One of the more frequent comments one hears from people who want to insist that there was no link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden is the contrast between Saddam, the secularist from the Ba’ath party and bin Laden, the religious zealot. Nothing, these members of the “reality based community” insist, could be more opposite.
I have tried to point out that the secular-religious split is a peculiarly Western development (it goes hand in hand with democracy and the freedom of religion, a good thing for both the seculars and the religious). To project the very difficult accomplishment of separating secular and religious spheres onto Saddam Hussein, and thereby to assume that someone like Saddam would have nothing to do with someone like Bin Laden is cognitive egocentrism.
Here is Saddam’s final speech. You be the judge of what kinds of things he had on his mind and he thought his audience had on his mind.
Saddam Hussein, President of the Republic of Iraq and the Chief Commander of the Combatant Armed Forces
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate:
‘Say: Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector: and in Allah let the Believers put their trust’
Oh, great people of Iraq. Oh, courageous men of our unrelenting armed forces. Oh, glorious Iraqi women. Oh, sons of our glorious nation, the courageous believers in the brave resistance.
In the past, I was, as you all know, in the battlefield of jihad and struggle. God, exalted be He, wished that I face the same again in the same manner and the same spirit in which we were before the revolution but with a problem that is greater and harsher.
Oh beloved, this harsh situation, which we and our great Iraq are facing, is a new lesson and a new trial for the people by which to be judged, each depending on their intention, so that it becomes an identifier before God and the people in the present and after our current situation becomes a glorious history. It is, above all, the foundation upon which the success of the fu! ture phases of history can be built. In this situation and in no other, the veritable are the honest and faithful and the opposing are the false. When the insignificant people use the power given to them by the foreigners to oppress their own people, they are but worthless and lowly. In our country only good must result from what we are experiencing:
‘The scum disappears like froth cast out; while that which is for the good of mankind remains on the earth’
God is all knowing.
Oh great nation. Oh people of our nation and of mankind. Many of you have known the owner of this letter for his truthfulness, his honesty, his purity, and his genuine concern over his people, for his wisdom, his vision, his justice, and for his firmness in dealing with issues and for his watchfulness over the properties of the people and of the country, and for living according to his conscience and his mind. His heart aches for the poor and he does not rest until he helps in improving their condition and attends to their needs. His heart contains all his people and his nation, and he craves to be honest and faithful without differentiating between his people except on the basis of their efforts, efficiency, and patriotism.
Here I am speaking today in your name and for your eyes and the eyes of our nation and the eyes of the just, the people of the truth, wherever their banner is hoisted.
Oh Iraqi people, oh our people and our folks and the folks of every honest and glorious man and woman in our country. You have known your brother and leader as well as his own family knew him. He never stooped to the cruel oppressors. He remained a sword and an authority on what is loved by the honest and abhorred by the oppressors.
Is this not the position which you would like your brother, your son, and your leader to take? Yes, this is how Saddam Hussein was described, and this is how his positions will be. If his positions did not, God forbid, correspond with his description, then he would despise himself. These are the stands which anyone who leads you and leads the nation must take, after God the Almighty and the all capable.
Here I am offering my soul as a sacrifice. If the Merciful wants it, he will raise it up whenever He commands it to be with the companions and the martyrs, and if He sees that He wants to postpone His decision, He will, because He is the Merciful and the Compassionate. He is the One who created us, and to Him we return. ‘Patience is most fitting.’ It is God whose help can be sought against the unjust.
Oh brothers, oh great nation. I call upon you to preserve the convictions which made you worthy of the faith that you have and to be the guiding light for civilization. Make your land, the birthplace of the father of the prophets, Abraham of Al-Khalil, and other prophets, and to preserve the values which officially and justifiably gave you the title of greatness for the sake of your country and your people. He offered all his life and the life of his family, young and old from the very beginning to this great nation and its faithful and honorable people and never gave up. In spite of all the difficulties and the storms which we and Iraq had to face, before and after the revolution, God the Almighty did not want death for Saddam Hussein. But if He wants it this time, it is His creation. He created it and He protected it until now. Thus, by its martyrdom, He will be bringing glory to a faithful soul, for there were souls that were younger than Saddam Hussein that had departed and had taken this path before him. If He wants it martyred, we thank Him and offer Him gratitude, before and after. ‘Patience is most fitting.’ It is God whose help can be sought against the unjust.
