Former Two-Star Iraqi General Speaks In ET

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113px-georges_sada1.jpgBy CINDY MALLETTE
LONGVIEW — In 1991, Georges Sada saved the lives of 45 American, French and British pilots whom his soldiers shot down over the sands of Iraq.

Those men became Saddam Hussein’s prisoners of war, and Sada — as number two in command over the entire Iraq air force — was charged with their keeping. As Sada retold the story to hundreds of listeners at Church on Grace Creek in Longview, Sunday, he said his next steps were obvious.

“I immediately went to my room and took out the Geneva Convention handbook,” he said.

He took injured pilots to a hospital for treatment, and when Hussein’s son, Qusai, wanted to execute the pilots when the war turned against Iraq, Sada moved in to protect them.

“I said, ‘These people are not criminals of war. They are prisoners,’” Sada said. “War has rules. We are a country, and we must obey these rules.”

Sada said he knew that disagreeing with Saddam — directly or indirectly — could mean his death. But through his relationship with Jesus Christ, Sada said he had the strength to do what he knew was right.

“I actually did nothing but my duty,” he said. “All praise goes to Jesus, who gave me the words and courage.”

Sada was in Longview, as a guest of Dr. Terry Law, founder of World Compassion Ministries. The nonprofit ministry has been providing humanitarian aid throughout the globe for 35 years. Sada has helped the ministry enter Iraq three different times, to help deliver Bibles, school supplies and shoes to Iraqi children.

The Iraq program, which has received the blessings of two ayatollahs, started as a way to provide soccer shoes to Iraqi children. Sada mentioned that Iraq won the Asian Football Cup this year and said children are eager to play like their heroes, even if they don’t have proper equipment.

“This country is very rich in oil, but the children are without shoes,” he said.

Sada told the audience about his Assyrian heritage, which he says separates him from the Arab race. Though Iraqi, his family was Catholic, and it set him apart from his countrymen even further. Sada said he became a born-again Christian in 1986, when an evangelist from Fresno, Calif. shared the gospel at his church.

“After he finished, I couldn’t sit in my chair. I was the first to the altar, and when everyone saw the general go forward, all of them went forward, too,” he said.

That same year, Sada was forced to retire after serving more than 20 years and becoming a two-star general in the Iraq Air Force, because he wasn’t a member of Saddam’s Baath party.

“They asked me why I did not join, and I said, ‘Because I am not an Arab, and I am a Christian,’” he said.

But Sada said his reputation for honesty, even in the face of death, stayed with Saddam, and when war broke out in the early 90s, Sada was recalled to service.

“Let me tell you something about Saddam Hussein,” he said. “He trusted me because I was a Christian, and I would tell him the truth.”

During that time, Sada said he saw God work miracles over and over in his life.

On Jan. 17, 1991, Sada and another general were waiting to meet with Saddam in an underground bunker. The men hadn’t slept for three days, so when they got a message Saddam wasn’t coming, the other general offered to let Sada sleep in the underground presidential suite.

At 2:30 a.m., Sada woke up after sleeping only one hour. He decided to go to the operations room instead of trying to sleep any longer. On his way there, an explosion rocked the bunker. The Americans were dropping bombs on top of them, but the 12-foot-thick concrete walls held firm. Sada made his way back to the presidential suite and noticed water running out from under the closed door.

When he opened it, he saw a huge chunk of concrete had fallen into the middle of the bed.

“Our God is good,” Sada said. “He will love us and protect us anywhere. Because I have Jesus, He told me to get out of there.”

Sada said the miracles continue even now. Before war broke out in 2003 (what he calls Iraq’s liberation), Sada said only five evangelical churches existed in the country. To date, 25 churches have sprung up, the largest with a congregation of 1,000 members.

“All of this is news we haven’t heard in America,” he said.

Sada said few media reports highlight the success of the troop surge and the new found freedoms for women and non-Muslim religious faiths because it’s political taboo.

“I see your administration doesn’t run this country,” he said. “It is run by the media, and they are shifting the minds of the people to what they want.”

Sada promoted his book “Saddam’s Secrets” in which he points out many other facts he says the media isn’t willing to touch. Among them is the issue of weapons of mass destruction.

In his book, Sada asserts that Saddam flew chemical and biological weapons into Syria in the months leading up to the war. He said two pilots came to him after America’s invasion and told him they flew 747 jumbo jets filled with the weapons to Syria on 16 separate missions. Sada testified to these assertions before the House Select Intelligence Committee in 2006, but he said the pilots refused to come forward themselves for fear that they or their families would be killed.

“Only God knows what that man would do in the future if he continued to develop WMDs,” Sada said. “That is why I support [the country] that killed Saddam Hussein and freed the people of Iraq.”

He added that the Iraqis would never forget the work America has done during the war and expressed hope that the people would be able to govern themselves soon.

David Benson, pastor of Grace Creek, said he was grateful that Sada — who now serves as senior advisor to the Iraqi National Security Council — spoke at his church. He compared Sada to the Old Testament prophet Daniel, who served God faithfully while working in the court of Persian King Nebuchadnezzar.

Nikki Blakeley, a member of the church, said she was excited to hear the thoughts of a man who knew the “inner workings” of Saddam’s regime. She said she agreed with Sada’s take on the western media and said the Iraq war was justified for the simple fact Saddam abused his own people.

“I think it would be interesting for the media to get over their own opinions and tell us the whole truth,” she said. “Regardless of WMDs, he should still have been taken out because of the way he treated the Iraqis. We shouldn’t place the value of our own lives above theirs.”