He's lived a life that's now hit the big screen. Michael Saba escaped an Iraqi hostage situation in 1990. Saba’s story is similar to the Academy Award-nominated film, “Argo.”
Michael Saba's consulting business led him to Baghdad, Iraq, in 1990. Everyone said it was safe, but Saba learned otherwise. He became a hostage when Iraq invaded Kuwait, as the airports closed and the country was closed off from the world.
“He played it as if we were guests. We were called Saddam's guests, and we stayed in the hotel, but they had us guarded the whole time,” Saba said. “There were just scores of troops running with machine guns putting people up against the wall. It's those moments when you are aware of how precarious it was.”
Saba’s real-life story is similar to the “Argo" plot, which is adapted from a real-life Iranian escape of six U.S. diplomats led by a CIA Agent in 1979. While the story is adapted for the silver screen, Saba says it captured the situation almost as if the actors were taken hostage.
“The reluctance and the tension they would feel; I remember so many moments like that,” Saba said, “I was quite scared. We were stopped by Iraqi troops three times. They had machine guns pointed all over the place. We would explain we were just businessmen trying to get home.”
He and another man hired a taxi driver and escaped Iraq into Jordan. Saba eventually met up with other freed hostages, including a man who escaped from Iran just a decade before. Saba became an outspoken critic of the United States’ handling of the hostage situation.
“When I heard that the meeting had broken down between the Iraqis, I felt a sense of doom,” he said during a 1990 congressional hearing. “I called the embassy about that, and again, they said, 'No problem,'” Saba said.
He eventually formed a group that helped get the Iraqi hostages home. Nearly 25 years after his own experience, he has a kinship with those held prisoner because of war
“We knew we couldn't get out and we didn't know what to do. It was pretty scary,” Saba said.