Saddam Hussein called on Iraqis not to hate the U.S.-led forces that invaded Iraq, in a letter posted on a website Wednesday that may be his final statement before execution.
Themessage camea day after an Appeal Court upheld the former dictator's death sentence and ordered him to be hanged within one month.
One of Saddam's lawyers, Issam Ghazzawi, confirmed to the Associated Press in Jordan that the letter was authentic, saying it was written by Saddam on Nov. 5, the day he was convicted by an Iraqi tribunal for ordering the killings of scores of Shia Muslims in the city of Dujail in 1982.
"I call on you not to hate, because hate does not leave space for a person to be fair, and it makes you blind and closes all doors of thinking," the letter said.
"I also call on you not to hate the people of the other countries that attacked us," it said of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Ghazzawi said the letter was released on Tuesday and published on Saddam's former Baath party's website on Wednesday.
The deposed leader said he was writing the letter because his lawyers had told him the Iraqi High Tribunal that tried his case would give him an opportunity to say a final word.
"But that court and its chief judge did not give us the chance to say a word, and issued its verdict without explanation and read out the sentence— dictated by the invaders— without presenting the evidence," Saddam wrote.
"Dear faithful people," Saddam added, "I say goodbye to you, but I will be with the merciful God who helps those who take refuge in him and who will never disappoint any honest believer."
Some Saddam loyalists have threatened to retaliate if the ousted Iraqi leader is executed, warning in a posting on the same Baath party website that carried Saddam's letter they would target U.S. interests anywhere.
"The Baath and the resistance are determined to retaliate, with all means and everywhere, to harm America and its interests if it commits this crime," the statement said, referring to Baath fighters as "the resistance."