July 22, 1979, was the day Iraq became a dictatorship headed by Saddam Hussein. In a terrifying purge of the Ba’ath party, Saddam rid himself of all opposition and secured his rule.
Just six days after seizing power by forcing out his cousin Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, Saddam summoned all of the Ba’ath party leaders to an auditorium near the presidential palace and had the secret police lock the doors behind them.
At the head of the podium stood Muhyi Abdel-Hussein, who had been the general secretary of the Revolutionary Command Council, the executive committee that ran Iraq. He accused himself of being involved in a Syrian plot against the regime along with other co-conspirators in that very room. One by one, as each name was read out loud, party members were plucked from the audience. Meanwhile, Saddam sat off to the side sitting nonchalant smoking a cigar like Al Pacino in Scarface.
In all, 68 of them were removed for alleged treason. 22 of them were subsequently sentenced to death by firing squad and the rest locked away. Here’s the actual footage from Saddam’s public purge.
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