Saddam Hussein’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid was sentenced to death this week for leading a genocidal campaign that killed 180,000 Iraqi Kurds two decades ago. Al-Majid gained the nickname “Chemical Ali” for ordering the use of mustard gas and nerve agents against the Kurds, in retaliation for their siding with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. An Iraqi court found him guilty of mass murder and crimes against humanity. Al-Majid, once a terrifying figure who displayed ghoulish delight on videotaped executions, trembled in silence as the death sentence was read. As he left the courtroom, he muttered loudly, “Thanks be to God, now I’m leaving.” Kurdish leaders expressed disappointment that Saddam—who went to the gallows in December for other atrocities—was never held accountable for the Kurdish genocide.
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