Saddam's Second Life

Feared and loathed as a leader, the tyrant has become a martyr in death

Yuri Kozyrev for Time

An Iraqi man whitewashes a portrait of Saddam in April 2003.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Saddam Hussein's end would be accompanied by low theatrics instead of high drama. After all, he had ruled for nearly three decades by a crude medieval code that vulgarized Iraqi public life. And yet the former dictator's final moments--the screams of "Go to hell" from spectators at the gallows, the taunts of "Muqtada, Muqtada" by guards evidently loyal to Shi'ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr--were undignified even by Saddam's standards. As if to block out the barbs, Saddam loudly intoned his final prayer, the traditional Islamic invocation to God and the Prophet Muhammad. But that too was cut short:...

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