Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known as 'Chemical Ali', was executed in Iraq on Monday, having been found guilty of crimes against humanity. The announcement of his death coincided with three suicide bombings in Baghdad that killed at least 37 people.
It was only eight days ago that al-Majid, a close cousin of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, received a fourth death sentence.
While al-Majid was, as the Telegraph reports, instrumental in suppressing a 1991 uprising by Shias in Iraq, an uprising widely thought to have enjoyed U.S support in some shape or form, it appears to be his actions against the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq that earned him his notoriety.
According to Al Jazeera, in addition to his actions against Iraq's Shia rebels in 1991, a rebellion which followed Iraq's defeat in the Gulf War of 1990-91 and the liberation of Kuwait, 68-year-old al-Majid also received one of his four death sentences for the killing and displacement of Shias in 1999.
But it is the massacre of over 5,000 Kurds, many of them women and children, in the town of Halabja in 1988 that led to the most recent death sentence handed down to al-Majid. During the attack on Halabja Iraqi jets sprayed the town with mustard gas and nerve gas.
The Telegraph notes that the campaign against Peshmerga rebels in Iraqi Kurdistan directed by al-Majid, a Sunni Muslim like Saddam Hussein and a leading figure in the Ba'ath Party, allegedly led to the deaths of 100,000 non-combatants.
Known as al-Anfal, or sometimes Operation Anfal, the campaign lasted for three years from 1986 through 1989, although 1988 is the year in which most of what has commonly been called a genocide took place.
Speaking to Al Jareeza regarding the death of al-Majid, Al-Nasr Dureid, a candidate in the March 7 parliamentary elections for the secular, non-sectarian Iraqi National Movement, said:He was one of the biggest criminals of the previous regime and we had to deal with him sooner or later. Most Iraqis believe that Ali Hassan al-Majid was a criminal and had to pay for what he did to the Iraqi people. I dont think that even the most extremist of people in Iraq believe that Ali Hassan al-Majid believed any mercy of any kind
Following his first three death sentences "legal wrangling" delayed the execution of al-Majid, the "King of Spades" in the U.S. military's Personality Identification Playing Cards.
As for the suicide bombings at three hotels in the Iraqi capital Baghdad - the death toll is currently put at 37, with 104 people injured - the Associated Press states that Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the government in Iraq, has linked the attacks to supporters of the former regime of Saddam Hussein.
However, Mr al-Dabbagh, who issued the statement confirming the execution of "Chemical Ali", reportedly did not say that the blasts were definitely revenge for the execution of Ali Hassan al-Majid.
Indeed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has linked the attacks at hotels frequented by Western journalists and businessmen to the March elections in Iraq, talking of "continued efforts by the terrorists, by al-Qaida in particular, to try to upend the commitment of the Iraqi people to a democratic future".