- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nidhal Al-Sultan, a soldier in Iraq for most of the 1980s, has no mercy for Saddam Hussein, his old commander in chief, who went on trial yesterday in Baghdad.

“I’d like for him to be executed,” said Mr. Al-Sultan, 47, who came to the United States with his family in 1997. “With the bad guys, if you don’t play their game, they will keep harming you. If you have a criminal and you’re not punishing him, he will keep doing his crimes.”

Mr. Al-Sultan was among Iraqi expatriates across America who closely watched television news yesterday as Saddam pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and torture. If convicted, Saddam could face the death penalty — by hanging.

Nashville is one of several U.S. cities that are centers of Iraqi expatriates who fled persecution under Saddam’s regime. Among the city’s Iraqis are an estimated 8,000 members of Iraq’s Kurdish minority, the largest U.S. community of Kurds.

Outside a Nashville mosque, Fathladin Yahya talked about the trial with several other men.

“We hope they kill him because he’s killed a lot of our families,” said Mr. Yahya, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1993. He watched the start of the trial on television at his nighttime job before his morning prayer at the mosque.

Jalal Al-Sultan, the brother of Nidhal Al-Sultan, said he did not go to bed Tuesday night because he didn’t want to miss a moment of the trial, which he watched on Iraqi television via satellite at his brother’s Nashville home.

He thought the tribunal judges were too gentle in their treatment of Saddam. “I was angry at how the court was treating him. The judge was being too nice,” Jalal Al-Sultan said.

In Dearborn, Mich., also home to many Iraqi immigrants, Abdul Khaliq Alsaeedy said most immigrants he knows want to see Saddam executed. There’s a fear among Iraqi-Americans, though, that “something fishy” will happen and that won’t happen, he said.

“The people who left [Iraq], they were really, really suffering,” said Mr. Alsaeedy, who left Iraq in 1990, but visited twice last year.

“We hope he will get the right result of being a bad regime,” Mr. Alsaeedy said. “Saddam Hussein, he will deserve what he deserves. He has been torturing people. He has been killing people, mass graves.”

The first session of Saddam’s trial lasted about three hours, and the judge ordered an adjournment until Nov. 28. He and seven senior members of his regime are charged with ordering the 1982 killings of 143 persons in the mainly Shi’ite village of Dujail north of Baghdad.