Ali Hassan al-Majid, the eldest son of Hassan al-Majid, a full brother to Saddam Hussein's father, was born in Tikrit in 1941. Like Saddam Hussein, his immediate family belonged to the Sunni Muslim al-Bejat clan, part of the al-Bu Nasir tribe, which was dominant in the Tikrit region.
Before the 1968 revolution, Ali Hassan was a motorcycle messenger in the army. Under Saddam Hussein, he served as Chief of Security; Secretary, Office of Northern Iraqi affairs; Military Governor of Kuwait (1990-1991); Director of the Revolutionary Command Council; Defence minister (91-95) and finally Director of Intelligence and Interior Minister.
He was called Chemical Ali and the Butcher of Kurdistan for allegedly ordering a poison gas attack in 1988 that killed thousands of Kurds (the Halabja poison gas attack). As Secretary General of the Northern Bureau of Iraq's Ba'ath Party, Ali Hassan had authority over all state agencies in the Kurdish region from March 1987 to April 1989, including the 1st and 5th Corps of the army, the General Security Directorate, and Military Intelligence. This included the period of the Anfal (English: Spoils of War) campaign against the region's Kurdish residents.
He later oversaw the occupation of Kuwait in 1990 and 1991 and served as the country's military governor from August to November of 1990.
In 1991, after Iraq's expulsion from Kuwait, and with Saddam Hussein's authority undermined, Ali Hassan was appointed Iraq's Minister of the Interior, in order to quell growing opposition to the regime. He allegedly led the brutal repression of the Shia Muslim population of southern Iraq.
Ali Hassan had mistakenly been assumed to have died in April 2003, after a coalition attack on his house in Basra, following the US-led invasion of Iraq in that year.
However, U.S. officials subsequently confirmed on 21 August 2003 that he had been captured alive a few days earlier. Little more information was disclosed concerning the circumstances of his arrest.
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