Those men became Saddam Husseinâ€™s prisoners of war, and Sada â€” as number two in command over the entire Iraq air force â€” 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.
â€œI immediately went to my room and took out the Geneva Convention handbook,â€ he said.
He took injured pilots to a hospital for treatment, and when Husseinâ€™s son, Qusai, wanted to execute the pilots when the war turned against Iraq, Sada moved in to protect them.
â€œI said, â€˜These people are not criminals of war. They are prisoners,â€™â€ Sada said. â€œWar has rules. We are a country, and we must obey these rules.â€
Sada said he knew that disagreeing with Saddam â€” directly or indirectly â€” could mean his death. But through his relationship with Jesus Christ, Sada said he had the strength to do what he knew was right.
â€œI actually did nothing but my duty,â€ he said. â€œAll praise goes to Jesus, who gave me the words and courage.â€
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 donâ€™t have proper equipment.
â€œThis country is very rich in oil, but the children are without shoes,â€ 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.
â€œAfter he finished, I couldnâ€™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,â€ 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 wasnâ€™t a member of Saddamâ€™s Baath party.
â€œThey asked me why I did not join, and I said, â€˜Because I am not an Arab, and I am a Christian,â€™â€ 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.
â€œLet me tell you something about Saddam Hussein,â€ he said. â€œHe trusted me because I was a Christian, and I would tell him the truth.â€
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 hadnâ€™t slept for three days, so when they got a message Saddam wasnâ€™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.
â€œOur God is good,â€ Sada said. â€œHe will love us and protect us anywhere. Because I have Jesus, He told me to get out of there.â€
Sada said the miracles continue even now. Before war broke out in 2003 (what he calls Iraqâ€™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.
â€œAll of this is news we havenâ€™t heard in America,â€ 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 itâ€™s political taboo.
â€œI see your administration doesnâ€™t run this country,â€ he said. â€œIt is run by the media, and they are shifting the minds of the people to what they want.â€
Sada promoted his book â€œSaddamâ€™s Secretsâ€ in which he points out many other facts he says the media isnâ€™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 Americaâ€™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.
â€œOnly God knows what that man would do in the future if he continued to develop WMDs,â€ Sada said. â€œThat is why I support [the country] that killed Saddam Hussein and freed the people of Iraq.â€
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 â€” who now serves as senior advisor to the Iraqi National Security Council â€” 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 â€œinner workingsâ€ of Saddamâ€™s regime. She said she agreed with Sadaâ€™s take on the western media and said the Iraq war was justified for the simple fact Saddam abused his own people.
â€œI think it would be interesting for the media to get over their own opinions and tell us the whole truth,â€ she said. â€œRegardless of WMDs, he should still have been taken out because of the way he treated the Iraqis. We shouldnâ€™t place the value of our own lives above theirs.â€