Iran hostage crisis

Iran hostage crisis

Overview
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 crisis between Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

.

The episode reached a climax when, after failed attempts to negotiate a release, the United States military attempted a rescue operation, Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw was an American military operation ordered by President Jimmy Carter to attempt to put an end to the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 Americans held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on 24 April 1980...

, on April 24, 1980, which resulted in a failed mission, the destruction of two aircraft and the deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian.
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Encyclopedia
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 crisis between Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

.

The episode reached a climax when, after failed attempts to negotiate a release, the United States military attempted a rescue operation, Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw was an American military operation ordered by President Jimmy Carter to attempt to put an end to the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 Americans held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on 24 April 1980...

, on April 24, 1980, which resulted in a failed mission, the destruction of two aircraft and the deaths of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian. It ended with the signing of the Algiers Accords
Algiers Accords
The Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981, were brokered by the Algerian government between the United States and Iran to resolve the Iran hostage crisis. The crisis arose from the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, and the taking hostage of the American staff there...

 in Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 on January 19, 1981. The hostages were formally released into United States custody the following day, just minutes after the new American president Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 was sworn in.

The crisis has been described as an entanglement of "vengeance and mutual incomprehension". In Iran, the hostage taking was widely seen as a blow against the U.S, and its influence in Iran, its perceived attempts to undermine the Iranian Revolution, and its long-standing support of the Shah
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

 of Iran, recently overthrown by the revolution. The Shah had been restored to power in a 1953 coup organized by the CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 at the American Embassy against a democratically-elected nationalist Iranian government, and had recently been allowed into the United States for medical treatment. In the United States, the hostage-taking was seen as an outrage violating a centuries-old principle of international law granting diplomats immunity from arrest
Diplomatic immunity
Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity and a policy held between governments that ensures that diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country's laws...

 and diplomatic compounds are considered inviolable
Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 is an international treaty that defines a framework for diplomatic relations between independent countries. It specifies the privileges of a diplomatic mission that enable diplomats to perform their function without fear of coercion or...

.

The crisis has also been described as the "pivotal episode" in the history of Iran – United States relations. In the U.S., some political analysts believe the crisis was a major reason for U.S. President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

's defeat in the November 1980 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1980
The United States presidential election of 1980 featured a contest between incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter and his Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, as well as Republican Congressman John B. Anderson, who ran as an independent...

. In Iran, the crisis strengthened the prestige of the Ayatollah Khomeini and the political power of those who supported theocracy and opposed any normalization of relations with the West. The crisis also marked the beginning of U.S. legal action, or economic sanctions against Iran
Sanctions against Iran
This article outlines economic, trade, scientific and military sanctions against Iran, which have been imposed by the U.S. government, or under U.S. pressure by the international community through the United Nations Security Council...

, that further weakened economic ties between Iran and the United States.

1953 coup


In February 1979, less than a year before the hostage crisis, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

, the Shah of Iran, had been overthrown in a revolution. For several decades before that, the United States had been an ally and backer
United States-Iran relations
Political relations between Iran and the United States began in the mid-to-late 19th century. Initially, while Iran was very wary of British and Russian colonial interests during the Great Game, the United States was seen as a more trustworthy Western power, and the Americans Arthur Millspaugh and...

 of the Shah. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 powers Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 occupied Iran and required Reza Shah
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

 the existing Shah of Iran to abdicate in favor of his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

. The invasion was allegedly in fear that Reza Shah
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

 was about to align his petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

-rich country with Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 during the war: However, Reza Shah's earlier Declaration of Neutrality and refusal to allow Iranian territory to be used to train, supply, and act as a transport corridor to ship arms to Russia for its war effort against Germany, was the strongest motive for the allied invasion of Iran. Because of its importance in the allied victory, Iran was subsequently called "The Bridge of Victory" by Winston Churchill.

By the 1950s, the Shah was engaged in a power struggle with Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq, an immediate descendant of the previous monarchy, the Qajar dynasty. In 1953, the British and U.S. spy agencies deposed the democratically-elected government of Mossadegh in a military coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

 codenamed Operation Ajax
Operation Ajax
The 1953 Iranian coup d'état was the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom and the United States under the name TPAJAX Project...

, and restored the Shah as an absolute monarch. The anti-democratic coup d’état was a "a critical event in post-war world history" that replaced Iran’s post-monarchic, native, and secular parliamentary democracy with a dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

. US support and funding continued after the coup, with the CIA training the government's secret police, SAVAK
SAVAK
SAVAK was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service established by Iran's Mohammad Reza Shah on the recommendation of the British Government and with the help of the United States' Central Intelligence Agency SAVAK (Persian: ساواک, short for سازمان اطلاعات و امنیت کشور...

. In subsequent decades this foreign intervention, along with other economic, cultural and political issues, united opposition against the Shah and led to his overthrow.

Carter administration


Shortly before the revolution on New Year's Day 1979, American president Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 further angered anti-Shah Iranians with a televised toast to the Shah, declaring how beloved the Shah was by his people. After the revolution in February, the embassy had been occupied and staff held hostage briefly. Rocks and bullets had broken enough of the embassy front-facing windows for them to be replaced with bullet-proof glass. Its staff was reduced to just over 60 from a high of nearly 1000 earlier in the decade.

