Saddam Hussein-Detroit’s honorary citizen.

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I am not sure what they were smoking in Detroit when this happened but it must have been some heavy stuff.

In 1980 America, the Cold War was still very much hot, Ronald Reagan was elected President, and the United States’ Olympic hockey team shockingly upset the USSR in what would be dubbed “The Miracle on Ice.” Oh, and the new president of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, was given a key to the city of Detroit. How did this come to pass?

 

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Saddam Hussein donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to a Detroit church and received a key to the city more than two decades ago, soon after he became president of Iraq.

The events contrast sharply with the attack Saddam’s regime is now facing from a U.S.-led coalition, reflecting his changed relationship with the United States since Washington helped Saddam covertly in his 1980-88 war with Iran.

Saddam’s bond with Detroit started in 1979, when the Rev. Jacob Yasso of Chaldean Sacred Heart congratulated Saddam on his presidency. In return, Yasso said, his church received $250,000.

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“He was very kind person, very generous, very cooperative with the West. Lately, what’s happened, I don’t know,” Yasso,, said . “Money and power changed the person.”

Yasso said that at the time, Saddam made donations to Chaldean churches around the world.

“He’s very kind to Christians,” Yasso said.

Chaldeans are a Eastern Rite Catholic group in predominantly Muslim Iraq. Among prominent Chaldeans is Iraq’s deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz.

A year later, Yasso traveled with about two dozen people to Baghdad as a guest of the Iraqi government, and they were invited to Saddam’s palace.

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“We were received on the red carpet,” Yasso said.

Yasso said he presented Saddam with the key to the city, courtesy of then-Mayor Coleman Young. Then, Yasso said, he got a surprise.

“He said, ‘I heard there was a debt on your church. How much is it?'” Yasso said.

Saddam donated another $200,000.

In the 1980s, Iraq and the United States were allied in their mistrust of Iran, which held hundreds of Americans hostage under the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Yasso called Saddam an American puppet.

“The job the United States trusted to him is done; now he’s no good,” he said.

There are tens of thousands of Chaldeans among the roughly 300,000 Americans of Middle Eastern descent in the Detroit area. About 1,200 families attend Sacred Heart, said Yasso, who came to the United States in 1964.

Some church members disagreed that Saddam was once kind.

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Saddam Hussein’s last words

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Saddam was hanged on the first day of Eid ul-Adha, 30 December 2006, 10 years ago today, despite his wish to be shot (which he felt would be more dignified). The execution was carried out at Camp Justice, an Iraqi army base in Kadhimiya, a neighborhood of northeast Baghdad.

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Not long before the execution, Saddam’s lawyers released his last letter. The following includes several excerpts:

To the great nation, to the people of our country, and humanity,

Many of you have known the writer of this letter to be faithful, honest, caring for others, wise, of sound judgment, just, decisive, careful with the wealth of the people and the state … and that his heart is big enough to embrace all without discrimination.

You have known your brother and leader very well and he never bowed to the despots and, in accordance with the wishes of those who loved him, remained a sword and a banner.

This is how you want your brother, son or leader to be … and those who will lead you (in the future) should have the same qualifications.

Here, I offer my soul to God as a sacrifice, and if He wants, He will send it to heaven with the martyrs, or, He will postpone that … so let us be patient and depend on Him against the unjust nations.

Remember that God has enabled you to become an example of love, forgiveness and brotherly coexistence … I call on you not to hate, because hate does not leave a space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking and keeps away one from balanced thinking and making the right choice.

I also call on you not to hate the peoples of the other countries that attacked us and differentiate between the decision-makers and peoples. Anyone who repents – whether in Iraq or abroad – you must forgive him.

You should know that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle against the invaders, and some of them volunteered for the legal defence of prisoners, including Saddam Hussein … some of these people wept profusely when they said goodbye to me.

Dear faithful people, I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any faithful, honest believer … God is Great … God is great … Long live our nation … Long live our great struggling people … Long live Iraq, long live Iraq … Long live Palestine … Long live jihad and the mujahedeen.

Saddam Hussein President and Commander in Chief of the Iraqi Mujahed Armed Forces

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Additional clarification note:

I have written this letter, because the lawyers told me that the so-called criminal court — established and named by the invaders — will allow the so-called defendants the chance for a last word. But that court and its chief judge did not give us the chance to say a word, and issued its verdict without explanation and read out the sentence — dictated by the invaders — without presenting the evidence. I wanted the people to know this.

 

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