Saddam Defiant To The End - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Saddam Defiant To The End

(CBS/AP) Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging before dawn Saturday in Iraq, which was just before 10 p.m. Friday EST. This final chapter in Saddam's life followed three years spent in U.S. custody.

Hours after Saddam faced the same fate he was accused of inflicting on countless thousands during a quarter-century of ruthless power, Iraqi state television showed grainy video of what it said was his body, the head uncovered and the neck twisted at a sharp angle.

Al-Arabiya satellite television reported Saturday night that a delegation including the governor of Salahuddin Province and the head of Saddam's clan retrieved his body from Baghdad and took it for burial near the executed dictator's hometown of Tikrit. The broadcaster reported the burial would take place Sunday. The report could not immediately be verified.

Saddam struggled briefly after American military guards handed him over to Iraqi executioners. CBS News correspondent Randall Pinskton reports that he was shouting, 'long live Islam' and 'down with the West' and he showed no remorse.

But as his final moments approached, he grew calm. He clutched a Quran as he was led to the gallows . In one final moment of defiance, he refused to have a hood pulled over his head.

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that until being turned over to Iraqi control, Saddam remained in a jail cell in U.S. custody. The U.S. military had been prepared since early Friday morning to hand over Saddam to the Iraqi government, which wanted to execute the deposed dictator as soon as possible.

On his last night alive, Saddam sat alone on death row with his Quran, the Muslim holy book, Pinskton reports. As his time waned, Saddam received two of his half brothers in his cell and was said to have given them his personal belongings and a copy of his will.

Pinkston added that he was told that Saddam's daughters watched the execution on television from Jordan where they live. They reportedly said they were pleased their father went to the gallows showing no sign of fear and they were proud of him.

A man whose testimony helped lead to Saddam's conviction and execution before sunrise said he was shown the body because "everybody wanted to make sure that he was really executed."

"Now, he is in the garbage of history," said Jawad Abdul-Aziz, who lost his father, three brothers and 22 cousins in the reprisal killings that followed a botched 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the Shiite town of Dujail.

The execution came 56 days after a court convicted Saddam and sentenced him to death for his role in the killings of 148 Shiite Muslims from Dujail.

"Clearly there has to be visual proof at a minimum," senior Brookings Institution fellow Michael O'Hanlon told the The Saturday Early Show. "The Iraqis know there have been many doubles for Saddam over the years... They know that Saddam is a person who always, in his own mind, at least, seemed to defy death and overcome the odds. So I think a lot of Iraqis were still believing he would somehow find a way out of this one, too."

In Baghdad's Shiite enclave of Sadr City, hundreds of people danced in the streets while others fired guns in the air to celebrate. The government did not impose a round-the-clock curfew as it did last month when Saddam was convicted to thwart any surge in retaliatory violence.

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