The Saddam Huessein Presidential Library

The Scotsman:

HE WAS buried in the darkness before dawn, his body inside a plain wooden box.

Saddam Hussein had been carried on his final journey from Baghdad to Tikrit on board an armoured United States helicopter. The last leg, from Tikrit to an open grave in Aujah, the village of his birth, was even more ignominious: the plain wooden coffin bumped about on the back of a white pick-up truck.

The Iraqi government had wished to bury the dictator, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen during more than three decades in power, in a secret, unmarked grave.

Yet negotiations in Baghdad between government ministers, US officials and Ali al-Nida, the head of the Albu-Nassir tribal clan to which Saddam belonged, led to the dictator being granted something which he denied to tens of thousands of his victims: a marked grave.

Members of his extended family now plan to build a presidential library and a religious school, dedicated to the memory of Iraq's most monstrous ruler.

"We want to make this place an appropriate and suitable edifice," declared Muayad al-Hazaa, who said he was a cousin of the late dictator.

The body was delivered to Tikrit, his former stronghold 80 miles from Baghdad, by the US military in the early hours of yesterday morning. The body was stripped of the clothes worn at his execution on Saturday, ritually bathed, as is the custom for a Muslim burial, and covered in a white shroud. The coffin was then taken to a mosque, built in the 1980s when the dictator was at the height of his powers, where a short service was held.

Afterwards, the coffin was loaded on to the white pick-up truck for the short journey to Aujah, a small settlement of unusually grand homes - signs of the prosperity it had enjoyed during the rule of its most famous son, who was born there 69 years ago.

More than 2,000 people had gathered in the town, many weeping. A grave had been dug in the earth floor of a religious hall and it was there, in the presence of local officials and the tribal leaders who had played a major role in his rise to power, that he was buried.


Saddam's current resting spot is two miles from the cemetery where his sons, Uday and Qusay, killed by US troops in Mosul in July 2003, lie in a family plot.

It was near Aujah that Saddam was discovered hiding in an underground bunker on 13 December, 2003, eight months after he fled Baghdad ahead of advancing US troops.

Perhaps they can catalog pictures of some of his hundreds of thousands of victims and their mass graves that are, of course, unmarked. Perhaps they will have some of his novels on display as examples of his fiction and fantasy life. All of the works of being a genocidal despot deserve to be recorded and kept for all to see.


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