Image: Ali Hassan al-Majid
Darko Vojinovic  /  Pool via AP file
Saddam Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid was convicted Jan. 17 of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death.
msnbc.com news services
updated 1/25/2010 11:41:11 AM ET 2010-01-25T16:41:11

Iraq on Monday executed Ali Hassan al-Majid, Saddam Hussein's notorious cousin known as "Chemical Ali," for the poison gas attacks that killed more than 5,000 Kurds in 1988.

News of the hanging came shortly after three suicide car bombs struck downtown Baghdad . It was not immediately clear whether the attacks were linked to the execution of al-Majid.

"The death sentence against Ali Hassan al-Majid has been carried out today," government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said.

Majid earned his nickname because of his use of poison gas. He had received four death sentences, the last around a week ago for an attack on the Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja in which thousands were killed.

Dabbagh said in the statement that Majid was not subjected to any abuse during the execution, unlike the insults heaped on Saddam by Shiite Muslim observers when he was hanged in December 2006.

"Everyone abided by the government's instructions and the convicted was not subjected to any breach, chanting, abuse words, or insults," Dabbagh said.

Feared by many
It was not clear if Majid was hanged before or after a series of coordinated suicide bombings close to well-known hotels in Baghdad in which dozens of people died.

Majid had a reputation for ruthlessness in crushing Saddam's opponents that won him widespread notoriety. Many Iraqis feared him more than the leader himself.

He was captured in August 2003, five months after U.S. forces invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam.

He was sentenced to hang in June 2007 for his role in a military campaign against ethnic Kurds, codenamed Anfal, that lasted from February to August 1988.

Majid also received a death sentence in December 2008 for his role in crushing one Shiite revolt after the 1991 Gulf War, and another in March 2009 for his involvement in killing and displacing Shiite Muslims in 1999.

His final death sentence came on Jan. 17 for Halabja, when the Iraqi army used poison gas against Kurds. Around 5,000 people were believed to have been killed.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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