CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
 Anchors & Reporters | Contact Us | 
 Hosted by Paula Zahn
John Roberts
Which member of the British royal family do you admire the most?
Queen Elizabeth II
Prince Charles
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Prince William
Prince Harry
The corgis
or View Results
Send your questions and comments to People in the News.
Sign up to receive an e-mail from People in the News.
People in the News

AIRS: Saturday 11 a.m. & Sunday 7 p.m. additional times
Saddam Hussein

April 28, 1937
Saddam Hussein is born in Tikrit province, a rural area in northern central Iraq about 100 miles north of Baghdad.

A secondary school student, Saddam is arrested for his political activities and serves six months in jail. He also marries Sajida, his first cousin; the couple go on to have two sons and three daughters.

February 25, 1960
An Iraqi court sentences Saddam to death in absentia for his role in the Kassem assassination plot.

February 8, 1963
Saddam returns to Iraq following the Ramadan Revolution in which Baath party members overthrow Kassem. But after six months of unrest, a fresh military coup results in the ascension of Abdul Salam Arif as Iraq's ruler.

September 1966
Still in prison, Saddam is elected deputy secretary general of the Baath party.

Mounting the first tank to besiege the presidential palace, Saddam participates in a coup that leads to the ascension of fellow Baath party member Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr. Saddam is personally put "in charge of a swift operation to purge the new government ... of certain of the old regime's figures," according to the website of Iraq's Mission to the United Nations.

Saddam leads the process of nationalizing oil companies in Iraq.

After years of consolidating his power, Saddam takes over as president (with al- Bakr officially stepping down due to illness). Saddam overhauls the ruling Baath party, reportedly executing up to 400 members in an attempt to strengthen his power base, weaken his enemies and instill fear in those who might oppose him.

The United Nations reports that Iraq used mustard gas and nerve agents on Iranian soldiers in 1981 and 1984.

Iraqi troops invade and occupy neighboring Kuwait in August. An international coalition, led by the United States, forms and threatens to remove Saddam's forces from Kuwait.

The "oil-for-food" program is implemented through the United Nations, with Iraq selling its oil in exchange for food and other humanitarian supplies. Saddam is re-elected as Iraq's president.

The United Nations withdraws its weapons inspectors from Iraq, claiming Saddam has made it impossible for them to determine whether the country has chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, which the 1991 cease-fire agreement prohibits. U.S. and British forces conduct four days of airstrikes. The U.S. Congress also passes the Iraq Liberation Act, which calls for toppling Saddam's regime.

Shortly after moving to Baghdad, Saddam joins the Arab Baath Socialist Party, a group founded in Syria in the 1940s and initially dedicated to secularism, socialism and pan-Arab unionism.

Saddam takes part in a failed assassination attempt on Gen. Karim Kassem, who became Iraq's prime minister in 1958 in a military-led coup. Saddam is shot in the leg during the botched attempt, but he safely flees Iraq for Syria and Egypt.

Saddam completes his secondary school studies in Egypt and enrolls at the College of Law in Cairo.

October 14, 1964
With the Baath party having lost its grip on power, Saddam is arrested again.

Saddam escapes from jail, according to the official website of Iraq's Mission to the United Nations.

Saddam is officially named vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, the internal political organization that shapes most Iraqi policies, making him effectively the second in command in al-Bakr's government.

Saddam plays a critical role in devising and carrying out the Kurdish autonomy law. The decree, implemented unilaterally, grants limited freedoms to Kurds in northern Iraq. The Kurdistan Democratic Pary rejects the directive, leading the Baghdad government to launch a bloody assault on Iraqi Kurds.

A series of border skirmishes erupt into a full-fledged war between Iraq and Iran.

The Iran-Iraq War ends in a stalemate. The same year, Saddam's military attacks Kurdish areas in northern Iraq, killing 50,000 to 100,000 people with chemical weapons, mass executions and forced relocations, according to the U.S. State Department.

A U.S.-led coalition forces Iraqi troops out of Kuwait but stops short of challenging Saddam's grip on power. Saddam agrees to a cease-fire that requires an end to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program, and other measures to economic sanctions and military no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq.

Iraqi forces, allied with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, launch a campaign into the northern no-fly zone. The United States retaliates with missile strikes against air defense targets in southern Iraq.

The war of words between Saddam and U.S. President Bush escalates, threatening to erupt into armed conflict. Bush calls Iraq, along with Iran and North Korea, part of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address in January and frequently voices support for a "regime change." Saddam, meanwhile, decries Bush's policies and warns "the path of blood can only lead to more blood" in an October speech.

© 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.