The Carter administration attempted to mitigate the anti-American feeling by finding a new relationship with the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

Iranian government and by continuing military cooperation in hopes that the situation would stabilize. However, on October 22, 1979 the U.S. permitted the Shah - who was ill with cancer - to attend the Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group specializing in treating difficult patients . Patients are referred to Mayo Clinic from across the U.S. and the world, and it is known for innovative and effective treatments. Mayo Clinic is known for being at the top of...

 for medical treatment. The American embassy in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 had discouraged the request, understanding the political delicacy, but after pressure from influential figures including former United States Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Henry Kissinger
Henry Kissinger
Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger is a German-born American academic, political scientist, diplomat, and businessman. He is a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. He served as National Security Advisor and later concurrently as Secretary of State in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and...

 and Council on Foreign Relations
Council on Foreign Relations
The Council on Foreign Relations is an American nonprofit nonpartisan membership organization, publisher, and think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs...

 chairman David Rockefeller
David Rockefeller
David Rockefeller, Sr. is the current patriarch of the Rockefeller family. He is the youngest and only surviving child of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, and the only surviving grandchild of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil. His five siblings were...

, the Carter administration decided to grant the Shah’s request.

The Shah's admission to the US intensified Iranian revolutionaries' anti-Americanism and spawned rumors of another U.S.-backed coup and re-installation of the Shah.

Revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini - who had been exiled by the Shah for 15 years - heightened rhetoric against the “Great Satan”, the United States, talking of what he called “evidence of American plotting.”


"You have no right to complain, because you took our whole country hostage in 1953.”


In addition to putting an end to what they believed was American plotting and sabotage against the revolution, the hostage takers hoped to depose the provisional revolutionary government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan
Mehdi Bazargan
Mehdi Bazargan was a prominent Iranian scholar, academic, long-time pro-democracy activist and head of Iran's interim government, making him Iran's first prime minister after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He was the head of the first engineering department of Tehran University...

 which they believed was plotting to normalize relations with the United States and extinguish Islamic revolutionary ardor in Iran.

A later study found that there had been no plots for the overthrow of the revolutionaries by the United States, and that a CIA intelligence gathering mission at the embassy was “notably ineffectual, gathering little information and hampered by the fact that none of the three officers spoke the local language, Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

.” Its work was “routine, prudent espionage conducted at diplomatic missions everywhere.”

Planning


The seizure of the American embassy was initially planned in September 1979 by Ebrahim Asgharzadeh
Ebrahim Asgharzadeh
Ebrahim Asgharzadeh is an Iranian political activist and politician. He served as a member of the 3rd Majlis from 1989–1993 and as a member of the first City Council of Tehran from 1999–2003...

, a student at that time. He consulted with the heads of the Islamic associations of Tehran’s main universities, including the University of Tehran
University of Tehran
The University of Tehran , also known as Tehran University and UT, is Iran's oldest university. Located in Tehran, the university is among the most prestigious in the country, and is consistently selected as the first choice of many applicants in the annual nationwide entrance exam for top Iranian...

, Sharif University of Technology
Sharif University of Technology
Sharif University of Technology is a university of higher education in technology, engineering and physical sciences in Tehran. Sharif University of Technology is one of the most prestigious universities in the country, and is considered Iran's MIT...

, Amirkabir University of Technology
Amirkabir University of Technology
Amirkabir University of Technology , formerly called the Tehran Polytechnic is a public research university located in Tehran, Iran. AUT is one of the most prestigious universities and the first established technical university in Iran...

 (Polytechnic of Tehran) and Iran University of Science and Technology
Iran University of Science and Technology
The Iran University of Science and Technology is a research institution and university of engineering and science in Iran, offering both undergraduate and postgraduate studies...

. Their group was named Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line , also translated as Muslim Students of the Imam Khomeini Line, was an Iranian student group that occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979...

.

Asgharzadeh later said there were five students at the first meeting, two of whom (including current Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - although this claim has been denied by the Iranian government - the Iranian opposition as well as a CIA investigation on the matter) wanted to target the Soviet embassy because the USSR was “a Marxist
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

 and anti-God regime.” But two others, Mirdamadi
Mohsen Mirdamadi
Mohsen Mirdamadi, was an organizer of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, a member of the parliament of Iran from 2000-2004, and the "head of the largest pro-reform party" in Iran, Islamic Iran Participation Front since 2006....

 and Habibolah Bitaraf
Habibolah Bitaraf
Habibolah Bitaraf was Energy Minister of Iran for 8 years during the Mohammad Khatami presidency. He is a University of Tehran alumnus. During his serving as Energy minister, many huge national projects were launched such as numerous power plants and dam construction projects.-References:...

, supported Asgharzadeh’s chosen target — the United States. "Our aim was to object against the American government by going to their embassy and occupying it for several hours," Asgharzadeh said. "Announcing our objections from within the occupied compound would carry our message to the world in a much more firm and effective way." Mirdamadi told an interviewer, "we intended to detain the diplomats for a few days, maybe one week, but no more." Masoumeh Ebtekar
Masoumeh Ebtekar
Masoumeh Ebtekar is an Iranian scientist, journalist and politician. She is currently the director of Peace and Environment Center in Tehran.Ebtekar first achieved fame as the spokeswoman of the students who had occupied the US Embassy in 1979...

, spokeswoman for the Iranian students during the crisis, said that those who rejected Asgharzadeh's plan did not participate in the subsequent events.

The Islamic students observed the security procedures of the Marine Security Guards from nearby rooftops overlooking the embassy. They also used experiences from the recent revolution, during which the U.S. embassy grounds were briefly occupied. They enlisted the support of police in charge of guarding the embassy and of Islamic Revolutionary Guards.

According to the group and other sources Khomeini did not know of the plan beforehand. The Islamist students had wanted to inform him but according to author Mark Bowden, Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Musavi Khoeyniha persuaded them not to. Khoeyniha feared the government would use police to expel the Islamist students as they had the last occupiers in February. The provisional government had been appointed by Khomeini and so Khomeini was likely to go along with their request to restore order. On the other hand, Khoeyniha knew that if Khomeini first saw that the occupiers were his faithful supporters (unlike the leftists in the first occupation) and that large numbers of pious Muslims had gathered outside the embassy to show their support for the takeover, it would be "very hard, perhaps even impossible", for the Imam Khomeini to oppose the takeover, and this would paralyze the Bazargan administration Khoeyniha and the students wanted to eliminate.

