|As the noose was slipped around his neck, and the trapdoor opened for him to plunge to his death Hussein called out, "G-d is great. The nation will be victorious, and Palestine is Arab."
Around the Muslim world, the festival of Eid al-Adha dawned Saturday morning with the news that Iraq's bloodiest dictator was dead. The families of the thousands of his countrymen whom he slaughtered throughout the 35 years he ruled Iraq with an iron fist celebrated his death, as did Kuwaitis and Iranians, who had suffered during Iraq's invasions. "This is the best Eid gift for humanity," said former Kuwaiti Information Minister Saad bin Tafla al-Ajmi.
Al-Ajmi said the families of hundreds of people who went missing during Iraq's seven-month occupation of Kuwait were "ecstatic," saying Hussein's death was "the fair punishment for the one who executed our sons without trials."
The former Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq said "the Arab nation has lost a hero. So have all of those who are against Iran and Israel and for Arab unity." Mohammed al-Douri added that Hussein's death was no triumph for the U.S. "They think this is a victory, the execution of President Saddam. They have no other victory to claim. There is no new Iraq, no democracy, no example for the region," he said.
Reactions in Israel were mixed.
Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh expressed concern about the post-Saddam era in Iraq. "We have to be worried about what is going to happen now," he said. Sneh told Israel Radio on Saturday that Iraq has become a regional "power station" for terror. He also said that Iran's influence was growing in Shi'ite areas of Iraq, as well as in the central government there.
Israeli Arab Knesset member Ahmed Tibi (Ta'al Ra'am) said the hanging was an act of "sadism," adding, "Even dictators deserve to be treated humanely."
Hamas official Mohammed Barghouti condemned the execution, saying that despite the disputes between his deeply religious terror organization and the secular leader, the Iraqi government was wrong to hang Saddam Hussein. Barghouti, who is the Labor Minister in the Hamas-led PA government, said that PA Arabs had "bonded with Iraqis in brotherhood."
During the first Gulf War in 1991, PA Arabs cheered Saddam's missile attacks on Israel, chanting "Beloved Saddam, strike Tel Aviv," as the Scud missiles flew overhead. During the second intifada, he also gave $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers who managed to kill Jews and $10,000 for other "martyrs" killed by the IDF.
Indeed, PA residents mourned their generous Iraqi backer, who had proved his support with money and missiles.
"We heard of his martyrdom, and I swear to G-d we were deeply shaken from within. Nobody was as supportive or stood with the Palestinians as he did," said Khadijeh Ahmad, a resident of the PA community of Qadora.
Residents in the PA town of Bethlehem opened a "house of condolence," hanging Iraqi flags and pictures of the dead dictator. Visitors to the center drank black coffee and black strips of cloth were tied to the antennas of vehicles in the streets.