The execution of Saddam Hussein will not make the US safer and will only increase the violence in Iraq, the Reverend Jesse Jackson said today.
“Killing him intensifies the violence, reduces our moral authority in the world,” said Mr Jackson, who has travelled to the Middle East on peace missions.
“Today we are not more secure. We’re less secure. We’ve missed a moment to appeal to those in Iraq to break the cycle of violence.”
The deposed Iraqi leader was hanged yesterday, three years after being captured. He was buried today, and there was no immediate sign of a feared Sunni Muslim uprising in retaliation for the execution, although outside the Sunni insurgent stronghold of Ramadi loyalists marched with Saddam pictures and waved Iraqi flags.
Mr Jackson, who spoke after preaching at the Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem, said Osama bin Laden, not Saddam, was behind the September 11 terror attacks.
“Saddam Hussein didn’t hit us. Bin Laden hit us,” he said. “Iraq didn’t hit us. The Taliban hit us.”
Mr Jackson said the US was complicit in the trial and execution of Saddam by the Iraqis “because we held him in our custody, and the government in Iraq today is a government subsidised by the US”
“We encouraged his being hung,” Mr Jackson said. “He is now a trophy of a war that had nothing to do with 9/11. The number of deaths are increasing. The violence is expanding. Our moral authority is eroding.”
American deaths in the Iraq war reached the sobering milestone of 3,000 on today even as the Bush administration sought to overhaul its strategy for the unpopular conflict, which shows little sign of abating.
President Bush said in a statement released on Friday night from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, that Saddam’s death would not halt the bloodshed and political discord in Iraq.
“Many difficult choices and further sacrifices lie ahead,” Mr Bush said. “Yet the safety and security of the American people require that we not relent in ensuring that Iraq’s young democracy continues to progress.”
He said Saddam received a fair trial – “the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime.”