still recorded as missing from the 1991 Gulf War . 'and they found it when they searched my house. They tortured me with electricity. They made me sit on hot metal plates. They used to drink and laugh as they tortured me.'"
-- Newsday, April 14, 2003

"The ordeal of one...victim of the secret police, a woman identified only as Laila, is recounted in A Book of Cruelty . An Attempt to Spoil What Has Remained of Your Lives, by Amer Badr Hassoun. According to Hassoun's account, the woman, a young law professor, was taken into custody for refusing to join the Baath Party. She was transferred from a Baghdad prison to a series of prisons in the north before ending up at the Baghdad security directorate. One of her torturers there was a former student who kicked her and administered electric shocks before killing a 13-year-old boy who was also a prisoner. During one torture session, she passed out and was taken to the adjoining Security Hospital and subsequently to the nearby al-Kindi Hospital. She was threatened with execution if she spoke of her torture to doctors or nurses. When a doctor asked her if she had been tortured, she responded with silence.

"She was later tried by a judge named Awwad al-Bandar on the charge of not joining the Baath Party. After being refused permission to represent herself, she was convicted and given a life sentence. She was ultimately released during one of Hussein's amnesty declarations and later told her story to Hassoun. Her current whereabouts are unclear."
-- Knight-Ridder Newspapers, April 14, 2003

"Some former inmates say that in the 1990s, the prison became so crowded, Saddam's son, Uday, ordered hundreds executed to make room for more."
-- Dan Rather, CBS Evening News, April 14, 2003

"Sheikh Lami Abbas Ajali looked around at the small cell where he spent several bleak weeks of his life and recounted the torture: How he was hit, prodded, had his eyelids pulled back, electric shocks applied to his temples and genitals, how he was handcuffed with tight manacles and then lifted into the air from behind.

"He recalled Saturday how torturers stuffed 10 suspects into an eight-foot by six-foot room so only two could sleep at any given time while the other eight were forced to stand. And how he was kept blindfolded, never quite sure where he was, where they were taking him, what would hit him next."
-- Gulf News on line (UAE), April 14, 2003

"Hassan Ali Rasan has clawed for days in the rubble of the Detention and Security Center, searching for a piece of hope. Amid twisted wire, bricks and unexploded rocket-propelled grenades, Rasan hunts for traces of his cousin Kasem, missing for 12 years since Saddam Hussein's agents paid him a visit when he was a student.

"'He's an only child. His mother cries every time she thinks of him,' explained Rasan, 25, a muscular ex-soldier who on Sunday patiently picked through documents and files that litter the crumbled torture chamber, blitzed by U.S. warplanes two weeks ago.
-- Knight-Ridder Newspapers, April 14, 2003

"They wandered the abandoned corridors of one of the most frightening buildings in the Middle East searching for their brothers, desperately trying to ignore the logic that told them there was little hope of finding them alive. Other searchers were lifting trapdoors and banging pipes and marble tiles trying to find the underground cells reputed to hold hundreds of political prisoners under the ominous headquarters building..."
-- The Australian, April 13, 2003

"The male warders made her wear pants, an offense to Shiites' strict female dress codes; without a belt they often fell down. The low point of every day was the daily torture session; the high point, gruel in a bowl, the prisoners' only meal. Even that was denied her if "I made some mistake." Hashmia's jailers scored her back with a hot poker, beat the soles of her feet with sticks, made her pull up her baggy pants and whipped her legs. The sexual humiliation may have been even worse than the pain, but that was serious. 'They slapped me so hard that my neck hurts from it even now.' The torturers wanted her to confess to plotting against the Baathist regime, but she knew that would mean a death sentence."
-- Newsweek on line, April 12, 2003

"U.S. soldiers with tanks and armoured vehicles took over the sprawling compound of Baghdad's military intelligence headquarters on Friday after local people thronged the compound searching for missing relatives.

"Reuters correspondent Khaled Yacoub Oweis said he heard one explosion. It was not clear what caused it. Earlier, Iraqi civilians had been digging feverishly, saying they believed relatives were trapped in underground dungeons used by Saddam Hussein's feared security apparatus."
-- Reuters, April 11, 2003

"Coalition forces have discovered an abandoned military prison here, where discarded gas masks and used atropine injectors suggest the recent presence of chemical weapons and human testing. ... There was no sign of what happened to the inmates and no indication of what their crimes were. But the punishment seems to have been severe. ... There is also evidence of crude torture. Electric cords snake through a tiny window in one cell, the frayed ends dangling from an anchor in the ceiling. Similar sets of wires trail into other concrete rooms. ... 'I'd hate to think of what those clamped onto,' said one U.S. soldier, who speculated the far end would be attached to a generator. 'It's just evil in here.' ... At least a half-dozen gas masks were scattered near the prison's entrance and inside one of the wire-enclosed walkways of the white cinder-block prison. There were also several spent auto-injectors of atropine, a powerful drug that is administered as an antidote to nerve gas."
.- The Washington Times, April 11, 2003

"The Baath Party completely dominated life in Iraq. Until this week, every neighborhood had a Baath official who kept tabs on the area, ran a network of informants and recruited members into the party, say Iraqis. It wasn't difficult to figure out who they were: They had the best cars and the nicest houses and they had money to throw around."

