On 13 DEC 2003, a joint task force consisting of multiple military and U.S. federal agencies commenced Operation RED DAWN near the Iraqi city of Tikrit. Task Force 121 was to search two locations in the town of ad-Dawr situated to the north of Tikrit on the Tigris River. TF121 had launched multiple raids in an attempt to find Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who had fled after the 2003 invasion of Iraq had begun. On the evening of 13 DEC 2003, TF121 was about to conclude its thirteenth unsuccessful attempt to locate the despot. At 2030 local time, Hussein was located between the two locations being searched by TF121. Upon discovery, he did not resist capture and was immediately arrested.

Following the capture, the international community clamored with reactions ranging from praise to criticism. Cautionary praise was later revealed to be the reality, when several nations praised the capture but cautioned on the potential for additional regional destabilization and retaliation. Increases in insurgency operations and sympathetic retaliation began to increase in the months that followed the capture. So great were some forms of this interference that it delayed the proceeding court hearings.

The first hearing occurred on 1 JUL 2004, where Hussein appeared to be “confident” and “defiant” throughout. He maintained that all of his actions through his dictatorship were justified, to include the 1990 Invasion of Kuwait and posed that the United States was the active instigator in Iraq.[1] Hussein had been and continued to be held on Iraqi Army and Joint military installations within Iraq up through his verdict.

His composure began fading during the onset of the 2005 trials, and the subsequent verdict delivered in 2006. Hussein was found guilty of crimes against humanity on 5 NOV 2006. He was sentenced to death by hanging for his role in the killing of 148 Shiites from Dujail in 1982.[2] Subsequent charges included his actions against Iran, Kuwait, and harboring of al-Qaeda sympathizers in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Hussein was executed on 30 DEC 2006 between 0600 & 0900 local time at Camp Justice, Baghdad. His two sons had been killed prior to his own capture in 2003. With his death, and the jailing and execution of other prominent old-regime figureheads, the Hussein regime had come to a close no later than early 2007 ending almost forty years of oppression.


[1] "You are an Iraqi. You know who I am." The Guardian. 20 OCT 2005. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/oct/20/iraq.mainsection

[2] Semple, Kirk. "Saddam Hussein is Sentenced to Death." The New York Times. 5 NOV 2006. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/05/world/middleeast/05cnd-saddam.html

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