Saddam Half Brother and Chief Judge Hanged

Saddam Hussein’s intelligence chief and top judge were hanged early this morning.

Saddam Hussein’s half brother and the former head of Iraq’s Revolutionary Court were both hanged before dawn Monday, officials said, two weeks and two days after the former Iraqi dictator was executed in a chaotic scene that has drawn worldwide criticism. Barzan Ibrahim, Saddam’s half brother and former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar head of Iraq’s Revolutionary Court, had been found guilty along with Saddam in the killing of 148 Shiite Muslims after a 1982 assassination attempt on the former leader in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh confirmed the executions, saying those attending the hangings included a prosecutor, a judge and a physician. He also said Ibrahim’s head was severed from his body during his hanging. “In a rare incident, the head of the accused Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan was separated from his body during the execution,” al-Dabbagh told reporters.

The executions reportedly occurred in the same Saddam-era military intelligence headquarters building in north Baghdad where the former leader was hanged two days before the end of 2006, according to an Iraqi general, who would not allow use of his name because he was not authorized to release the information. The building is located in the Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah.

The two men were to have been hanged along with Saddam on Dec. 30, but Iraqi authorities decided to execute Saddam alone on what National Security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie called a “special day.”

The Washington Post buried a similar summary on A12, making it a footnote to Saddam’s execution, so the “special day” goal would seem to have been reached. My guess is that they did a better job this time to ensure no private video cameras were present, although the interest in seeming them would be much less than it was for the big guy.

UPDATE: John Burns and Marc Santora have a more extensive report for NYT.

The executions come just two weeks after Mr. Hussein’s hanging caused considerable criticism around the world because of the way it was carried out, including guards cursing the former dictator as he stood on the gallows.

American military officials, who had custody of Mr. Hussein, were particularly upset and pushed hard to ensure that the execution of his co-defendants, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, former head of the Mukhabarat secret police and the younger half-brother of Mr. Hussein, and Awad Hamad al-Bandar, who was chief judge of the revolutionary court under Mr. Hussein, was carried out properly.

The government spokesman who announced the executions, which took place at 3 a.m., Bassam al-Husseini, said both the executioners and the witnesses had to sign statements promising to behave in a dignified manner.


A senior American official said over the weekend that Mr. Tikriti and Mr. Bandar would not be handed over to Iraqi officials for execution until the Iraqis present detailed plans that satisfied the Americans that there would be no repeat of the abusive treatment Mr. Hussein was exposed to before he was hanged.

It would appear the Iraqi government is not quite as “sovereign” as advertised.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. What a strange time that we are living in.
    I guess his hanging was just an attempt to culm down the Sadam-regime-folowers, but I do really doubt, if this is going to change the current situation in Iraq.

    Thank you for sharing this story with me !

  2. LJD says:

    Capital punishment is not unique to this ‘time’, it has occurred throughout history.

    Saddam’s hanging was an ‘attempt’ to show a functioning justice system in Iraq, nothing more. He was tried and hanged for his crimes, not to influence the course of Iraq. I would say the same for any memebers of his regime.

  3. This execution had its problems. Barzan Ibrahim was beheaded in the process.

  4. John Burgess says:

    Conducting a hanging is not a simple thing; it requires some knowledge and skill.

    If the rope’s too long, you end up with messes like the decapitation above. Too short, and you end up strangling the condemned instead of properly breaking his/her neck.

    Sounds like the Iraqi executioner needs more practice or a better set of weight/length tables.

    I’m not sure I agree with James, though, that the US hesitance in handing over the condemned was a demonstration of lack of sovereignty. The US took a terrific hit in the PR with the Iraqis’ poor attempt at crowd control with Saddam’s execution. As a vested party in the matter, the US does have a right to insist that a modicum of decorum be used. If push had come to shove, though, I doubt that the US would not have handed the condemned over to Iraqi authorities. There just would have been a lot of before the fact disclaiming going on.

  5. John Burgess says:

    For more than you probably want to know about the mechanics of hanging, try here.

  6. G.A.Phillips says:

    It is an exaction who cares if his head fell off, have the Libs got to you all, yes, lets be nice to people we hang, lets makes sure it looks p.c. Oh and the current situation in Iraq is because of our wonderful DNC an all of their traitor leaders in our government and media, nothing more nothing less, since before we even got there they gave aid and comfort to our enemy as they still do today, Cowards and traitors the hole lot of them. I hope you liberals enjoy the power you played this game of game of death with our countrymen for and still are.

  7. Pug says:

    Thanks for telling it like it is, G.A. Phillips. At least how it is on your planet. Your points are very articulately stated as well. Listen to much right-wing talk radio, do you?

    Look, the guys both deserved to be hanged. It is, however, unfortunate that one of their heads fell off in the process. That just isn’t good form.