Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti (17 February 1951 – 15 January 2007) (Arabic: برزان إبراهيم الحسن التكريتي), also known as Barazan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Barasan Ibrahem Alhassen and Barzan Hassan, was one of three half-brothers of Saddam Hussein, and a leader of the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi intelligence service. Despite falling out of favour with Saddam at one time, he was believed to have been a close presidential adviser at the time of his capture by U.S. forces. On 15 January 2007, al-Tikriti was hanged for crimes against humanity. He was decapitated by the hangman’s rope after errors were made calculating his body weight and length of drop from the platform.
Al-Tikriti was a leading figure in the Mukhabarat, the intelligence service that performed the role of secret police from the 1970s, and later took over as director. During his time in the secret police, al-Tikriti played a key role in the Iraqi regime’s execution of opponents at home and assassinations abroad. He was also known for his ruthlessness and brutality in purging the Iraqi military of anyone seen as disloyal.
Al-Tikriti became Iraq’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva—including the UN Human Rights Committee—in 1989. He was in Geneva for almost a decade, during which he is believed to have managed clandestine accounts for Saddam’s overseas fortune. This task was then taken over by a network of foreign brokers, since the Iraqi President had decided that no one in Iraq could be trusted with the task.
U.S. officials characterized al-Tikriti as a member of what they called “Saddam’s Dirty Dozen”, responsible for torture and mass murder in Iraq. Al-Tikriti was the five of clubs (queen of hearts according to CNN) in the U.S military’smost-wanted Iraqi playing cards.
Al-Tikriti was among the leadership figures U.S. forces targeted during the Iraq War. In April 2003, warplanes dropped six satellite-guided bombs on a building in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, where he was thought to be. U.S. Army Special Forces captured al-Tikriti alive on 17 April 2003; the news was publicly confirmed late summer 2003, with al-Tikriti surrounded by a large entourage of bodyguards in Baghdad. He was turned over to Iraq’s Interim Government on 30 June 2004, and arraigned on 1 July 2004.
Al-Tikriti’s trial started on 19 October 2005. He was a defendant in the Iraq Special Tribunal‘s Al-Dujail trial, and Abd al-Semd al-Husseini was his defense counsel. In the first stage of the trial, al-Tikriti stood before a five-judge panel for the Dujail Massacre. He was charged for crimes against humanity, simultaneously with seven other former high officials (Taha Yassin Ramadan, Saddam Hussein, Awad Hamed al-Bandar, Abdullah Kadhem Roweed Al-Musheikhi, Ali Daeem Ali, Mohammed Azawi Ali and Mizher Abdullah Roweed Al-Musheikhi). They were said to have ordered and overseen the killings, in July 1982, of more than 140 Shiite men from Dujail, a village 35 miles north of Baghdad. The men were allegedly killed in retribution after an 8 July 1982 attack on the presidential motorcade as it passed through the village. It was alleged that, in addition to the killings, hundreds of women and children from the town were jailed for years in desert internment camps, and that date palm groves, which sustained the local economy and were the families’ livelihood, were destroyed.
During the first court session on 19 October 2005, al-Tikriti pleaded not guilty. During his trial, he became known for his angry outbursts in court and was ejected on several occasions.
In the weeks following the first audience, serious security concerns for the defense team of Saddam and the other accused became apparent. On 21 October 2005, 36 hours after the first hearing, a group of unidentified armed men dragged one of the defense attorneys from his office in east Baghdad and shot him dead. A few days later, a second lawyer was killed in a drive-by shooting, and a third, injured in that attack, subsequently fled Iraq for sanctuary in Qatar.
As a result, calls for the trial to be held abroad were heard. The defense lawyers, supported by the Iraqi Bar Association, imposed a boycott on the trial until their security concerns were met with specific measures. A few days before the trial was to resume, the defense team announced that it had accepted offers of protection from Iraqi and U.S. officials and would appear in court on 28 November 2005. The agreement is said to have included the same level of protection offered to the Iraqi judges and prosecutors, with measures such as armored cars and teams of bodyguards.
After a short court session on 28 November 2005, during which some testimony regarding the killings in Dujail was presented, Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin ordered a one-week adjournment until 5 December, to grant the defense teams time to find new counsel.
On 12 March 2006, the prosecutor announced that if Saddam Hussein and his seven co-defendants were sentenced to death in the Dujail case, the sentence would be carried out as soon as possible. Thus, the other cases for which they were indicted would not be heard in court. On 19 June 2006, the prosecutor asked the court, in his closing arguments, that the death penalty be imposed upon al-Tikriti, Saddam, and Ramadan.
On 5 November 2006, al-Tikriti was sentenced to death by hanging.