BAGHDAD, Iraq – Saddam Hussein urged Iraqis to embrace “brotherly coexistence” and not to hate U.S.-led foreign troops in a goodbye letter posted on a Web site Wednesday, a day after Iraq’s highest court upheld his death sentence and ordered him hanged within 30 days.
A top government official, meanwhile, said Saddam’s execution could proceed without the approval of Iraq’s president, meaning there were no more legal obstacles to sending the deposed dictator to the gallows.
One of Saddam’s attorneys, Issam Ghazzawi, confirmed to the Associated Press in Jordan that the Internet letter was authentic, saying it was written by Saddam on Nov. 5 – the day he was convicted by an Iraqi tribunal for ordering the 1982 killings of 148 Shiite Muslims in Dujail.
“I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking,” said the letter, which was written in Arabic and translated by the AP.
“I also call on you not to hate the people of the other countries that attacked us,” it added, referring to the invasion that toppled his regime nearly four years ago.
Against the backdrop of sectarian killings between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Saddam urged his countrymen to “remember that God has enabled you to become an example of love, forgiveness and brotherly coexistence.”
But he also voiced support for the Sunni Arab-dominated insurgency, saying: “Long live jihad and the mujahedeen.” He urged Iraqis to be patient and rely on God’s help in fighting “against the unjust nations.”
Violence struck Baghdad on Wednesday, with a car bomb killing eight civilians and wounding 10 near an Iraqi army checkpoint. Four civilians died in a mortar attack in a Shiite neighborhood, and police found the bodies of 51 apparent victims of sectarian killings.
The U.S. command reported three American military deaths Wednesday, bringing the U.S. death toll for December to 93 in one of the bloodiest months for U.S. troops this year. Some 105 soldiers and Marines were killed in October, according to an AP count.
“This has been a difficult month for coalition forces, and the month is not over yet,” a military spokesman, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, said.