Thursday 23 November 2017

Saddam spent his last days listening to Mary J Blige

Saddam Hussein listens during his trial in Baghdad. Photo: Reuters
Saddam Hussein listens during his trial in Baghdad. Photo: Reuters

Daniel Bates London

Saddam Hussein spent his final days listening to Mary J Blige and tending the garden in his prison, a book about the Iraqi dictator claims.

A former guard has revealed Hussein had green fingers and adored the American singer.

Mary J Blige performs at a concert in Los Angeles. Photo: Reuters
Mary J Blige performs at a concert in Los Angeles. Photo: Reuters

He also liked to ride a rickety exercise bike he called his "pony" as he awaited trial for ordering the execution of 148 opponents. He also had a sweet tooth and liked to eat muffins and had a laugh like the vampire Count von Count from 'Sesame Street'.

Hussein became friendly with his American guards and told them stories about his own family - only with a murderous twist.

On one occasion he burned all of his son Uday's cars because he went wild at a party and shot dead several people.

Hussein, who ruled Iraq with brutality and violence for three decades, was hanged in 2006 after the US invasion.

As he awaited trial in Baghdad, he was watched over by a group of soldiers from the 551st Military Police Company, who came to call themselves The Super Twelve.

Among them was Will Bardenwerper, whose new book is called 'The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, and What History Leaves Unsaid'.

In it he said Hussein surprised the guards by liking simple pleasures and seemed content in his cell.

He liked to smoke Cohiba cigars, which he stored in an empty box of wet wipes. Fidel Castro had taught him how to smoke them.

Mr Bardenwerper writes that Saddam loved the plants in the scrubby prison garden and was "treating them more like beautiful flowers than the ugly growths they were."

Irish Independent

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