In the shadow of the greatness of the Creator, may He be exalted, and His protection, you must remember that God has bestowed on you different types of characteristics that make you a good example to be followed in love, pardon, forgiveness, and coexistence. The great make up of capabilities and resources which the Merciful had made available to you, was not meant to go to waste. He wanted it to be a test that would refine the souls. Hence there were some who joined your lines and others who joined the North Atlantic Treaty. Others were the Persians who are hateful as a result of their rulers’ actions who had inherited Kisra’s inheritance in place of Satan. He tempted those who obeyed him to turn against their own people or against their neighbors or tempted the Zionist aspirations and hatefulness to move their representative in the American White House to carry out the aggression and to create animosity that has nothing to do with humanity and faith. On the basis of faith, love, and peace, which bring glory and not bitterness to the glorified, you built the edifice and raised it without any fight or spite, and on this basis you were enjoying glory and peace in your beautiful colors, under the country’s flag, not in the distant past, especially after your distinguished revolution, your 17th revolution, on 30 July 1968. You realized victory and you carried it in the color of the one great Iraq as loving brothers in the battle trenches or in the construction fields. The enemies of your country, the invaders and the Persians, found that your unity stands as a barrier between them and your enslavement. They planted and grounded their hateful old and new wedge between you. The strangers who are carrying the Iraqi citizenship, whose hearts are empty or filled with the hatred that was planted in them by Iran, responded to it, but how wrong they were to think that they could divide the noble among our people, weaken your determination, and fill the hearts of the sons of the nation with hatred against each other, instead of against their true enemies that will lead them in one direction to fight under the banner of God is great: The great flag of the people and the nation.
Oh brothers! Oh mujahideen and fighters! For this I call on you now and I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair. It blinds you and closes all doors of thinking. Hate prevents you from thinking straight and from making the right choices and avoiding the wrong. It blocks your vision and prevents you from seeing the variables in the mind of those who were thought of as enemies, including those people who had gone astray but have changed their direction and have taken the right path, the path of the noble people and the glorious nation.
I also call on you, brothers and sisters, my children and the children of Iraq. I call on you, oh comrades of jihad; I call on you not to hate the people of the other countries that attacked us. You should distinguish between the decision-makers and the people. Just hate the action. Even those whose actions deserve to be fought–do not hate them as human beings. Also, the doers of evil, do not hate them, but hate the evil deed itself and fight the evil with what it deserves. Whoever changes to the better or does good inside or outside Iraq, give him clemency and open a new page for him because God forgives and loves whoever forgives out of willingness. Firmness is necessary if the situation calls for it. To be accepted by the people and the nation, one should base things on the law and must be fair and just. One should not be hostile on the b! asis of spitefulness and illegal pursuits.
You should know brothers, that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle against the invaders, and some of them volunteered for the legal defense of prisoners, including Saddam Hussein. Others revealed the scandals of the invaders and condemned them. Some even wept profusely and with noble sincerity when they said goodbye to us when they ended their duty. To this I call on you to be one loyal nation, kind to itself, to its nation, and to humanity, and sincere with others and with oneself.
Dear faithful people, I bid you farewell, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any honest believer.
God is great. God is great.
Long live our nation. Long live humanity in the light of security and peace, wherever it imparts justice and fairness.
Long live our great unyielding people. Long live Iraq. Long live Iraq. Long live Palestine.
Long live jihad and the mujahideen. Allah Akbar. And the wretched aggressors shall be repelled.
The President of the Republic and the Chief Commander of the Combatant Armed Forces
Nota bene: This speech with photo was posted at a radically progressive list-serv, with Saddam as a symbol of the “resistance.” Dupes of demopathy anyone?