Takeover


Around 6:30 a.m. on November 4, the ringleaders gathered between 30,000 and 50,000 selected students, thereafter known as Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line , also translated as Muslim Students of the Imam Khomeini Line, was an Iranian student group that occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979...

, and briefed them on the battle plan. A female student was given a pair of metal cutters to break the chains locking the embassy's gates, and she hid them beneath her chador
Chador
A chādor or chādar is an outer garment or open cloak worn by many Iranian women and female teenagers in public spaces. Wearing this garment is one possible way in which a Muslim woman can follow the Islamic dress code known as ḥijāb. A chador is a full-body-length semicircle of fabric that is...

.

At first the students' plan to only make a symbolic occupation, release statements to the press and leave when government security forces came to restore order, was reflected in placards saying `Don't be afraid. We just want to set-in`. When the embassy guards brandished firearms, the protesters retreated, one telling the Americans, `We don't mean any harm.` But as it became clear the guards would not use deadly force and that a large angry crowd had gathered outside the compound to cheer the occupiers and jeer the hostages, the occupation changed. According to one embassy staff member, buses full of demonstrators began to appear outside the embassy shortly after the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line
Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line , also translated as Muslim Students of the Imam Khomeini Line, was an Iranian student group that occupied the U.S. embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979...

 broke through the gates.

As Ayatollah Musavi Khoeyniha had hoped, Khomeini supported the takeover. According to Foreign Minister Ebrahim Yazdi
Ebrahim Yazdi
Ebrahim Yazdi is an Iranian politician and diplomat who served as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs in the interim government of Mehdi Bazargan, until his resignation in November 1979, in protest to the Iran hostage crisis...

, when he, Yazdi came to Qom
Qom
Qom is a city in Iran. It lies by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. At the 2006 census, its population was 957,496, in 241,827 families. It is situated on the banks of the Qom River....

 to tell the Imam about the incident, Khomeini told the minister to "go and kick them out." But later that evening, back in Tehran, the minister heard on the radio that Imam Khomeini had issued a statement supporting the seizure and calling it "the second revolution," and the embassy an "American spy den in Tehran."

The occupiers bound and blindfolded the embassy soldiers and staff and paraded them in front of photographers. In the first couple of days many of the embassy staff who had snuck out of the compound or not been there at the time of the takeover were rounded up by Islamists and returned as hostages. Six American diplomats did however avoid capture and found refuge at the nearby Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 embassies in Tehran for three months (Canadian caper
Canadian caper
The "Canadian Caper" was the popular name given to the covert rescue by the Government of Canada of six American diplomats who evaded capture during the seizure of the United States embassy in Tehran, Iran and taking of embassy personnel as hostages by the Iranians on November 4, 1979.- Sanctuary...

). They fled Iran using Canadian passports on January 28, 1980.

Hostage-holding motivations


The Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line demanded that the Shah return to Iran for trial and execution. The U.S. maintained that the Shah, who died less than a year later in July 1980, had come to America only for medical attention. The group's other demands included that the U.S. government apologize for its interference in the internal affairs of Iran, for the overthrow of Prime Minister Mossadeq (in 1953), and that Iran's frozen assets in the U.S. be released.
The initial takeover plan was to hold the embassy for only a short time, but this changed after it became apparent how popular the takeover was and that Khomeini had given it his full support. Some attribute the Iranian decision not to release the hostages quickly to U.S. President Jimmy Carter's "blinking" or failure to immediately deliver an ultimatum to Iran. His immediate response was to appeal for the release of the hostages on humanitarian grounds and to share his hopes of a strategic anti-communist alliance with the Islamic Republic. As some of the student leaders had hoped, Iran's moderate prime minister Mehdi Bazargan
Mehdi Bazargan
Mehdi Bazargan was a prominent Iranian scholar, academic, long-time pro-democracy activist and head of Iran's interim government, making him Iran's first prime minister after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. He was the head of the first engineering department of Tehran University...

 and his cabinet resigned under pressure just days after the event.

The duration of the hostages' captivity has been blamed on internal Iranian revolutionary politics. As Ayatollah Khomeini told Iran's president:
This action has many benefits. ... This has united our people. Our opponents do not dare act against us. We can put the constitution to the people's vote without difficulty, and carry out presidential and parliamentary elections.


Theocratic Islamists, as well as leftist political groups and figures like leftist People's Mujahedin of Iran
People's Mujahedin of Iran
The People's Mujahedin of Iran is a terrorist militant organization that advocates the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran....

, supported the taking of American hostages as an attack on "American imperialism" and its alleged Iranian "tools of the West." Revolutionary teams displayed secret documents purportedly taken from the embassy, sometimes painstakingly reconstructed after shredding
Paper shredder
A paper shredder is a mechanical device used to cut paper into chad, typically either strips or fine particles. Government organizations, businesses, and private individuals use shredders to destroy private, confidential, or otherwise sensitive documents...

, to buttress their claim that "the Great Satan" (the U.S.) was trying to destabilize the new regime, and that Iranian moderates were in league with the U.S. The documents were published in a series of books called "Documents from the US Espionage Den" . These books included telegrams, correspondence, and reports from the U.S. State Department and Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

.


By embracing the hostage-taking under the slogan "America can't do a thing," Khomeini rallied support and deflected criticism from his controversial Islamic theocratic constitution
Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran
The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran was adopted by referendum on October 24, 1979, and went into force on December 3 of that year, replacing the Constitution of 1906. It was amended on July 28, 1989. The constitution has been called a "hybrid" of "authoritarian, theocratic and...

