An Iowan taken captive in Iran three decades ago believes one of her former captors is Iran’s current president.
Katheryn Koob was director of the Iran/America Society, based in Tehran, when she was taken hostage on November 4, 1979. Koob and 52 other Americans were held hostage for 444 days.
“President Ahmadinejad, I am convinced, was on the compound. He may not have been there the first day, but it’s very interesting that five or six of us (hostages) individually when he was running and they started showing pictures of him in the run-off looked and said, ‘He was one of them,'” Koob says. “I’m convinced he was on the compound.”
Koob says prayer helped her withstand the kind of “torture” that she felt at losing contact with the outside world for more than a year.
“The worst day was January 1, 1981. Why that day? I guess it was the realization that we’d lost the whole calendar year of 1980,” Koob says. “1980, basically, hadn’t happened. And on that day I woke up and was just really, really depressed.”
Koob, a native of Jesup, Iowa, was released on January 20, 1981 and greeted — along with her fellow hostages — by crowds in New York and Washington, D.C. along with a huge homecoming in Des Moines.
“It was like a bath of love because people were so welcoming,” Koob says. “People were so welcoming and that was wonderful to be received so warmly by so many people you didn’t know as well as you own family and friends,” Koob says.
Koob wrote a book about her experience in Iran. “Guest of the Revolution” was published in 1984. She is currently a visiting instructor at Wartburg College in Waverly. Koob recently spoke about her captivity in Iran during an interview which aired on “The Iowa Journal” on Iowa Public Television and is posted online.