10 executions that defined the 2000s

With the turn of the tide to the 2010s, we bid farewell to a decade that never did get a consensus moniker.

Like every decade known to the historian’s annals, however, the Aughties found plenty of work for the world’s hangmen.

As we prepare to flip over the calendar, Executed Today remembers ten executions that most palpably captured the decade’s Zeitgeist.

10. Dhananjoy Chatterjee, 2004

Although the world’s second-most populous country retains the death penalty and has dozens of death row denizens, an entire generation of Indians has come of age having never known an actual execution … never, except for the 2004 hanging of Dhananjoy Chatterjee (Update: Not any more). That made this otherwise ordinary criminal a worldwide controversy, and his archaic colonial-era hangman a temporary celebrity.

9. Aileen Wuornos, 2002

Two years after the magnetic prostitute/serial killer was given a lethal injection in Florida, Charlize Theron won an Oscar for portraying her in Monster.

8. Wang Binyu, 2005

This migrant laborer was just grist for the mill of China’s helter-skelter industrialization in the neoliberal economic machine … until, in a fury over wages stolen by his employer, he slew a foreman. Chinese media that picked up his story inadvertently made him an emblematic figure for the untold millions of his countrymen and -women who could sympathize with his sentiment: “I want to die. When I am dead, nobody can exploit me anymore. Right?” Internet buzz about Wang had to be forcibly squelched.

7. Timothy McVeigh, 2001

The Gulf War veteran was the face of terrorism in the U.S. from the time of his arrest for the 1995 bombing of Oklahoma City’s Murrah Federal Building, until three months after his June 11, 2001, execution.

6. Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, 2005

Heart-rending photos of these teenagers hanging in Iran were a worldwide Internet sensation and made them an instant symbol of Iranian anti-gay persecution.

5. Mamoru Takuma, 2004

“I want others to know the unreasonableness that high-achieving children could be killed at any time,” said the author of perhaps the most infamous crime spree in modern Japanese history. The usually glacial Japanese capital system got the former janitor into a noose barely three years after he’d knifed eight children to death in the “Osaka school massacre”.

4. Cameron Todd Willingham, 2004

Something tells us that the ornery Texan — he took his leave of the world throwing an obscene gesture at his former wife from his execution gurney — would have been but pleasantly surprised to discover himself a major posthumous headache for Gov. Rick Perry (who signed his death warrant) and like-minded partisans of pseudoscience arson convictions. The sad part is that the evidence of Willingham’s potential innocence in the recent bombshell New Yorker article was basically all available at the time of his execution.

Rediscovery (with touching, or feigned, naivete) of the timeless problematic of executing innocents has characterized the 2000s not only in the U.S. but around the world.

3. The Bali Bombers, 2008

These grinning Islamic militants orchestrated the 2002 coordinated triple bombing on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed 202, most of them western tourists. (88 were Australians, the predominant nationality affected, as against only 38 Indonesians.) Then they spent six years gleefully milking their notoriety.

2. Zheng Xiaoyu, 2007

Zheng Xiaoyu hears his death sentence.

While proletarians like Wang Binyu died for pennies and many like Fu Xinrong died for their organs, the more privileged in China’s gangster capitalism played for higher stakes. For a decade the state’s Food and Drugs Minister, Zheng Xiaoyu took payola to rubber-stamp products that turned out to be dangerous to man and beast. His high-profile execution was Beijing’s response to a wave of concern about the safety of Chinese exports abroad … and a pledge, one year in advance of the 2008 Olympics, of China’s readiness for the world stage.

Zheng aside, elites behaving as gangsters (and vice versa) have been a recurring phenomenon on China’s execution grounds of late.

1. Saddam Hussein, 2006

Undoubtedly the decade’s signature execution, the 2006 hanging by America’s Iraqi puppet government of America’s longtime foreign policy bete noir was purchased for trillions that would have been better spent just buying the guy off … especially since cell phone video soon to circle the globe revealed the old rattlesnake taking command of a distinctly undignified scene.

Honorable Mentions

Some other notable executions to remember the 2000s by:

  • Creepy Malaysian pop singer Mona Fandey
  • Anti-abortion terrorist/martyr Paul Hill
  • Dmitry Chikunov, whose secret execution launched his mother on the crusade that would abolish Uzbekistan’s death penalty
  • Draconian anti-drug laws ensnaring foreign drug mules, like Australian national Nguyen Van Van and Nigerian footballer Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi in Singapore, and mentally ill Briton Akmal Shaikh in China
  • Vietnamese crime lord Nam Cam
  • Han Bok-nam, whose public shooting in North Korea was filmed and smuggled out of the country
  • The filmed stoning of Du’a Khalil Aswad in Iraq
  • Many people, such as Italian journalist Enzo Baldoni, taken hostage in Iraq and demonstratively “executed”

On this day..

