The former national security advisor, who oversaw Saddam’s 2006 execution, said he remained strong until the end, and never expressed any regret.
“A criminal? True. A killer? True. A butcher? True. But he was strong until the end.
“I received him (Saddam) at the door. No one entered with us — no foreigners, and no Americans,” Rubaie said in an interview at his office in the Kadhimiyah area of north Baghdad, near the prison where the execution took place seven years ago.
“He was wearing a jacket and a white shirt, normal and relaxed, and I didn’t see any signs of fear.
“Of course, some people want me to say that he collapsed or that he was drugged, but these facts are for history,” Rubaie said.
“I didn’t hear any regret from him, I didn’t hear any request for mercy from God from him, or request for pardon.
“A person who is about to die usually says, ‘God, forgive my sins — I am coming to you.’ But he never said any of that,” Rubaie said.
“When I brought him, he was handcuffed and holding a Koran,” said Rubaiek.
“I took him to the judge’s room, where he read the list of indictments, as Saddam repeated: ‘Death to America! Death to Israel! Long live Palestine! Death to the Persian magi!”
Rubaie then took Saddam to the room in which he was to die.
“He stopped, looked at the gallows, then he looked me up and down… and said: ‘Doctor, this is for men’.”
When it was time for Saddam to mount the gallows, his legs were still bound, so Rubaie and others had to drag him up the steps.
Just before he was hanged, witnesses taunted him with shouts of “Long live Imam Mohammed Baqr al-Sadr!” and “Moqtada! Moqtada!” — References to an opponent of Saddam who was killed during his rule.
Saddam replied: “Is this manhood?”
Rubaie said he pulled the lever to hang Saddam, but it did not work. Another person he did not name then pulled it a second time, killing him.
Just before he was hanged, Saddam began to recite the Muslim testament of faith.
“I testify that there is no god but God, and Mohammed…,” he began, but he was hanged before he could say the final words, “is the messenger of God.”
Rubaie went under the gallows to retrieve the body, which he said was put in a white bag and placed on a stretcher.
The body was then transported in an American helicopter from the prison where he was hanged to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s residence in the heavily-fortified Green Zone.
The helicopter was crowded with people, Rubaie said, so the body had to be put on the floor, and the doors of the helicopter were left open during the flight, as the stretcher was too long to fit otherwise.
“I remember clearly that the sun was starting to rise” as the helicopter flew over Baghdad, Rubaie said.
Rubaie said Saddam’s execution was set in motion after a video conference between Maliki and then US president George Bush, who asked the Iraqi prime minister: “What are you going to do with this criminal?”
Maliki replied: “We hang him.”
Bush gave him a thumbs up, signalling his approval.