Saddam's Mosque Of War


The house Saddam built -- a gleaming mass of white limestone and blue mosaic -- is suffering from an identity crisis.

As CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan reports, it is a Muslim house of prayer, but it also stands as Saddam's monument to war.

Four of its minarets resemble the barrels of Kalashnikov rifles. Another four look like Scud missiles, and the similarities are not a mistake.

It's called the mosque of the "Mother of all Battles." Saddam Hussein watched it rise from the day the ground was broken on his birthday.

He spared no expense. The reflecting pool rings the dome in the shape of the Arab world. In the middle there is a monument of Saddam's thumbprint with his initials set in gold.

But it is what is beneath one towering minaret that speaks the most of Saddam's passion for immortalizing himself.

Behind an ornate door in an inner sanctum are 650 pages of the Holy Koran, said to be penned in Saddam's own blood.

Care takers of the site treat it like a shrine.

What does this symbolize having the Koran written in Saddam Hussein's own blood?

"He loves his religion," one worshipper says, "and his God."

But perhaps the most stunning thing about the way this mosque celebrates the Gulf War is the lack of celebration of any of the war's victims. Out of all the monuments here, not a single one is dedicated to the 100,000 soldiers Iraq claims were killed. Sacrifice isn't the message here, victory is.

And as Saddam builds even more mosques -- like this one, he boasts will be the largest in the world -- his people remain in abject poverty.

He may well want religion to be his legacy, but a ruthless hand may be too hard to forget.