, which was due for a referendum vote in less than one month. Following the successful referendum, both leftists and theocrats continued to use the issue of alleged pro-Americanism to suppress their opponents, the relatively moderate political forces, which included the Iranian Freedom Movement, National Front, Grand Ayatollah Shari'atmadari, and later President Abolhassan Banisadr
Abolhassan Banisadr
Abulhassan Banisadr is an Iranian politician, economist and human rights activist who served as the first President of Iran from 4 February 1980 after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the abolition of the monarchy until his impeachment on 21 June 1981 by the Parliament of Iran...

. In particular, carefully selected diplomatic dispatches and reports discovered at the embassy and released by the hostage-takers led to the disempowerment and resignations of moderate figures such as Premier Mehdi Bazargan. The political danger in Iran of any move seen as accommodating America, along with the failed rescue attempt, delayed a negotiated release. After the hostages were released, leftists and theocrats turned on each other, with the stronger theocratic group annihilating the left.


Hostage conditions


The hostage-takers released 13 women and black people in the middle of November 1979, claiming they were sympathetic to "oppressed minorities". One more hostage, a white man named Richard Queen
Richard Queen
Richard Ivan Queen was born in Washington D.C. and worked for the U.S. State Department as Vice Consul at the U.S. Embassasy in Tehran, Iran...

, was released in July 1980 after he became seriously ill with what was later diagnosed as multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms...

. The remaining 52 hostages were held captive until January 1981, a total of 444 days of captivity.

The hostages initially were held in buildings at the embassy, but after the failed rescue mission they were scattered to different locations around Iran to make rescue even more difficult. Three high level officials — Bruce Laingen, Victor Tomseth and Mike Howland — were at the Foreign ministry at the time of the takeover. They stayed there for some months, sleeping in the ministry's formal dining room and washing their socks and underwear in the bathroom. They were first treated as diplomats but after the provisional government fell relations deteriorated and by March the doors to their living space were kept "chained and padlocked."

By midsummer 1980 the Iranians moved the hostages to prisons in Tehran to prevent either escape or rescue attempts and to improve the logistics of guard shifts and food delivery. The final holding area, from Nov. 1980 until their release, was the Teymour Bakhtiari mansion in Tehran, where the hostages were finally provided tubs, showers and hot and cold running water. Several foreign diplomats and ambassadors — including Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor prior to the Canadian Caper — came to visit the hostages over the course of the crisis, relaying information back to the US government — including the "Laingen dispatches," made by hostage Bruce Laingen
Bruce Laingen
Lowell Bruce Laingen was the senior American official held hostage during the Iran hostage crisis.-Biography:Laingen, born on a farm in southern Minnesota, graduated from St. Olaf College. He also studied at the National War College, and received a M.A. in International Relations from the...

 - to help the home country stay in contact.

Iranian propaganda stated that the hostages were "guests" treated with respect. Ibrahim Asgharzadeh described the original hostage taking plan as a "nonviolent" and symbolic action where the "gentle and respectful treatment" of the hostages would dramatize to the whole world the offended sovereignty and dignity of Iran. In America, an Iranian chargé d'affaires, Ali Agha, stormed out of meeting with an American official, exclaiming `We are not mistreating the hostages. They are being very well taken care of in Tehran. They are our guests.`" In Iran one guard told several hostages `We want you to feel that you are our guests,` and complained that use of the word "guard" was `too cruel.` Visiting Iranian officials asked hostages `What can I do for you? We want to make you more comfortable.` and told another surprised hostage that they, the hostages, should be grateful that Iran was protecting them from attempts by the US government to kill them.

The actual treatment of the hostages was far different from that purported in Iranian propaganda: the hostages described beatings, theft, the fear of bodily harm while being paraded blindfold before a large, angry chanting crowd outside the embassy (Bill Belk and Kathryn Koob), having their hands bound "day and night" for days or even weeks, long periods of solitary confinement and months of being forbidden to speak to one another or stand, walk, and leave their space unless they were going to the bathroom. In particular they felt the threat of trial and execution, as all of the hostages "were threatened repeatedly with execution, and took it seriously." The hostage takers played Russian Roulette
Russian roulette
Russian roulette is a potentially lethal game of chance in which participants place a single round in a revolver, spin the cylinder, place the muzzle against their head and pull the trigger...

 with their victims.

The most terrifying night for the hostages came on February 5, 1980, when guards in black ski masks rousted the 53 hostages from their sleep and led them blindfolded to other rooms. They were searched after being ordered to strip to their underwear and keep their hands up. The mock execution ended after the guards cocked their weapons and readied them to fire but finally ejected their rounds and told the prisoners to pull up their pants. The hostages were later told the exercise was "just a joke" and something the guards "had wanted to do."

Michael Metrinko was kept in solitary confinement for months. On two occasions when he expressed his opinion of Ayatollah Khomeini and he was punished especially severely in relation to the ordinary mistreatment of the hostages — the first time being kept in handcuffs for 24 hours a day for two weeks, and being beaten and kept alone in a freezing cell for two weeks with a diet of bread and water the second time.

One hostage (Army medic Donald Hohman) went on a hunger strike for several weeks and two are thought to have attempted suicide. Steve Lauterbach became despondent, broke a water glass and slashed his wrists after being locked in a dark basement room of the chancery with his hand tightly bound and aching badly. He was found by guards, rushed to the hospital and patched up. Jerry Miele, an introverted CIA communicator technician, smashed his head into the corner of a door, knocking himself unconscious and cutting a deep gash from which blood poured. "Naturally withdrawn", and looking "ill, old, tired, and vulnerable" Miele had become the butt of his guards' jokes who rigged up a mock electric chair with wires to emphasize the fate that awaited him. After his fellow hostages applied first aid and raised alarm, he was taken to a hospital after a long delay created by the guards.

