Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging in Baghdad early Saturday, according to news reports, culminating a long saga kicked off when U.S. forces invaded Iraq in April 2003.
An Iraq court earlier this year found the former Iraqi dictator guilty of ordering the killing of 148 Shiites in 1982; an appeals court had recently turned down an appeal.
The execution was protested by human rights organizations that alleged the trial was unfair, but hailed by members of the Shiite and Kurdish populations, which suffered for years under Hussein's brutal rule.
The exact time of the execution was hushed in secrecy, largely because of security concerns, officials said. U.S. forces were put on high alert, and Iraqi officials hinted that the daily curfews here may be extended in anticipation of reprisal violence.
Despite the arrest and trial of Hussein, the insurgency has continued unabated, and sectarian violence between the Sunni and Shiite populations has flared into what some observers have labeled a civil war.
The hanging took place at 6 a.m. Baghdad time, 10 p.m. EST.