- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 21, 2003

LONDON — Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as “Chemical Ali,” who was captured with his bodyguards in Iraq yesterday, videotaped torture sessions he had ordered as a means of enforcing loyalty to Saddam Hussein.

After taping tortures carried out by the secret police, al-Majid then forced Iraqi leaders to watch the videos, in carefully chosen groups.

This and other details about Saddam’s cousin and chief enforcer were revealed in a British radio interview yesterday by Rasheed Wahib, Saddam’s former private secretary.

A formidable dossier is being compiled for what coalition leaders and human rights groups hope will be a key war-crimes and genocide trial of Iraq’s Ba’athist era.

The charges would include mass killings under al-Majid’s orders of Kurdish Iraqis in the north, Shi’ite Muslims and Marsh Arabs in the south, and Kuwaitis. Al-Majid ruled the Kuwaitis after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of its neighbor to the south.

Al-Majid left behind a trail of documents and tapes that were captured from his offices in the northern city of Kirkuk during the failed Kurdish uprising in 1991.

Other documents were found in Kuwait after Iraqi forces were forced out by U.S. and allied troops earlier that year.

Chemical Ali was governor of Kuwait for three months late in 1990, and the reinstalled Kuwaiti leadership holds documents purportedly showing direct orders by al-Majid for deportations and executions.

A total of 605 persons arrested by al-Majid’s forces and deported to Iraq are still missing and presumed dead.

But the number of dead in Kurdish areas provides an even more incriminating basis for a genocide charge, according to the British legal and human rights group, Indict, as well as the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

As secretary-general of the northern bureau of the Ba’ath Party, he held authority over all agencies of the state in the Kurdish region from March 1987 to April 1989, including the 1st and 5th corps of the army, the General Security Directorate and military intelligence.

Human rights campaigners say the Iraqi army killed tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians in gas attacks and by summary execution.

Al-Majid masterminded the so-called “Anfal” operations. One of his orders, dated June 20, 1987, directed army commanders “to carry out special bombardments … to kill the largest number of persons present in … prohibited zones.”

“Special bombardments” refers to use of chemical munitions.

Named after a Koranic verse purportedly justifying pillage of infidels’ properties and possessions, the “Anfal” campaign unfolded as the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war was winding down.

It resulted in the murder and “disappearance” of about 100,000 noncombatants and the near-total destruction of families, entire villages and agricultural assets throughout rural Kurdish areas, say human rights groups.

Documents captured from Iraqi intelligence services show that the mass killings, “disappearances,” forced displacement, and other crimes were carried out in a coherent and highly centralized manner under al-Majid’s direct supervision.

His sobriquet, Chemical Ali, stemmed from the estimated 5,000 people found gassed to death in agonized positions throughout the Kurdish-Iraqi village of Halabja.

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