Different hostages described further Iranian threats to boil their feet in oil (Alan B. Golacinski), cut their eyes out (Rick Kupke), or kidnap and kill a disabled son in America and `start sending pieces of him to your wife.` (David Roeder)

Four different hostages attempted to escape all being punished with stretches of solitary confinement when their attempt was discovered.

The hostage released for multiple sclerosis (Richard Queen) first developed symptoms (dizziness and numbness in his arm) six months before his release. It was misdiagnosed by Iranians first as a reaction to draft of cold air, and after warmer confinement didn't help as "it's nothing, it's nothing," the symptoms of which would soon disappear. Over the months the symptoms spread to his right side and worsened until Queen "was literally flat on his back unable to move without growing dizzy and throwing up."

The cruelty of the Iranians became "a form of slow torture." Guards would often withhold mail from home, telling one hostage (Charles W. Scott) "I don't see anything for you, Mr. Scott. Are you sure your wife has not found another man?" and hostages' possessions went missing.

As the hostages were taken to the plane that would fly them out of Tehran, they were led through a gauntlet of students forming parallel lines and shouting `Margbar Amrika`, (death to America) When the pilot announced they were out of Iran the "freed hostages went wild with happiness. Shouting, cheering, crying, clapping, falling into one another's arms."

Impact in America



In the United States, the hostage-taking is said to have created "a surge of patriotism" and left "the American people more united than they have been on any issue in two decades." The action was seen "not just as a diplomatic affront," but as a "declaration of war on diplomacy itself." Television news gave daily updates. President Carter applied economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran: oil imports from Iran were ended on November 12, 1979, and through the issuance of Executive Order 12170
Executive Order 12170
Executive Order 12170 was issued by American president Jimmy Carter on November 14, 1979 during the Iran hostage crisis. This allowed the freezing of all Iranian assets held within the United States.-External links:...

, around US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

8 billion of Iranian assets in the U.S. were frozen by the Office of Foreign Assets Control
Office of Foreign Assets Control
The Office of Foreign Assets Control is an agency of the United States Department of the Treasury under the auspices of the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. OFAC administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S...

 on November 14.

During the weeks leading up to Christmas in 1979, high school students created Christmas cards that were delivered to the hostages in Iran. This was then replicated by community groups across the country, resulting in bales of Christmas cards delivered to the hostages. The White House Christmas Tree that year was left dark except for the top star.

A severe backlash against Iranians in the US developed. One Iranian later complained, "I had to hide my Iranian identity not to get beaten up, even at university." Many Iranians in the U.S. were also expelled.

According to author/journalist Mark Bowden, a pattern developed in President Carter's attempts to negotiate a release of the hostages:
Carter would latch on to a deal proffered by a top Iranian official and grant minor but humiliating concessions, only to have it scotched at the last minute by Khomeini.

Canadian rescue of hostages



On the day the hostages were seized, six American diplomats evaded capture and remained in hiding at the Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 and Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 embassies. In 1979, the Canadian Parliament
Parliament of Canada
The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in the national capital, Ottawa. Formally, the body consists of the Canadian monarch—represented by her governor general—the Senate, and the House of Commons, each element having its own officers and...

 held a secret session for the first time since World War II in order to pass special legislation allowing Canadian passport
Passport
A passport is a document, issued by a national government, which certifies, for the purpose of international travel, the identity and nationality of its holder. The elements of identity are name, date of birth, sex, and place of birth....

s to be issued to some American citizens so that they could escape. The six American diplomats boarded a flight to Zürich
Zürich
Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, on January 28, 1980. Their escape and rescue from Iran by Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor has come to be known as the "Canadian Caper".

Negotiations for release


The first attempt to negotiate a release of the hostages involved Hector Villalon and Christian Bourget, representing Iranian Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh
Sadegh Ghotbzadeh
Sadegh Ghotbzadeh was a close aide of Ayatollah Khomeini during his 1978 exile in France, and Iranian Foreign Minister during the Iran hostage crisis following the Iranian Revolution...

. They "delivered a formal request to Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 for extradition of the Shah" which was "a pretext to cover secret negotiations to free the American hostages." This happened as the Soviets invaded Iran's neighbor Afghanistan
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

, an event America hoped would "illustrate the threat" of its superpower neighbor and need for better relations with the Soviet's enemy, America. Ghotbzadeh himself was eager to end the hostage taking, as "moderates" were being eliminated from the Iranian government one by one after being exposed by the student hostage takers as "traitors" and "spies" for having met at some time with an American official.

Carter aide Hamilton Jordan
Hamilton Jordan
William Hamilton McWhorter Jordan was Chief of Staff to President of the United States Jimmy Carter.-Early life:...

 flew to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 "wearing a disguise — a wig, false mustache and glasses" to meet with Ghotbzadeh. After "weeks of negotiation with ... emissaries, ... a complex multi-stepped plan" was "hammered out" that included the establishment of an international commission to study America's role in Iran. Rumours of a release leaked to the American public and on February 19, 1980, the American Vice President Walter Mondale
Walter Mondale
Walter Frederick "Fritz" Mondale is an American Democratic Party politician, who served as the 42nd Vice President of the United States , under President Jimmy Carter, and as a United States Senator for Minnesota...

 told an interviewer that "the crisis was nearing an end." The plan fell apart however after Ayatollah Khomeini gave a speech praising the embassy occupation as "a crushing blow to the world-devouring USA" and announced the fate of the hostages would be decided by the parliament (Majlis
Majlis
' , is an Arabic term meaning "a place of sitting", used in the context of "council", to describe various types of special gatherings among common interest groups be it administrative, social or religious in countries with linguistic or cultural connections to Islamic countries...

