Saddam Executed; Dark Iraqi Chapter Finally Closes

Saddam refused hood, shouted 'God is great' as he went to the

BAGHDAD (AP) _ Saddam Hussein clutched a Quran and refused a
hood as he went to the gallows before sunrise in Iraq.

And, after first refusing to say any final words, he shouted
``God is great. The nation will be victorious and Palestine is

Sami al-Askari (SAH'-mee ahl as-KAHR'-ee) says Saddam uttered
his final words before the rope that was used to hang him was
placed around his neck. Al-Askari says Saddam, wearing black, was
``taken by force'' to the gallows but remained composed.

Iraq's national security adviser, Mouwafak al-Rubaie
(moh-WAH'-fahk ahl-roo-BAH'-ee) tells Iraq's state-run television
Saddam was in handcuffs.

The official says the execution was photographed and videotaped.

Fate of Saddam's body remains unclear

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ An Iraqi official reportedly says Saddam
Hussein's body is being held by the government. But it's fate is
not clear.

National Security adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie (moh-WAH'-fahk
ahl-roo-BAH'-ee) told state-run television the body may eventually
be handed over to Saddam's family.

But one of the former leader's lawyers is expressing concern
that Saddam's remains could be destined for an unmarked grave. He
says the government may want to hide Saddam's burial site to
prevent Iraqis from paying ``respect to the president.''

Meanwhile, Dubai-based al-Arabiya satellite T-V quotes one of
Saddam's daughters as having asked Yemen's president to request
Saddam's body for temporary burial in the country. She hopes to
eventually take her father's remains to Tikrit, Saddam's former
base of power north of Baghdad.

Bush: Saddam Hussein's execution will not end violence in Iraq

CRAWFORD, Texas (AP) _ President Bush is cautioning that the
death of Saddam Hussein will not quell violence in Iraq.

In a statement issued from his Texas ranch, Bush said Saddam's
execution marks the ``end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people
and for our troops.''

Bush also called Saddam's death ``an important milestone on
Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain and
defend itself.''

He also said the execution is a reminder of how far the Iraqi
people have come since the end of Saddam's rule.

UPDATE: Bomb kills at least 17 south of Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ At least 17 people are dead after a bomb
planted aboard a minibus exploded in a fish market south of

The explosion occurred in Kufa, which is about 100 miles from
the capital.

Women and children are among the dead. At least 25 people have
been wounded.

It's not yet clear if the bombing is in reaction to Saddam
Hussein's execution.

Five more American troops die

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ U-S military officials say four more
Americans have been killed in Iraq.

That bring's December's total to 108, making it the deadliest
month of the year for Americans. In October, 105 were killed.

The military says three Marines and a soldier were killed in
battle. The Marines died of wounds from fighting in Anbar province.
The soldier was killed in Karmah Thursday by small arms fire.
Separately, the family of another soldier said he died Wednesday in
Texas of injuries suffered in Iraq.

According to an Associated Press count, 29-hundred-97 service
members have been killed since the Iraq war started in March 2003.

Soldiers and military families offer mixed assessment of
execution's meaning

UNDATED (AP) _ Satisfaction, hope and continued skepticism.

Those are just some of the wide range of emotions and views from
American soldiers and their families about Saddam Hussein's

Nancy Hollinsaid, an Illinois woman who lost a son in Iraq, says
she's glad Saddam ``is off the face of the earth.'' She says the
former leader's death will ``do some good'' for her heart.

Gunnery Sergeant Brian Schiller, back in Chicago after a second
tour in Iraq, calls the execution ``symbolic'' and hopes it will
unite some factions. And National Guard engineer Hiram Lewis of
West Virginia says it's significant that Saddam was put to death by

But Jane Bright of Los Angeles, whose son was killed in Iraq in
2003, says Saddam's death ``accomplishes nothing'' and won't bring
her son back.

Saddam's brutal rule leaves behind physical, spiritual

UNDATED (AP) _ Saddam Hussein once boasted of being the
``builder of modern Iraq,'' but that is not how many will remember
him in death. One scholar says Iraq will need decades to recover
from his rule.

Millions of Iraqis enjoyed luxuries during the country's oil
boom in the 1970s.

But at the same time, Saddam took hold of Iraq's political
system, banning political parties, unions and civic groups not
controlled by his Baath party. And the imprisonment and execution
of political opponents were common.

The 1980 invasion of Iran took its toll on Iraq's economy, which
was further drained by the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Both wars
claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, and the Kuwait invasion
resulted in U-N sanctions that further strangled the economy.

An expert says Iraq's society is now ``imbued with fear.'' He
says Saddam left behind ``misery and destruction everywhere.''

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)