"It didn't take much to run afoul of the party. A wrong word or chance comment within earshot of an informant often was enough to earn an interrogation or worse, according to residents of southern Iraq. There was little accountability, charges were difficult to counter and informants were eager to turn in 'troublemakers' to prove their own value."

"Ordinary people living in this kind of pressure cooker, where any misstep could be fatal, generally avoided sharing their true feelings with anyone but their closest friends and relatives. Making sure children didn't say an errant word before they understood the implications was also an essential survival tactic. 'You only talked when you were sitting with your very, very closest friends,' said Raheem Khagany, 24, an assistant engineering professor. 'If a Baath member heard you, you could be executed.'"
-- Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2003

"...[S]ecret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails). One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss."
-- Eason Jordan, CNN chief news executive, in The New York Times, April 11, 2003

"U.S. soldiers with tanks and armoured vehicles took over the sprawling compound of Baghdad's military intelligence headquarters on Friday after local people thronged the compound searching for missing relatives.

"Reuters correspondent Khaled Yacoub Oweis said he heard one explosion. It was not clear what caused it. Earlier, Iraqi civilians had been digging feverishly, saying they believed relatives were trapped in underground dungeons used by Saddam Hussein's feared security apparatus."
-- Reuters, April 11, 2003

"The Baath Party completely dominated life in Iraq. Until this week, every neighborhood had a Baath official who kept tabs on the area, ran a network of informants and recruited members into the party, say Iraqis. It wasn't difficult to figure out who they were: They had the best cars and the nicest houses and they had money to throw around. ... It didn't take much to run afoul of the party. A wrong word or chance comment within earshot of an informant often was enough to earn an interrogation or worse, according to residents of southern Iraq. There was little accountability, charges were difficult to counter and informants were eager to turn in 'troublemakers' to prove their own value. ... Ordinary people living in this kind of pressure cooker, where any misstep could be fatal, generally avoided sharing their true feelings with anyone but their closest friends and relatives. Making sure children didn't say an errant word before they understood the implications was also an essential survival tactic. 'You only talked when you were sitting with your very, very closest friends,' said Raheem Khagany, 24, an assistant engineering professor. 'If a Baath member heard you, you could be executed.'"
-- Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2003

"Naji Abbas headed out for a couple of hours one day in 1985 to buy some medicine and never returned. Thirteen months later, family members say, the police told them they could pick up his body at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Abbas, who, according to relatives, was guilty of nothing more than being a Shiite Muslim in Sunni-ruled Iraq, had been tortured, an eye poked out, an arm broken and his chest burned with electrical wires. The regime of Saddam Hussein then delivered the clincher: Family members were asked to pay 30 dinars, a month's wages, for the bullets that killed him."
-- Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2003

" the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk."
-- Eason Jordan, CNN chief news executive, in The New York Times, April 11, 2003

"Two men yesterday gave eyewitness accounts of the execution last Saturday of a commander of the Iraqi 29th brigade after he recommended retreating from Sheykhan, a frontline town that fell to US and Kurdish forces at the weekend.

"'He was made to stand in a ditch for half an hour or so and then he was shot,' said Salah Mehdi Taleb. 'The man who shot him was Mahmoud Taher, who also gave us political education.'"
-- The Financial Times (London), April 10, 2003

"In another neighborhood, a group of some 100 children, clothed mostly in rags and newly released from one of the regime's prisons, hugged and kissed the Marines who had freed them."
-- The Washington Post, April 10, 2003

"'I am from the city of Kirkuk and for the last ten years I have been unable to return to my home there because of Saddam. Seven of my relatives were executed there by his security police when this war started. But God willing and with the help of Britain and the United States I can go back home now and live in peace.'"
-- Prshing Mohamed, Iraqi Kurd in Northern Iraq, in the Daily Mail (London), April 10, 2003

"One middle-aged man held up a huge portrait of Saddam and used his shoe to beat the face of the Iraqi leader, a particular insult. 'This man has killed 2 million of us,' he yelled as bystanders milled around approvingly.

"The looters roamed unhindered through police stations, government ministries and other buildings. A favorite spot was the Al-Sinaa sports complex that held thousands of new athletic shoes and was alleged to be the site of an Iraqi torture chamber."
-- Orlando Sentinel, April 10, 2003

"For five years Hashim, a teacher of English at a local secondary school, was held in an Iraqi prison and tortured. His scarred arms bore witness to how, he said, he was strung from the ceiling and beaten by members of the Iraqi secret services.

"'I had refused to join the party. They hit me a great deal and I was made to eat my meals like a dog with my hands tied behind my back. But I knew I could never join the Baath Party. How could I and keep my conscience clean?' he said.