), which had yet to be seated or even elected. When the six-man international UN commission came to Iran they were not allowed to see the hostages, and President Abolhassan Banisadr
Abolhassan Banisadr
Abulhassan Banisadr is an Iranian politician, economist and human rights activist who served as the first President of Iran from 4 February 1980 after the 1979 Iranian Revolution and the abolition of the monarchy until his impeachment on 21 June 1981 by the Parliament of Iran...

 retreated from his criticism of the hostage takers, praising them as "young patriots."

The next unsuccessful attempt occurred in April and called first for the American president Carter to publicly promise not to "impose additional sanctions" on Iran. In exchange custody of the hostages would be transferred to the government of Iran, which after a short period would release the hostages — the Iranian president and foreign minister both opposing the continued holding of the hostages. To the American's surprise and disappointment, after Carter made his promise, President Bani-Sadr added additional demands: official American approval of resolution of the hostage question by Iran's parliament (which would leave the hostages in Tehran for another month or two), and a promise by Carter to refrain from making "hostile statements." Carter also agreed to these demands, but again Khomeini vetoed the plan. At this point Bani-Sadr announced he was "washing his hands of the hostage mess."

The death of the Shah on July 27 and the invasion of Iran by Iraq in September 1980 may have made Iran more receptive to the idea of resolving the hostage crisis. Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter in the November 1980 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1980
The United States presidential election of 1980 featured a contest between incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter and his Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, as well as Republican Congressman John B. Anderson, who ran as an independent...

 but Carter continued to attempt to negotiate the release of the hostages through Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher
Warren Christopher
Warren Minor Christopher was an American lawyer, diplomat and politician. During Bill Clinton's first term as President, Christopher served as the 63rd Secretary of State. He also served as Deputy Attorney General in the Lyndon Johnson administration, and as Deputy Secretary of State in the Jimmy...

, Algerian intermediaries and members of the Iranian government in the final days of his presidency.

Talks that finally succeeded in bringing a release began secretly in September 1980 and were initiated by Sadegh Tabatabai, a brother-in-law of Khomeini's son Ahmad
Ahmad Khomeini
Ahmad Khomeini , was the younger son of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. His wife is Fatemeh Soltani Tabatabai, daughter of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Bagher Soltani Tabatabai Borujerdi and niece of Imam Musa Sadr, the Shī‘ah religious leader of Libanon.Ahmad Khomeini was close to his father, the leader...

 and "a mid-level official" in the former-provisional revolutionary government. By this time resolution of the crisis was made easier by the fact that two of the hostage takers demands were met — the Shah was dead and "most" of his wealth had been "removed from American banks" — while the threat of war with Iraq made availability of American-made military spare parts for Iran's materiel important. Iranian demands for the release were now four: expression of remorse or an apology for the US historical role in Iran, unlocking of "Iranian assets in America and withdraw any legal claims against Iran arising from the embassy seizure, and promise not to interfere in the future." The demands were listed at the end of a speech by Khomeini considered "a major shift on Iran's side of the impasse" by journalists. Tabatabai, and Ahmad Khomeini secured the support of Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, the speaker of the Majlis.

The talks hammered out an agreement to bring to their higher-ups, with the US agreeing to three demands but not to an apology. Talks were stalled first by Iraq's invasion of Iran which Iranian officialdom blamed on the United States. Rafsanjani delivered a vote in parliament in favor of releasing the hostages. Then negotiations began over how much money US businesses owed Iran — Iran believing the sum to be $20 to $60 billion and the United States estimating it at "closer to $20 to 60 million." — and how much Iran owed US businesses. Negotiations continued through the American elections (which President Carter lost) with pressure being added by President elect Ronald Reagan's talk of not paying "ransom for people who have been kidnapped by barbarians." and a New Years Day threat from Radio Tehran that if the US did not accept Iran's demands the hostages would be tried as spies and executed.

On November 2, the Iranian parliament finally set forth formal conditions for the hostages' release and eight days later Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher arrived in Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

 with the first US reply setting off a slow motion diplomatic shuffle between Washington, Algiers and Tehran. Algeria mediated between the U.S. and Iran. In the final stages of the negotiations in Algiers
Algiers
' is the capital and largest city of Algeria. According to the 1998 census, the population of the city proper was 1,519,570 and that of the urban agglomeration was 2,135,630. In 2009, the population was about 3,500,000...

, the chief Algerian mediator was the Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammed Benyahia
Mohammed Seddik Ben Yahia
Mohammed Seddik Benyahia was an Algerian politician. Militant nationalist during the war in Algeria. After the independence he became the Minister of Information , Higher Education , Finance , and of Foreign Affairs .-Early life: He was born on January 30, 1932 in Jijel...

 who interacted primarily with Deputy Secretary of State
United States Deputy Secretary of State
The Deputy Secretary of State of the United States is the chief assistant to the Secretary of State. If the Secretary of State resigns or dies, the Deputy Secretary of State becomes Acting Secretary of State until the President nominates and the Senate confirms a replacement. The position was...

 Warren Christopher
Warren Christopher
Warren Minor Christopher was an American lawyer, diplomat and politician. During Bill Clinton's first term as President, Christopher served as the 63rd Secretary of State. He also served as Deputy Attorney General in the Lyndon Johnson administration, and as Deputy Secretary of State in the Jimmy...

 from the U.S. side. Former Algerian ambassador to the U.S. Abdulkarim Ghuraib also participated in the negotiations. The negotiations resulted in the "Algiers Accords
Algiers Accords
The Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981, were brokered by the Algerian government between the United States and Iran to resolve the Iran hostage crisis. The crisis arose from the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, and the taking hostage of the American staff there...

