BAGHDAD, Iraq – In a letter posted on the Internet Wednesday in the name of Saddam Hussein, the former dictator called on Iraqis not to hate the invaders of their country.
The letter, which was authenticated by one of Saddam's lawyers, appeared to be what the fallen leader would have said if he had been given an opportunity to address the court on the day he was condemned to death last month.
"I call on you not to hate because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking," Saddam said in the letter published on a Website known to represent the Baath Party.
"I also call on you not to hate the people of the other countries that attacked us and who separated the people from those who govern them," Saddam wrote.
In this respect the letter contradicts a Baath Party statement published on the same Web site earlier Wednesday, in which the party threatened to retaliate against the United States if Saddam is executed.
In Amman, a member of Saddam Hussein's legal team, Issam Ghazzawi, confirmed to The Associated Press that the letter was authentic, saying it was written by Saddam on Nov. 5 — the day he was condemned to death for ordering the killing of 148 people, including children, who had been arrested after an attempt to assassinate him in the northern town of Dujail in 1982.
Ghazzawi said the letter was released on Tuesday — when an Iraqi appeal upheld the death sentence — and published on the Baath Party's Web site on Wednesday.
"You should know that among the aggressors, there are people who support your struggle against the invaders, and some of them volunteered for the legal defense of prisoners, including Saddam Hussein," Saddam wrote in a clear reference to the U.S. attorney Ramsay Clark, who joined his defense team. "Others revealed the scandals of the aggressors and condemned them.
"Some of these people wept profusely when they said goodbye to me," Saddam wrote.
The deposed leader said he was writing the letter because his lawyers had told him that the court would give him an opportunity to say a final word.
"But that court and its chief judge did not give us the chance to say a word, and issued its verdict without explanation and read out the sentence — dictated by the invaders — without presenting the evidence," Saddam wrote.
"Dear faithful people," Saddam added, "I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any honest believer."
Earlier Wednesday, the same Web site published a statement in which the Baath threatened to attack the United States and its interests if Saddam is executed.
"The Baath and the resistance [fighters] are determined to retaliate, with all means and everywhere, to harm America and its interests if it commits this crime," the statement added, referring to the execution that the appeal court has just upheld.
The site is believed to be run from Yemen, where a number of exiled members of the Baath are based. The party was disbanded after U.S.-led forces overthrew Saddam in 2003.