"'If you want to stay out of trouble you have to join, and then you could be promoted in the party from the street level to representing the city. But then take part in beatings and the burning of property of the people they don't like. I was one of the people they didn't like.'"
-- The Irish Times, April 8, 2003

"Perhaps saddest were two rooms, each hardly bigger than a normal bedroom, reserved for children; they had been crammed with scores of kids from 12 to 16 years old, say the former inmates. Ali Nasr, 13 at the time, was caught up in a sweep when Shiites throughout Iraq rioted after the murder of their Grand Ayatollah, Mohammed Sadiq al-Sader (also called Sader II) in Najaf. ... Ali spent six months in the juvenile wing of Unit Four, sleeping on his feet when the cell was too crowded to lie down, or taking turns on the floor with other prisoners. The boy was still too scared to talk about it, even now."
-- Newsweek on line, April 8, 2003

"Former United Nations worker Vanessa Lough said children as young as four have been taken from their parents during the night over the past fortnight and murdered after extremists targeted families thought to have been helping the Coalition forces.

"'Some children were hanged as their helpless parents were forced to watch,' said Ms Lough, 37. She heard of the atrocities during a water drop on the outskirts of Basra, Iraq's second largest city and a Ba'ath party stronghold. 'In one street alone, they said three children could at one point be seen hanging from the lampposts and around the corner another child lay burned on the road. Parents and children who resisted were badly beaten.' Ms Lough said that, at first, the three women, all middle-aged, were reluctant to talk about what they had seen for fear of persecution.

"'They were genuinely afraid for their lives,' she added. 'Through what I can gather, they knew of at least 11 deaths but said there were many more elsewhere in the city.'

"'One of the ladies said Ba'ath party leaders and several henchmen had ordered and carried out the killings after their headquarters were bombed last week. It was their way of getting back. One of the men told a father his son was being killed because the father had been seen laughing with several men from the British Army that day. They told him he had "betrayed" Saddam in an act of treason. He received a broken leg and a severe beating. The men made the father watch as they set his son alight with petrol.'"
-- The Mail on Sunday (London), April 6, 2003

"Haydar, who played 12 years on Iraq's junior and senior national teams, said the troubles started in 1986, when he joined professional team al-Rashid, which was owned by Hussein. When the team lost, Haydar said, players were imprisoned for several days.

"'I was tortured for the first time in 1993, after the Iraqi national team lost 2-0 to Jordan,' Haydar told ... A few months later, when Haydar suggested he might not be able to play because of a bleeding ulcer, he was arrested at his home at 2:30 a.m. and sent to prison.

"'He took me right to the Olympic prison, where the guards whipped my feet 20 times a day for three days,' he said. 'They gave me nothing to eat or drink other than a daily glass of water and slice of bread. Then they sent me to al-Radwaniya for four more days of punishment, and this time, I got the full treatment.

"'They took my clothes off, laid me down on my back and dragged me by my legs across hot pavement until my back was a bloody mess. Then they made me roll in the sand. And just to make sure that the wounds got infected, I had to climb a 15-foot ladder and jump repeatedly into a pit of sewage water filled with blood and who knows what else. All because I wanted to stop playing soccer.'"
-- The Miami Herald, April 6, 2003

"A burly 39-year-old man named Qifa, assigned by Mr. Hussein's Information Ministry to keep watch on an American reporter, paused at midmorning, outside the inferno that had been the headquarters of Iraq's National Olympic Committee, to ask the reporter to grip his hand. The building, used to torture and kill opponents of Mr. Hussein, had been one of the most widely feared places in Iraq.

"'Touch me, touch me, tell me that this is real, tell me that the nightmare is really over,' the man said, tears running down his face."
-- New York Times, April 4, 2003

"Ahmed [writer Ahmed Shawkut] went to prison again in 1997. This time, it was his second collection of short stories that did him in. The government had approved the book, but Ahmed sneaked into one of the stories a poorly veiled allegory criticizing Hussein.

"The Mukhabarat was not amused. Agents collected the entire 1,000-copy print run from the Mosul bazaar, piled the books on the ground and ordered Ahmed to torch them. After that, all he needed to do to make things right for the regime was to serve nine months of solitary confinement in a rat-infested cell."
-- San Francisco Chronicle, April 2, 2003

"Former Iraqi weightlifter Raed Ahmad, who defected to the U.S. during the 1996 Games in Atlanta, told the Daily News that athletes are routinely deprived of food and sleep, and the soles of their feet are caned. They are chained to walls for days, he said, and sometimes thrown into tanks filled with raw sewage."
-- The Daily News (New York), April 2, 2003

Email this page to a friend

Issues In Focus

  |   News Current News Press Briefings Proclamations   |   Executive Orders   |   Radio   |   Appointments   |   Nominations Application   |   Offices   |   Freedom Corps   |   Faith-Based & Community   |   OMB   |   More Offices   |   Major Speeches   |   Iraq Transition   |   State of the Union   |   Saddam Capture   |   UN Address   |   National Address   |   Iraqi Freedom   |   National Address