Adnan Al-Adeeb said he was not surprised when he heard Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging on Sunday for the 1982 killings of 148 people, three years after he became president.
The 56-year-old engineering consultant, who owns his own firm in The City, remembers his two nephews who were kidnapped and killed by the orders of the former Iraqi leader.
"We are very glad to see the end of this dictator," Al-Adeeb said. "[But], the thing is he was tried for only one crime, which was small in comparison [[to others]."
The reaction of the Bay Area Iraqi community to the news of their former president’s sentencing was mostly supportive of the decision, according to Mohammad Salim, who lived in Iraq for 28 years before moving to the United States.
"It leaves some scars on the Iraqi mind and people because remember, he ruled Iraq for 35 years and we have to admit that this guy has a lot of followers that we can’t discount," he said.
Al-Adeeb, who "ran away" from Iraq a year after Hussein became president in 1979, said the American-Iraqis were anticipating the sentence but had hoped for it to come sooner. Still, the verdict was another step for Iraqis trying to move on from their recent troubled history, according to Abbas Kadhim, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern history at the Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey. He said he spent many "sleepless nights" trying to follow the trial because of its importance.
"I think it’s one step on a long road on, should I say, applying the law in Iraq," he said. "I wouldn’t call it any kind of a sense of happiness because vengeance is not a good human character. But it’s good for Iraq to show a break from the past."
The trial itself was a way to move on from Hussein’s rule and the occupation for local Iraqis, according to Kadhim. He said despite some problems with the trial, there was relative transparency with the process, which is new for Iraq.
"Hopefully now we will have a new chance and a new time and hopefully something new will happen," Salim said.