June 24, 2003


BAGHDAD, Iraq – You can find just about anything at the Baab al Sharjee market in the center of Baghdad. Air conditioners, electric fans, radios, satellite dishes. And short videos that chronicle the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein.

One video – “Saddam’s Crimes and His Followers: Mukhabarat Torturing” – shows men lying on the ground as their legs are tied to a stick in the air. They writhe in pain as military officers whip the soles of their bare feet. Another shows a grenade being strapped to the chest of a blindfolded man. A few minutes later, he’s blown up.

“Thousands of people have bought them,” said Taha Adnan, 16, a vendor in the market.

The world long has known that Saddam used chemical weapons against the Kurds and brutally repressed Shiite Muslims, has known of his secret police and torture chambers. But until his regime disintegrated in the face of a U.S. onslaught, it seldom heard the cries of his victims or their survivors.

Now they are starting to tell their stories.

And they’re not very pretty stories.

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