On July 16, 1979, Saddam Hussein became the president of Iraq. Afterwards, Reverend Jacob Yasso congratulated him. Yasso was a minister at the Sacred Heart Chaldean Church of Detroit, Michigan, so Saddam sent a quarter of a million dollars to his church. This was not too uncommon for Saddam, as he had donated to many Chaldean churches. (Chaldeans are a Catholic group from regions around Iraq. Their largest population in the United States is in Detroit.)
A year later, Reverend Yasso, among others, traveled to Iraq as special guests. Yasso later stated in an interview that they were treated very well and “received on the red carpet.” While he was there, Yasso presented Saddam with a gift from Coleman Young, the mayor of Detroit: the keys to the city. Afterwards, Saddam donated another $200,000 to Yasso’s church to help pay off a debt.