PAUL EEDLE, ITV News Correspondent: It's April 1989, and
Saddam Hussein is visiting the north of Iraq,
Kurdistan. Channel 4 News has obtained this
exclusive footage taken by one of the Iraqi president's personal cameramen. It
shows Saddam looking on top of the world and Kurds desperate to reach him to
hand him petitions.
This woman has swum across the river with her plea in a
plastic bag. We don't know exactly what -- maybe a son missing, husband
arrested. Saddam graciously signs. He's father of his people, approachable. "Here,
let me help you with your cloak."
There was a reason for Saddam's broad smile and the Kurds
desperation to ask favors: The year before, Saddam's army had swept through Kurdistan in a campaign against Kurdish rebels, which
killed anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 men, women and children.
Saada Ali lost eight members of her family: her husband, two
sons, her daughter-in-law, and five grandchildren. Her house was bulldozed and
her livestock killed. With all her immediate family dead, she's never been able
to rebuild her farm and now lives far from her village with an elderly
brother-in-law. She blames it all on Saddam.
SAADA ALI (through translator): Just like he destroyed my
life and killed my relatives, my hope and wish is that he ends up dead and
buried, as well. When I see these photos, I just cry. It's just a piece of
paper. I can never see the boys or talk to them again.
PAUL EEDLE: This was the Anfal campaign. Anfal means
"spoils of war," and it's a chapter in the Koran about defeating
From February to September 1988, eight military operations
attacked areas where guerrillas fighting for Kurdish independence were
strongest. The campaign was led by Saddam's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, now on
trial alongside him.
Thousands of Kurds died in their villages, thousands more in
prison camps far away from Kurdistan, buried
in mass graves only uncovered after Saddam was overthrown in 2003. Chemical
Ali's forces are accused of attacking villages with mustard gas and nerve gas
on at least 40 occasions.
Channel 4 News' Iraqi news team reached Qeitoul, a village
at the heart of the third Anfal operation. It was a tough three-hour drive from
the regional capital, Sulaimaniya, across unmade roads to a farming community
that's still dirt poor.
Hussein Abdullah Karim was a teenager when the Anfal hit
Qeitoul; now he's the prayer leader of the mosque.
HUSSEIN ABDULLAH KARIM (through translator): On the morning
of 9th of April, 1988, the people woke up and found the army all over these
hills. There were seven helicopters. The people started realizing what was
going on. The tanks arrived at the village by 11:00 a.m. The villagers started
fleeing. The army then started burning and destroying the village.