DEARBORN, Mich. – Members of Michigan's large Iraqi community on Tuesday were elated by news of the deaths of Saddam Hussein (search)'s sons, but alongside their joy was a measure of regret that the two wouldn't stand trial.
"I, my children, were ecstatic about the news," said Qasim Al-Hashimi, 40, sitting in the Karbalaa Islamic Center with his four boys. "Who would have believed that this could happen?"
But Al-Hashimi, like many in the center watching Arabic news broadcasts, said he would have preferred that the two be taken alive.
"Their crimes need to be exposed to the Iraqi people and to the Arab world," he said.
"The Arab media still portray them as heroes, not the murderous criminals they really are," said Al-Hashimi, showing deep scars around his wrists, which he said were the result of torture when he was imprisoned for opposing Saddam's regime.
Saddam's sons Uday (search) and Qusay (search) were killed in a six-hour firefight Tuesday when U.S. forces stormed a villa in Mosul, Iraq, a senior American general said. They were Nos. 2 and 3 on the U.S. list of 55 top former Iraqi officials wanted by Washington.
Qusay controlled the military forces of the once-vaunted Republican Guard and was expected to take over for his father. Uday, the elder brother, had a reputation for brutality and flamboyance as head of information and propaganda in Saddam's Iraq.
Iraqis constitute a large part of the estimated 300,000 people of Middle Eastern descent in greater Detroit. Nearly 30,000, or 30 percent, of Dearborn's population claimed Arab ancestry in the latest census.
Al-Hashimi's comments about the Arab media were echoed by Imam Hisham Al-Husseni, whose mosque is used both as a religious gathering place and a community center.
"Some of the Arabs who misunderstand Saddam may feel sad. But we want to reassure them that this is good news for Iraq and the stability of the region," he said.
Al-Husseni said the death of Saddam's sons and even the missing leader himself may bring about psychological and social comfort, but it won't have a big effect on the country's political structure.
"The political health and stability of Iraq will depend on how much political freedom the Iraqi people and the governing council will have," Al-Husseni said.
Long-term political concerns aside, Iraqis in Dearborn (search) embraced Monday's news.
"I hope that this is a first step upon which the Iraqi people can build some semblance of normalcy," Shanwa Al-Ghazali said.