Saddam Hussein 'Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (also spelled Husayn, Hussain) was the brutal dictator of Iraq from 1979 to 2003.

Son of Hussein al-Majid and Subha Tulfah al-Mussallat, Saddam never saw his father, who died in mysterious circumstances around the time Saddam was born. Subha married Ibrahim al-Hassan, who treated Saddam harshly. Saddam was born on April 28, 1937 in the village of Al-Awja, close to Tikrit.

At the age of 10, Saddam went to Baghdad to live with his uncle, Khairallah. Saddam joined the Ba'ath Party and participated in the assassination attempt on Iraqi dictator Abdul Karim Qassem. It failed, and Saddam escaped to Cairo, Egypt.

Returning to Iraq following a Ba'ath revolution who deposed and killed Qassem, but he was imprisoned following a takeover by the military, led by Abdul Salam Arif.

Saddam escaped from prison and joined his cousin Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, secretary-general of the Ba'ath Party. In 1968, al-Bakr led a coup d'├ętat which deposed Iraq's leader Abdar Rahman Arif, brother of the late Abdul Salam. By the early 1970s, Saddam was the de facto leader of Iraq.

In 1979, Saddam forces al-Bakr to resign. Now supreme leader, Saddam purged the Ba'ath Party, executing many members who diagreed with him.

In 1980, Saddam invaded Iran, beginning a decade-long war which ended with the lives of more than 800,000 people. Saddam used many lethal gases against Iranian troops. The war ended with a peace treaty in 1988.

During 1988, Saddam ordered his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid ("Chemical Ali"), to begin a campaign against the Kurds. The result was a terrible genocide called the Anfal campaign, in which more than 50,000 people died. The most famous target of Anfal was Halabja, in which 5,000 died.

During the Iran-Iraq War, the United States helped Iraq, but in 1989 relations with that superpower became sour. In 1990, Saddam invaded his helpless neighbor, Kuwait. Reluctantly, the United Nations authorized the United States to make an international coalition to drive out Saddam from Kuwait.

In 1991, Saddam was defeated, but left in power. That same years, the Shi'ite Muslims in the south and the Kurds in the north revolted, but the United States failed to help the rebels and the Iraqi army crushed the revolts.

In Augus 1995, Saddam's daughter Rana and her husband Hussein Kamel al-Majid and Saddam's daughter Raghad and her husband Saddam Kamel al-Majid defected to Jordan. Saddam lied to them and brought them back to Iraq, where Saddam's son mercilessly slaughter the Kamel brothers. Rana and Raghad never talked to their father and their brother again. The leader of the Iraqi opposition, Ahmed Chalabi, led a coup in 1995, but it failed to depose Saddam.

American President George W. Bush named Iraq part of an axis of evil. In 2003, the United States, the United Kingdom, Poland, and Australia begun a war against Saddam, which ended with the Saddam government when coalition troops entered Baghdad on April 9, 2003. It is not clear if Saddam was killed in the bombings of April 7, or if he lived until April 9. Saddam's secretary, Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti, was captured in June 16 and he claimed that Saddam had escaped to Syria but was now in Iraq. A brutal dictator, Saddam killed about 2 million people.