Letter in Hussein's Name Urges Iraqis 'Not to Hate'

By Sudarsan Raghavan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 28, 2006

BAGHDAD, Dec. 27 -- A farewell letter posted on the Internet Wednesday in the name of Saddam Hussein declared the former president to be victimized by foreign armies but ready to die and "be with the merciful God." The letter urged Iraqis not to hate the foreign peoples whose armies invaded the country, just their leaders.

Released a day after Iraq's highest court upheld his death sentence and opened the way for his execution within 30 days, the letter said: "I call you now and invite you not to hate, because hatred does not leave space for a person to be fair and it will blind your vision and close all doors of thinking."

Published on several Iraqi Web sites, the letter was written in ancient Arabic verse. Though Hussein took power a generation ago as a secular leader, in later years he mirrored the rise of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East, depicting himself as devoted to Islam. Much of the letter reflects that tone.

In interviews on Wednesday, two of Hussein's defense attorneys based in Amman, Jordan, said the letter was authentic and written by Hussein on Nov. 5. That was the day he was sentenced to death by hanging for the killings of 148 Shiite residents of the town of Dujail following an attempt on his life there in 1982.

"Yes, it is true," said Khalil al-Dulaimi, one of his attorneys.

The second lawyer, Saleh al-Armouti, said the letter was Hussein's way of expressing contempt for his sentence and for the Bush administration. "He's not an enemy of the American forces. He's an enemy of Bush," said Armouti. "There are a lot free people in the United States who are against the American occupation, and who should be respected for their opinions."

There was no independent way to verify that the letter was written by Hussein.

In the letter, Hussein said he was expressing his sentiments because the Iraqi High Tribunal and its chief judge "did not give us a chance to say what we want to say." The court, the letter continued, "issued its verdict without any explanation and read us the sentence -- according to orders of the invaders -- without presenting the evidence."

Turning to the future, the letter says: "Here, I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if God wants He will lift it up to where the first believers and martyrs are and if His decision is postponed, then He is the most merciful. . . . So be patient and depend on Him against the unjust nations."

Addressing the "generous, loyal people," the letter bids them farewell. "I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in Him and God won't disappoint any honest believer."

Portions of the letter praised Americans who assisted Hussein in his trial, an apparent reference to former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, who joined Hussein's defense team.

"You should know that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle against the invaders, and some of them volunteered for the legal defense of detainees, and one of them is Saddam Hussein," the letter said. "Others exposed the scandals of the invaders or condemned them.

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