Accessibility links

Breaking News

Background: Saddam Ordered Killings After Failed 1982 Assassination Attempt

Saddam Hussein's death sentence for crimes against humanity stems from the killing of 148 Iraqi Shi'ite Muslims 24 years ago in the village of Dujail.

Saddam visited the village in 1982, when many of its men were off fighting Iraq's war against Iran. One of Saddam's cameramen videotaped the trip, showing the Iraqi president visiting a family home and speaking to a crowd from the local Baath Party headquarters.

But as his convoy left the village, it was ambushed by men hiding in roadside groves. Saddam was not injured and went back into Dujail to tell villagers he would find those responsible.

Saddam was filmed interrogating villagers himself. Eventually, thousands of people were arrested and questioned during a military crackdown against the village. Some were tortured, and 148 were executed. Saddam's forces also destroyed the village's orchards and groves.

The former Iraqi leader is also on trial on genocide charges for his military campaign against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s, including the 1988 poison gas attack on the town of Halabja. Saddam began the Anfal campaign after accusing the Kurds of aiding Iran during the Iran-Iraq war.