Saddam Hussein was born on April 28, 1937, in a poor farmer's family in Tikrit of Saladdin Province, northwest of Baghdad. Under the influence of his uncle Khayrallah Tulfah, an Iraqi army officer and crusader for Arab unity, Saddam joined the Arab Baath Socialist Party when he was 19.
Saddam made his debut three years later when he took part in a 1959 assassination against Iraqi Prime Minister Abudul Karim Kassim. Shot in the leg in the failed attempt, he escaped first to Syria and then to Egypt. He was sentenced to death in absentia in February 1960.
During his exile in Egypt, Saddam joined the leadership of the Baath party's branch in Cairo in 1962, and was admitted to the College of Law in Cairo in 1962-1963.
Returning to Iraq after the Ramadhan revolution in February 1963, Saddam became a member of the 4th regional congress and the 6th national congress of the Baath party in 1963. He was elected into the regional leadership of the Baath party in Iraq after the party's rule was overthrown at the end of 1963.
In 1964, Saddam was arrested for plotting to overthrow the regime of Abdul Salam Aref. Although in prison, he was elected a member of the Baath party's Pan-Arab national leadership in the 8th national congress in 1965, and also became deputy secretary-general of the Baath party's regional leadership in Iraq in September 1966.
After escaping from prison in 1967, Saddam helped lead the revolution on July 17, 1968, which eventually brought the Baath party to power under Gen. Ahmed Hassan Bakr. Saddam was elected vice chairman of the Revolution Command Council in November 1969.
He was dubbed the rank of Lieutenant General in July 1973 and was then promoted to the rank of General in January 1976. Saddam ascended to the top of political power when he was only 42 years old.
In July 1979, Saddam was elected secretary-general of the regional leadership of the Baath party in Iraq, chairman of the Revolution Command Council, president of the Republic of Iraq and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
He was also promoted to the rank of Field Marshal and became deputy secretary-general of the Pan-Arab national leadership of the Baath party in 1979.
In September 1980, Saddam declared abrogating the Algiers Accord signed with Iran in 1975, and soon afterwards a war broke out. The eight-year war between Iraq and Iran killed about one million people in both countries and caused a total loss of at least 900 billion US dollars.
In August 1990, Saddam ordered the invasion of Kuwait, proclaiming it as Iraq's 19th province. His refusal to retreat from Kuwait led to the Gulf War in 1991.
The US-led allied forces launched Operation Desert Storm against the Iraqi troops and brought Saddam on knees in February 1991.
In spite of the defeat in the Gulf War, Saddam still remained in power with iron-handed ruling. As the only candidate, he scored a landslide victory with 99.96 percent of votes in a presidential referendum in Oct. 1995 and was granted for another seven-year term.
In May 2001, he was again elected secretary-general of the regional leadership of the Baath party in Iraq.
In October 2002, Saddam got 100 percent of votes in a nationwide referendum on his another seven-year term, which he described as a show of Iraqi people's defiance against the war threats by the United States.
In March 2003, Iraq's failure to cooperate fully with the United Nations nuclear inspectors led to a US-led invasion of Iraq, which was aimed at staking out Saddam and his regime.
In early April, Saddam lost power over his bureaucracy and the Special Republican Guard, hence effectively the power over Iraq. But he survived the invasions and over the following months continued to give direction to loyal anti-occupation forces.
On July 22, Saddam's two only sons Uday and Qusay were killed by US forces.
On Dec. 13, Saddam Hussein was captured in an underground shelter 15 km south of Tikrit by US forces.
On July 1, 2004, Saddam was transferred to Iraqi legal custody, facing charges of crimes against the people of Iraq and for the war against Kuwait in 1990.