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Allah is on our side. That is why we will beat the aggressor.
— Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein was born on April 28, 1937 in Al-Awja, Iraq to a family of shepards. He joined the Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party in 1957 at the age of twenty and gradually rose through the ranks to become President of Iraq in July 1979. Within days of coming to power, Hussein had 68 members of his own party arrested for "disloyalty", with 22 sentenced to death and executed by firing squad. By the end of the month, hundreds of high-ranking Ba'ath Party members had been executed.

At the same time in neighboring Iran, the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution, giving way to an Islamic republic led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Saddam, who already had a bitter enmity with Khomeini, feared that radical Islamic ideas- hostile to his secular rule- were rapidly spreading in his own country among the majority Shiite population (Hussein himself was a Sunni Muslim). This led to the invasion of Iran and the eight-year long Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Despite Iraq's use of chemical weapons, the war ended in a stalemate and cost Iraq billions of dollars. Following the war, Hussein ordered the Halabja poison gas attack, wiping out between 3,200 and 5,000 Iraqi Kurds.

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded its wealthy neighbor Kuwait, sparking the Persian Gulf War. Saddam Hussein remained in power until the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq, when he was captured in December. He was put on trial for crimes against humanity, was convicted on November 5, 2006, and hanged on December 30.