42 thoughts on “10 executions that defined the 2000s

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  3. I can’t believe the people saying saddum hussein was quote a real man. He was a murderer and a coward. Any man that kills children is not a real man, he’s a narcissistic coward. He deserved what he got, actually he deserved to be gassed like he did to his people , especially the children. There IS A SPECIAL PLACE IN HELL FOR PEOPLE LIKE HIM. I know people have their own opinions and I respect that, but saying he was anything but a tyrant and a bully really makes me wonder sometimes.

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  5. If any government as a Capital punishment they must use it to keep CREDITABLITY in the world.If not repeal it.

  6. Saddam the “real man” was captured hiding in a hole in the ground, and he crawled out begging for his life.

    He was no hero, no “real man.” He was a thug who murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people, who robbed his country blind and lived a life of obscene luxury while his nation’s children starved and died in the tens of thousands from treatable illnesses. He launched wars of aggression against his neighbors and funded terrorist attacks around the world.

    The only thing admirable about Saddam is that he died at the end of a rope.

  7. @10 Jackson

    It’s true that Saddam Hussein was brave and dignified as he went to his death, while his jeering enemies behaved like thugs.

    But i Saddam Hussein represents a breed of real men that is nearly extinct, than I am delighted that to hear they are dying out.

  8. I request u all people to read & research what is there in Quran & the sayings of Prophet [peace be upon him] [Hadees] then you’ll come to know how the educated robbers uses the laws of Islam. there is no proper law other than the sayings of the prophet [peace be upon him]. no use in commenting unnecessarily.

    • Why bring religion into things? It really gets my goat when in the middle of the comments or discussions on the internet some nutter starts spouting religious claptrap. I couldn’t what religion you’re preaching – don’t do it. Keep your beliefs in your home or place of worship.

  9. Saddam is not a tyrant if u compare him with Narendra Modi the real terrorist of India who brutally killed many minorities of India.

  10. Saddam went straight to hell, he was no man he was a coward and dog! Please go to school and learn your truley ignorant and uneducated!

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  12. War Nerd said it best in his article “Saddam died beautiful”:

    “Saddam told the ski-mask monkeys they weren’t real men. And he had the right to say that too. Call him what you want, but Saddam was a man, a real man. One of the last. To me, watching that execution was like watching Planet of the Apes: a bunch of de-evolved primates killing the last man. Saddam looked like the 20th century in that overcoat and hat. He’d lost weight in prison. Never flinched, not once. You try that: going to the gallows with your blood enemies screaming insults at you. See if you can hold your bladder, never mind answer back as fast and calm as he did.

    We may not have meant to, but we showed him the ultimate respect. And he deserved it. He’s wherever the real men go; where Pancho Villa went, and Patton, and Richthofen. Not heaven, but someplace way, way better.”


  13. I have no problem watching footage of tyrants like Saddam Hussein being plunged into eternity at the end of a hempen rope.
    Nor do I have an issue with the death penalty being imposed upon and applied to genocidal megalomaniacs, serial killers, child killers and those who kill with extreme barbarity.
    The world is better off without the likes of Hussein, Chemical Ali, Timothy McVeigh and others of their ilk.
    I do however believe that if the death penalty is to be meted out it should only apply to the very worst of killers and should be done in a dignified, humane manner.
    I would be satisfied with the average garden variety murderer being caged for the rest of their natural lives.

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  15. Undoubtedly Saddam Husein’s execution is the most famous one in the last decade, but probably for the longer period too.

  16. Good riddance to all of them if they are guilty of killing. I would tie the knot / press the button / flip the switch or pull the trigger myself to any of these scum guilty of rape/killing/brutality to animals or people.

    I would not throw rocks for some reason…. just seems barbaric.

  17. Pingback: ExecutedToday.com » 2009: A day in the death penalty around the world

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  19. This is a phenomenal list. It also puts into perspective the way we view capital punishment. These may have been 10 of the most talked about executions, but what about the nameless, faceless executions, such as Amina in Afghanistan. Or how about the botched executions of Joseph Clark and Angel Diaz in the U.S.? This blog is amazing, and really makes me consider things that I’d rather not think about…and that’s how it’s got to be sometimes.

    Keep up the good work!

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