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But even now, in his last moments, he maintained his old defiance.
Saddam Hussein moments before his death Spurning the use of a black hood over his head, he shouted 'Allah is great', as three masked executioners placed the rope around his throat.
The platform dropped and there was an audible crack, indicating that his neck was broken. Saddam repeated the name mockingly, adding: 'Do you consider bravery?
One of modern history's most ruthless tyrants was dead at last. ' But despite the hopes and jubilation of his enemies, Saddam's thoughts in those final moments are unlikely to have been of Moqtada, but of another much younger man - one born only two years before himself: the tragic last King of Iraq, whose brutal murder 50 years ago this summer not only shocked and horrified the world, but haunted and obsessed Saddam for the rest of his days.
Only moments before the end, on December 30, 2006, Shi'ite observers at the execution had hurled sectarian insults at Saddam (a Sunni), taunting him with the name of his great antagonist, the radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Sadr. Last week, BBC2 began screening a four-part drama series, House Of Saddam, charting the Iraqi dictator's journey from ambitious young law student to all-powerful tyrant to the bedraggled, long-bearded tramp captured by American forces in December 2003.