Saddam trial 88.
(photo credit: )
Saddam Hussein has told his countrymen that Iraq's "liberation is at hand" and called on insurgents to be merciful with their enemy, according to an open letter obtained Monday.
In the three-page letter, dictated to his lawyers, Saddam also urges Iraqis to set aside sectarian and ethnic differences and focus instead on driving the US forces out of Iraq.
"The hour of liberation is at hand, God willing, but remember that your near-term goal is confined to freeing your country from the forces of occupation and their followers and not to be preoccupied in settling scores," Saddam writes in the Arabic-language letter, which is dated Sunday and signed by "Saddam Hussein al-Majid, President and commander in chief of the holy warrior armed forces."
Saddam says he is resorting to the letter, addressed to all Iraqis, because "my chances to express my opinion are limited" in detention.
Saddam's chief defense lawyer, Khalil al-Dulaimi, said the former president dictated the letter during a four-hour meeting in a Baghdad detention center on Saturday. Al-Dulaimi typed the letter on Sunday.
Al-Dulaimi said that during the meeting, they discussed Saddam's two current trials. In the one, he is charged with killing of 148 Shiites from the town of Dujail in the 1980s, and in the other he is charged with genocide against the Kurds during a military offensive in 1987-88, code-named Operation Anfal.
The lawyer declined to be more specific about the talks, which were attended by Saddam's other lawyers, including former US attorney general Ramsey Clark.
Iraqis were "living the most difficult period in history because of the occupation, killing, destruction and looting," Saddam says in the letter.
Responding to fears that Iraq is on the verge of breaking apart, Saddam writes that he yearns for a "great unified Iraq, which is not split by any color, segment or allegation."
He expresses pain over the extent of the fighting between the country's majority Shiite population and its Sunni minority, the backbone of Iraq's insurgency.
"My heart fails me," he writes, referring to what he regards as the foreigners' success in "sowing divisions among us."
"This was never a real reason for division in the past," he adds.
He urges Sunnis to forgive their Iraqi opponents, including those who helped the US forces track down his two sons - Odai and Qussai - who were killed in a battle with American soldiers in the northern city of Mosul in 2003.
"When you achieve victory," he tells the insurgents, "remember you are God's soldiers and, therefore, you must show genuine forgiveness and put aside revenge over the spilled blood of your sons and brothers, including the sons of Saddam Hussein."
Saddam proceeds to invoke Islam's Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ to stress that the insurgents must forgive.
"You must remember what the prophets taught us, including the two honorable ones, Muhammad and Jesus, the son of Mary. Both forgave and turned to God, beseeching him to forgive those whom they had forgiven, including those who had hurt them."
He also urges the insurgents to chose their targets carefully.
"I call on you, brothers and comrades in the brave resistance, to apply justice and righteousness in your jihad (holy war), and refrain from being drawn into recklessness, God forbid."
He warns that by employing excessive force, the insurgents stand to alienate public opinion.
"You shouldn't attack for the sake of attacking when there is an opportunity to carry a gun, but only when the situation dictates that," he writes.
The verdict and possible sentences against Saddam and seven co-defendants in the Dujail case will be handed down on Nov. 5, the chief investigating judge Raid Juhi said Monday.
Saddam's genocide trial against the Kurds began on Aug. 21. The trial, of which 15 sessions have been held so far, is due to resume on Tuesday.