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Iraq Executes 'Chemical Ali'

Ali Hassan al-Majid on trial in Baghdad in 2007
Ali Hassan al-Majid, one of the most notorious members of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's former regime, was executed by hanging today.

The announcement was made by Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

Majid, a cousin of the late Saddam Hussein and former Iraqi commander, had been sentenced to death four times for genocide and crimes against humanity.

He earned the name "Chemical Ali" for ordering poisonous-gas attacks in a campaign that killed tens of thousands of Kurds in the 1980s.

Majid was the "King of Spades" in the pack of cards of most-wanted Iraqis issued by the U.S. military following the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

U.S.-led forces tried unsuccessfully to assassinate him in April that year with an air strike on a villa in southern Iraq.

He eluded them, but was captured in August of that year.

Gas Attack

Majid is probably best-known for the 1988 Halabjah attack, when Iraqi jets sprayed the mostly Kurdish town with mustard gas and the nerve agents Tabun, Sarin, and VX.

It is believed that about 5,000 people died, most of them women and children, in what is thought to be the deadliest-ever gas attack carried out against civilians.

The gas attack was part of a military campaign against the Kurds code-named "Anfal" that lasted from February to August of 1988.

Majid was convicted in June 2007 for his role in that campaign -- the first of four death sentences.

In December 2008, he also received a death sentence for his role in the crushing of a 1991 Shi'ite uprising following the 1991 Gulf War.

Then in March 2009, Majid was sentenced to death for the 1999 killings of Shi'ite Muslims in the Sadr City district of Baghdad and in the central shrine city of Al-Najaf.

And on January 17 this year, Majid was sentenced to death for ordering the Halabjah attack.

News of his hanging came after three large explosions rocked central Baghdad today, killing at least 36 people and injuring more than 70. It was not immediately clear whether the attacks were linked to Majid's execution.

compiled from news agency reports