Al Jazeera had broadcast a video clip (taken by the ubiquitous mobile phone by one witness to the execution) showing Saddam Hussein in verbal combat (exchanging taunts with onlookers) before the gallows floor dropped away to end his life.
For example when a guard said to Saddam "God damn you", Saddam riposted calmly "God damn you."
I suppose in Arabic such a response didn’t require emphasis on the English adverb ‘too’.
Defiant Saddam, even at his moment of death, not only smiled at those taunting him from below the gallows, but paid them the ultimate Arab insult - he said they were not showing manhood – oh la la, the insulting ‘bukan anak jantan’ or in more crude terms “Hey, you poofters lack balls!”.
Addendum (after publishing) from a fresh SMH report:
The jerky web footage, apparently shot on a mobile phone by a guard or one of about 20 official observers at the dawn hanging, showed people in the execution chamber chanting the name of Shiite cleric and militia leader Moqtada al-Sadr and Saddam smiling back, saying: "Is this what you call manhood?"
Seemingly accusing his captors of misrule, he replied to the taunt of "Go to hell" by asking: "The hell that is Iraq?"
KT comment:: he was not only defiant but sarcastically witty even at his moment of death. This will only boost his myth.Several witness accounts said Saddam was calm but scornful of his captors, engaging in umremitting verbal combat with those gathered to watch him die. He insisted he was Iraq's saviour, not its tyrant and scourge.
National security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie, who was a witness, told The New York Times that one of the guards shouted at Saddam: "You have destroyed us. You have killed us. You have made us live in destitution."
To which Saddam responded: "I have saved you from destitution and misery and destroyed your enemies, the Persians and Americans."
Then, probably realising he was on his way to meet his Maker (the One above or the Pretender below) Saddam began reciting the Shahada - ‘there is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger’.
Saddam made it to midway through his second recitation of the verse. His last word before the floor dropped out of the gallows was Muhammad (pbuh). I am sure some Sunnis, especially the Baathists, would be building up on the significance of this coincidence, to endow Saddam Hussein with an Islamic halo.
You know, all these reports would only enhance the already growing myth that Saddam Hussein had been the hero of the Sunnis, betrayed by Shiites with the connivance of the Americans and …….. (fill in the blank – anyone the Sunnis don’t like).
In the days to come, that enhanced myth will inflate, of that of a loyal Iraqi hero murdered through (American, Kurd & Shiite) treachery. Perhaps it may be, in a certain way, likened to the saga of Hang Jebat in Malay mythology. And perhaps like Hang Jebat, his name may even be rehabilitated, consecrated and honoured in the distant future.
But it will only spur the insurgency to a more frenzied level and intensity. I wouldn’t be surprised if al Qaeda now exploits this boost to the Saddam myth, that Mother-of-Them-All Iraqi-Islamist hero, another Sulaiman the Great. As they say, all's fair in love and war.
For Saddam’s mythologised image as that of a cool, unrepentant and dignified fighter to the end in the face of overwhelming treacherous enemies, we have only those avaricious mobile phone owners to thank, who were undoubtedly commissioned with huge sums by the eager news media bent on ‘breaking news’ scoops.
Killing Saddam Hussein may be President Bush's biggest mistake, much as the Americans want to be like Pontius Pilate in his execution. Bush has stupidly turned Saddam into someone he (Bush) could never ever be, a 'hero' to his people.