Retired Air Force Colonel Claims Iran Leader Held Him Hostage 25 Years Ago
Posted June 30, 2005 4:26 a.m. EDT
PINEHURST, N.C. — Iran is thousands of miles away from Pinehurst, but Ret. U.S. Air Force Col. David Roeder is caught right in the middle of a political maelstrom.
Roeder said that when he saw Iran's president-elect, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on television, he was convinced that he knew the face he saw on the screen.
Hostage-Takers: Iran's Leader Had No Role
"It was instant recognition," Roeder said. "It was, 'I know that guy' and 'I know why I know him.' It was almost an immediate flashback to that interrogation room."
In 1979, eight days into his assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Iran, Roeder was one of 52 taken hostage and held for 444 days. He said he is convinced that Ahmadinejad was one of his captors.
"He was clearly in charge, although he never spoke directly to me," Roeder recalled.
Four other former hostages are making the same claim.
Ahmadinejad's camp denies the accusations, but Roeder said he has no doubts.
"It was his gestures. They had sideviews and his movements and his body language -- I knew immediately that was the guy," Roeder said.
Although Ahmandinejad never spoke and never physically touched him, Roeder said he seemed to have been calling the shots.
He recalls one of the lowest points of his captivity when the captors threatened his disabled son.
"They were going to kidnap Jim and send various body parts, like fingers and toes," he said. "This guy's a hardliner. It could get pretty messy and I hope this doesn't happen."
A lot has changed in Iran over the past 25 years since the hostage crisis, but Roeder said he is worried too many things have stayed the same.
The White House said Thursday it is taking Roeder's claims and the other hostages' claims against Ahmadinejad seriously.