The Significance of the “Death” of Ali Hassan al-Majid

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Ibrahim al-Marashi
April 9, 2003

Ali Hassan al-Majid is Saddam’s paternal cousin, and held various roles in Iraq’s security apparatus. His possible death in Basra on April 6 will have significant ramifications for Iraq’s ability to resist the US/UK forces in the south of Iraq.

In 1980, Saddam appointed ‘Ali Hassan al-Majid as director of the General Security Directorate to instill the ideology of the Ba’ath Party into the agency. In 1987, Saddam appointed ‘Ali Hassan al-Majid as the head of the Ba’ath Party’s Northern Bureau to suppress the Kurdish insurrection (thereafter he earned his odious title, “Chemical Ali”). As Secretary of the Ba’ath Party Northern Bureau, ‘Ali Hassan al-Majid was given sweeping government sanction to suppress rebellious Kurdish activity from 1987 to 1988, known as the Anfal campaign. A captured Iraqi document available on the Iraq Research and Documentation Project website ( reveals the brutal nature in which al-Majid suppressed the Kurds during this campaign.

One Arab Nation With an Eternal Message
The Ba’ath Arab Socialist Party
Northern Organization Bureau Command
Date 22 Aug 1987

-Confidential and Personal-
To: First Corps Command
Subject: Execution of Criminals

Comradely Salute,
The valiant comrade, ‘Ali Hassan al-Majid, Commander of the Northern Organization
Bureau, has commented as follows on your aforementioned letter:

“We do not object to the decapitation of traitors. But it would have been
preferable had you also sent them to Security for the purpose of interrogating
them. [Security personnel] could have found with them other significant
information that could have been useful, prior to their execution.”
Kindly review…Respectfully

Tahir Tawfiq
Secretary of Northern Affairs Committee

The role of ‘Ali Hassan al-Majid, (“Chemical Ali”) was instrumental in the process of absorbing Kuwait as Iraq’s “19th province.” As a member of the Ba’ath Regional Command, he turned Kuwait into his fiefdom, using many of the tactics he employed as the architect of the Anfal campaign in Iraqi Kurdistan. While technically he ruled Kuwait as a military governor, officially he administered the province in his capacity as a member of the Iraqi Regional Command of the Ba’ath Party. Despite the differences in titles, Saddam granted ‘Ali Hassan al-Majid the same all encompassing powers he had when he was charged with suppressing the Kurdish insurrection in the north of Iraq.

In November 1990, he left Kuwait to become the Iraqi Minister of the Interior. In this position, he brutally suppressed the Shi’a uprising that took place in the south of Iraq in March 1991. He was also believed to be responsible for the death of Hussein Kamil al-Majid in February 1996, the former Iraqi head of the Special Security Organization, who defected to Jordan and then returned to Iraq. Hussein Kamil was ‘Ali Hassan al-Majid’s nephew.

Prior to the commencement of the current crisis with Iraq, Saddam divided Iraq into four military zones. ‘Ali Hassan al-Majid was charged with defending the southern military zone. His possible death in an attack on his home in Basra would indicate that the Iraqi regime has lost a key figure in its security apparatus.

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