Friday, August 27, 2004

"Killing an Arab"

The men who shot Uday Hussein



First inside account of a 1996 ambush that signaled active Iraqi resistance.

By Peter Ford | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

SHATRA, IRAQ – As Salman Sharif gave the order to open fire, he was certain he was going to die himself. You did not try to assassinate Uday Hussein, the former Iraqi president's elder son and heir-apparent, at point blank range and expect to get away with it.
"We knew we had a 1 percent chance of returning alive," Mr. Sharif says today, sitting crosslegged on a carpet-strewn floor as, for the first time, he recounts to a foreign newspaper the daring attack he led. "Strict security made this kind of operation almost impossible."
But after months of careful planning, the four man hit squad drawn from a shadowy resistance group was determined to go ahead. As Uday Hussein drove his golden Porsche slowly up a busy street in one of Baghdad's smartest districts, just after dark on Dec. 12 1996, two gunmen responded to Sharif's command with a hail of bullets from their AK-47 rifles.

"We were sure we had killed him," Sharif recalls. "We fired 50 rounds into that car."

In fact, he discovered later, Uday had been hit 17 times but survived. He was crippled for the rest of his life, and - according to popular belief - rendered impotent (a special kind of justice, Sharif said, because of the elder Hussein son's reputation for brutal womanizing), but he lived.

Still, the unprecedented assassination attempt on a member of the ruling Baath Party's inner circle sent an important message. "We showed that the Islamic resistance could reach any target at any time," Sharif says. "And we refuted before the whole world the regime's claim that there was no resistance inside Iraq."

Mr. Sharif, who was 27 at the time he mounted the operation that sent shockwaves through the Iraqi leadership, looks an unlikely freedom fighter. Studious and methodical, peering intently through a large pair of spectacles, he resembled a provincial primary school teacher more than a guerrilla hit-man. But Sharif's tale offers a rare window into how the Iraqi resistance movement operated during Hussein's reign
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"Killing An Arab"

Standing on the beach
With a gun in my hand
Staring at the sea
Staring at the sand
Staring down the barrel
At the arab on the ground
I can see his open mouth
But I hear no sound

I'm alive
I'm dead
I'm the stranger
Killing an arab

I can turn
And walk away
Or I can fire the gun
Staring at the sky
Staring at the sun
Whichever I chose
It amounts to the same
Absolutely nothing

I'm alive
I'm dead
I'm the stranger
Killing an arab

I feel the steel butt jump
Smooth in my hand
Staring at the sea
Staring at the sand
Staring at myself
Reflected in the eyes
Of the dead man on the beach
The dead man on the beach

I'm alive
I'm dead
I'm the stranger
Killing an arab

-The Cure