How was Saddam Hussein captured

Only the confrontation with the USA ended with his fall. During the eight months on the flight, he addressed the Iraqis on tapes and urged them to resist the occupation forces. He was then captured in a hole in the ground near his hometown of Tikrit.

Since then, there have only been humiliating photos of him from prison that have been released to the press.

Saddam Hussein was born on April 28, 1937, the son of a farmer; he grew up without a father. On the way to power he walked over corpses. In 1959 he was one of the assassins who wanted to murder the then ruler General Abdel-Karim Kassem.

The attempt failed, Saddam Hussein was injured and had to flee abroad. But he returned after the Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party assassinated Kassem in a 1964 coup he helped organize.

Saddam Hussein quickly became the strong man behind Ahmed Hassan al Bakr, a maternal cousin whom he eventually overthrew in July 1979. The subsequent wave of purges in the Ba'ath Party fell victim to 22 high-ranking party members, and Saddam Hussein is said to have participated in some of the executions himself. He based his rule on murder and fear. In public he liked to portray himself as a loving father of the country.

During the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988, he repeatedly cracked down on ethnic groups he suspected of cooperating with the enemy. The military actions in the Kurdish areas probably killed around 180,000 people, and 5,000 fell victim to a poison gas attack. He used tanks to suppress the Shiite uprising in the south of the country.

Striving for power impoverishes Iraq

His 23-year rule also brought the longest period of internal stability to the country that was established by the British after the First World War. With the money from the huge oil reserves, he started ambitious social programs and economic reforms in the 1970s. The literacy rate rose from 30 to 70 percent, the highest rate in any Arab country.

But the country's striving for power and international prestige also ruined it. In the eight-year war against Iran, the country became impoverished and hundreds of thousands of soldiers died on both sides.

His defeat was only prevented by arms shipments from the West, which feared a victory for the fundamentalists in Iran. This friendship ended with the attack on Kuwait in 1990. The UN sanctions that were then imposed left the country further impoverished. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush supported the plans to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

In the Arab world, however, many would have preferred a weak Saddam Hussein, who is held in check by the US and Great Britain, than his overthrow by US troops. For many ordinary people in the Arab world, Saddam Hussein became a hero with his resistance against the USA.

Saddam personally only trusted his two sons, Kusai and Odai, who were shot by US soldiers in 2003. His two eldest daughters, Raghad and Rana, fled to Jordan, and their younger sister Hala is said to live with their mother, also abroad.