A horrifying account of Saddam's use of chemical weapons, and the atrocities his sidekick "Chemical Ali" performed in the name of the Ba'ath Party.
General Ali Hassan al-Majid , who was reported yesterday to have died aged 62 during a bombing raid on Basra, southern Iraq, was known as "Chemical Ali" and "the Butcher of Kurdistan" for his atrocities in repressing Kurdish rebels in Iraq; he ordered the largest-ever chemical weapons attack on civilians, killing 5,000 and wounding 10,000. He was the first Iraqi "governor" of Kuwait after the 1990 invasion, presiding over a campaign of murder, rape and destruction of property. He later directed Baghdad's violent repression of abortive uprisings by the Kurds, and Shias in southern Iraq, after Operation Desert Storm had been halted by the Allied coalition following the liberation of Kuwait. Al-Majid, a diabetic who suffered in later life from hypertension and spinal infections, was a key associate for more than 20 years of his first cousin, President Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti. A Ba'ath Party veteran and influential member of the Revolution Command Council in Iraq, he was a dependable ally of the Iraqi leader, despite falling out of favour with him in the mid-1990s. Unlike others who angered Saddam, al-Majid was wily enough to recover after a temporary setback. In the autumn of 2002, the Bush administration named al-Majid as one of a "dirty dozen" of Saddam's closest henchmen who would face trial for war crimes, if they survived the overthrow of the Iraqi regime.