" of January 19, 1981. The Algiers Accords called for Iran's immediate freeing of the hostages, the unfreezing of $7.9 billion of Iranian assets and immunity from lawsuits Iran might have faced in America, and a pledge by the United States that "it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs." The Accords also created the Iran – United States Claims Tribunal (http://www.iusct.org/), and Iran deposited 1 billion dollars in an escrow account to satisfy claims adjudicated by the Tribunal in favor of American businesses which had lost assets after the hostage takeover. The Tribunal closed to new claims by private individuals on January 19, 1982. In total, it received approximately 4,700 private US claims. The Tribunal has ordered payments by Iran to US nationals totaling over USD 2.5 billion. Almost all private claims have now been resolved; but several intergovernmental claims are still before the Tribunal.

The hostages were released on the day President Carter's term ended. While Carter had an "obsession" with finishing the matter before stepping down, the hostage-takers are thought to have wanted the release delayed as punishment for his perceived support for the Shah. Iranians insisted on payment in gold rather than US dollars so the U.S. government transferred 50 tonnes of gold to Iran while simultaneously taking ownership of an equivalent quantity of Iranian gold that had been frozen at the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

Rescue attempts


After rejecting Iranian demands, Carter approved an ill-fated secret rescue mission, Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw was an American military operation ordered by President Jimmy Carter to attempt to put an end to the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 Americans held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on 24 April 1980...

. Late in the afternoon of April 24, 1980, eight RH-53D
CH-53 Sea Stallion
The CH-53 Sea Stallion is the most common name for the Sikorsky S-65 family of heavy-lift transport helicopters. Originally developed for use by the United States Marine Corps, it is also in service with Germany, Iran, Israel, and Mexico...

 helicopters flew from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz to a remote road serving as an airstrip in the Great Salt Desert
Dasht-e Kavir
Dasht-e Kavir , also known as Kavir-e Namak or Great Salt Desert is a large desert lying in the middle of the Iranian plateau. It is about 800 kilometers long and 320 kilometers wide with a total surface area of about 77,600 square kilometers , making it the Earth's 23rd largest desert...

 of Eastern Iran, near Tabas
Tabas
Tabas is a city in and capital of Tabas County, Yazd Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 30,681, in 7,962 families.Tabas is located in central Iran, 950 kilometers southeast of Tehran, in Yazd Province. Formerly it was part of the Khorasan province. It is a desert city with...

. Early the next morning six of the eight RH-53D
CH-53 Sea Stallion
The CH-53 Sea Stallion is the most common name for the Sikorsky S-65 family of heavy-lift transport helicopters. Originally developed for use by the United States Marine Corps, it is also in service with Germany, Iran, Israel, and Mexico...

 helicopters met up with several waiting C-130
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

 transport and refueling airplanes at the landing site and refueling area, designated "Desert One" by the mission.

Of the two helicopters that did not make it to Desert One, one suffered avionics failures en route and returned to the USS Nimitz, and the other had an indication that one of its main rotor blades was fractured, and was abandoned in the desert en route to Desert One. Its crew was seen and retrieved by another helicopter that continued to Desert One. The helicopters maintained strict radio silence under orders for the entire flight, an issue which impacted their ability to maintain a cohesive flying unit while en route, as they all arrived separately and behind schedule. The strict radio silence also prevented them from requesting permission to fly above the sandstorm
Haboob
A haboob is a type of intense duststorm carried on an atmospheric gravity current. Haboobs are regularly observed in arid regions throughout the world. They have been observed in the Sahara desert , as well as across the Arabian Peninsula, throughout Kuwait, and in the most arid regions of Iraq...

 as the C-130s had done, and they flew the entire route at hazardous low levels, even while inside the sandstorm
Haboob
A haboob is a type of intense duststorm carried on an atmospheric gravity current. Haboobs are regularly observed in arid regions throughout the world. They have been observed in the Sahara desert , as well as across the Arabian Peninsula, throughout Kuwait, and in the most arid regions of Iraq...

 and with limited field of vision and erratic instrumentation.

The mission plan called for a minimum of six helicopters but of the six that made it to Desert One, one had a failed primary hydraulics system and had flown on the secondary hydraulics system for the previous four hours.

The failing helicopter's crew wanted to continue, but due to the increased risk of not having a backup hydraulic system during flight, the helicopter squadron's commander decided to ground the helicopter. The commander of the operation, Col. Beckwith, then recommended the mission be aborted and his recommendation was approved by President Carter. As the helicopters repositioned themselves for refueling, one helicopter ran into a C-130 tanker aircraft and crashed, killing eight U.S. servicemen and injuring several more.

After the mission and its failure were made known publicly Khomeini's prestige skyrocketed in Iran as he credited divine intervention on behalf of Islam for the result. Iranian officials who favored release of the hostages, such as President Bani Sadr, were weakened. In America, President Carter's political popularity and prospects for being reelected in 1980 were further damaged after a television address on April 25, in which he explained the rescue operation.

A second rescue attempt that was planned but never attempted used highly modified YMC-130H Hercules
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

 aircraft. Outfitted with rocket thrusters fore and aft to allow an extremely short landing and takeoff in the Shahid Shiroudi soccer stadium located close to the embassy, three aircraft were modified under a rushed super-secret program known as Operation Credible Sport
Operation Credible Sport
Operation Credible Sport was a joint project of the United States military in the second half of 1980 to prepare for a second rescue attempt of the hostages held in Iran using a Lockheed C-130 Hercules airlifter modified with rocket engines...

