Saddam Hussein diary extracts published

Al-Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper, has published excerpts of Hussein's prison journal, in which he wrote, "My main concern is to avoid contracting a sexual disease in a place like this."


Saddam Hussein, the ousted Iraqi dictator hanged in December 2006 for charges of crimes against humanity, feared he would contract sexual diseases while he was in US custody, according to extracts from prison writings published in an Arab-language newspaper.

Saddam said he asked his prison guards not to put their washing on the same clothes line as his, fearing he could catch "young people's diseases," the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported, citing his journal.

"My main concern was to avoid contracting a sexual disease in a place like this, and AIDS," he said.

"What can the Americans and other invaders... bring to an (invaded) country apart from dangerous diseases?" Al-Hayat quoted Saddam as writing, without specifying how it obtained the documents.

Some of the texts were published in the daily in the form of dated letters, or poems written by Saddam, a prolific writer known to have penned several books and poems in his lifetime.

Iraqi lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi told AFP on Tuesday that the first of a three-volume book on the former president's life from childhood to his execution will be published later this year.

Dulaimi, who led Saddam's defence team, said the book will contain texts handwritten by Saddam and details from interviews he had with the former dictator while in prison.

Saddam was hanged on December 30, 2006, after an Iraqi court found him guilty of crimes against humanity, specifically for ordering the execution of 148 Shiites from the town of Dujail after an assassination attempt against him in 1982.

The most notorious Iraqi strongman of the late 20th century was sent to the gallows at the age of 69, three years after being captured by US troops who found him, long-haired, bearded and bedraggled, in a hole near his hometown of Tikrit.

Pictures of Saddam published by a British tabloid in May 2005 showed the iron-fisted dictator in prison, bare-chested in only his underwear and washing his clothes by hand in a bucket.

Dulaimi told AFP that Saddam took personal hygiene seriously and washed his own clothes in jail, adding however that the former dictator "never spoke to me about the disease (AIDS) or his fear" of it.

Saddam's mania for cleanliness was also revealed in the 2007 book "The Terrorist Watch" by US journalist Ronald Kessler who quoted FBI interrogator George Piro as saying he supplied Saddam with baby wipes to clean his hands and food.

Piro, who led Saddam's interrogation following his capture, also said the toppled president prayed five times a day in captivity, liked fine wine, Johnny Walker Blue Label scotch, and Cuban cigars.

According to an American nurse assigned to Saddam during his detention, he was an avid reader who loved to write during his time behind bars.

"He had a lot of stories that he had written. He had a pamphlet that he wrote in every day and then when time came to visit him he'd read things to me," Robert Ellis said following Saddam's hanging.

One of Saddam's attorneys claimed after his execution that the US military had confiscated the former Iraqi president's books as well as notes and poems he wrote in jail to screen them, and had promised to return them.

In his writings, Saddam also warned of the threat posed by neighbouring Shiite Iran to Iraq and the Arab world, saying it was more dangerous than Israel.

"The spread of the Persians... is more dangerous for Iraq than the Zionist entity, now and in the future," he said. "The Persians are similarly dangerous to the Arab nation, especially the Arab countries of the Gulf."

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