Donald Trump has come under fire from his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign for praising Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq who was captured by U.S. forces in 2003 and executed by the Iraqi government in 2006. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, during a Tuesday rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, praised the late Iraqi dictator’s anti-terrorism tactics.
“Saddam Hussein was a bad guy, right? He was a bad guy, really bad guy. But you know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good. They didn't read them the rights, they didn't talk. They were a terrorist — it was over,” Trump, who has slammed President Barack Obama for being “weak” in his fight against “Islamic terrorism,” said. “Today, Iraq is Harvard for terrorism. You want to be a terrorist, you go to Iraq. It's like Harvard.”
This is not the first time Trump has praised Saddam, who is widely accused of having committed grave human rights abuses against his own people during his 24-year reign. In October, Trump, when asked if the world would be a better place if Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi — the former Libyan dictator — were still in power, Trump said “100 percent.”
“I mean, look at Libya. Look at Iraq. Iraq used to be no terrorists,” he said during an interview with CNN. “If you look at Iraq from years ago, I'm not saying he [Hussein] was a nice guy, he was a horrible guy, but it was a lot better than it is right now. Right now, Iraq is a training ground for terrorists. Right now Libya, nobody even knows Libya, frankly there is no Iraq and there is no Libya. It's all broken up. They have no control. Nobody knows what's going on.”
Trump’s latest comments drew immediate condemnation from the Clinton campaign, with senior campaign adviser Jake Sullivan stating that “Trump's praise for brutal strongmen seemingly knows no bounds.”
“In reality, Hussein's regime was a sponsor of terrorism — one that paid families of suicide bombers who attacked Israelis, among other crimes,” Sullivan said in a statement. “Trump's cavalier compliments for brutal dictators, and the twisted lessons he seems to have learned from their history, again demonstrate how dangerous he would be as commander-in-chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks.”