Iraqi journalist Fatah al-Sheikh wept when he saw U.S. video of Saddam Hussein at a news conference Sunday.
“When I saw Saddam’s long beard, how he looked like a defeated man, it reminded me of the two years I spent in jail, how his agents tortured me in every way you could imagine,” he said.
Iraqi reporters at press conference with Paul Bremer mirrored the jubilation in the streets by jumping for joy when the U.S. administrator showed pictures of the man who had terrified Iraqis and ruthlessly crushed dissent for decades.
They punched the air and shouted but Sheikh just sobbed loudly.
Like millions of Iraqis Sheikh was relieved when U.S. forces toppled Saddam in April.
But he could not feel safe without clear proof of Saddam’s death or capture.
“Saddam put me in prison just because I was publishing an Islamic newspaper without official permission. I was in jail in 1989 and again in 1999. In the end I had to pay them off to get released,” said Sheikh.
Employees of the U.S. administration, who in an unusual move were allowed into the televised press conference, clapped and cheered Bremer.
Some reporters screamed “death to Saddam.” Others thanked the 600 U.S. soldiers who tracked down the once-feared leader who was hiding in a hole near his home town of Tikrit.