. One aircraft crashed during a demonstration at Duke Field at Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located approximately 3 miles southwest of Valparaiso, Florida in Okaloosa County....

 Auxiliary Field 3 on October 29, 1980, when its landing braking rockets were fired too soon. The misfire caused a hard touchdown that tore off the starboard wing and started a fire; all on board survived. The impending change in the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

 following the November election led to an abandonment of this project. The two surviving airframes were returned to regular duty with the rocket packages removed. One is on display at the Museum of Aviation located next to Robins Air Force Base
Robins Air Force Base
Robins Air Force Base is a major United States Air Force base located in Houston County, Georgia, United States. The base is located just east of and adjacent to the city of Warner Robins, Georgia, SSE of Macon, Georgia, and about SSE of Atlanta, Georgia...

 in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

.

The aforementioned failed rescue attempt led to the creation of the 160th S.O.A.R., a helicopter aviation special forces group in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and the United States Special Operations Command
United States Special Operations Command
The United States Special Operations Command is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps of the United States Armed Forces. The command is part of the Department of Defense...

.

Release



On January 20, 1981, at the moment Reagan completed his 20-minute inaugural address after being sworn in as President
First inauguration of Ronald Reagan
The first inauguration of Ronald Reagan as the 40th President of the United States was held on January 20, 1981. The inauguration marked the commencement of the first four-year term of Ronald Reagan as President and George H. W. Bush as Vice President. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger administered...

, 52 American hostages were released by Iran into U.S. custody, having spent 444 days in captivity. The hostages were flown to Algeria as a symbolic gesture for the help of that government in resolving the crisis. The flight continued to Rhein-Main Air Base
Rhein-Main Air Base
Rhein-Main Air Base was a U.S. Air Force / NATO military airbase near the city of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It occupied the south side of Frankfurt International Airport. Its airport codes are discontinued....

 in West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 and on to Wiesbaden USAF Hospital, where former President Carter, acting as emissary, received them. After medical check-ups and debriefings, they took a second flight to Stewart Air National Guard Base
Stewart Air National Guard Base
Stewart Air National Guard Base is the home of the 105th Airlift Wing , an Air Mobility Command -gained unit of the New York Air National Guard and "host" wing for the installation...

 in Newburgh, New York
Newburgh (city), New York
Newburgh is a city located in Orange County, New York, United States, north of New York City, and south of Albany, on the Hudson River. Newburgh is a principal city of the Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown metropolitan area, which includes all of Dutchess and Orange counties. The Newburgh area was...

, with a refueling stop in Shannon
Shannon, County Clare
Shannon or Shannon Town , named after the river near which it stands, is a town located in County Clare. It was given town status on 1 January 1982. The town is located just off the N19 road, a spur of the N18/M18 road between Limerick city and Ennis....

, Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, where they were greeted by a large crowd. From Newburgh they traveled by bus to the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

, and stayed at the Thayer Hotel
Thayer Hotel
The Thayer Hotel is a 149-room "Historic Hotel of America" property located 50 miles north of New York City on the banks of the Hudson River at 674 Thayer Road in West Point, New York on the campus of the United States Military Academy...

 at West Point for three days receiving a heroes' welcome all along the route. Ten days after their release, the former hostages were given a ticker tape parade through the Canyon of Heroes in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

.

Iran–Iraq War


The Iraq invasion of Iran occurred less than a year after the embassy employees were taken hostage. At least one observer (Stephen Kinzer
Stephen Kinzer
Stephen Kinzer is a United States author and newspaper reporter. He is a veteran New York Times correspondent who has reported from more than fifty countries on five continents. During the 1980s he covered revolution and social upheaval in Central America...

) believes the dramatic change of US-Iranian relations from ally to enemy played a part in emboldening Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 to invade, and US anger with Iran led the US to aid Iraq
United States support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war
United States support for Iraq during the Iran–Iraq War, as a counterbalance to post-revolutionary Iran, included several billion dollars worth of economic aid, the sale of dual-use technology, non-U.S. origin weaponry, military intelligence, Special Operations training, and direct involvement in...

 after the war turned against Iraq. The US supplied Iraq with, among other things, "helicopters and satellite intelligence that was used in selecting bombing targets".

In turn, this aid and the shooting down of Iran Air Flight 655
Iran Air Flight 655
Iran Air Flight 655 was a civilian jet airliner shot down by U.S. missiles on 3 July 1988, over the Strait of Hormuz, toward the end of the Iran–Iraq War...

 in the Persian Gulf by the US Navy Cruiser USS Vincennes
USS Vincennes (CG-49)
The fourth USS Vincennes is a U.S. Navy Ticonderoga class Aegis guided missile cruiser. On July 3, 1988, the ship shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 civilian passengers on board, including 38 non-Iranians and 66 children.The ship was launched 14 April 1984 and...

 in 1988 "deepened and widened anti-American feeling in Iran."

Iran


The hostage taking was unsuccessful for the Islamic Republic in some respects. Iran lost international support for its war against Iraq, and the settlement was considered almost wholly favorable to the United States since it did not meet any of Iran's original demands. But the crisis strengthened Iranians who supported the hostage taking. Anti-Americanism became even more intense, and anti-American rhetoric continued unabated. Politicians such as Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha
Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha
Ayatollah Mohammad Mousavi Khoeiniha is an Iranian cleric and secretary general of the reformist Association of Combatant Clerics. He was a founder of the now banned Salam newspaper and is a member of the Expediency Discernment Council.-Overview:Khoeiniha was prosecutor general of Iran after...

 and Behzad Nabavi
Behzad Nabavi
Behzad Nabavi is an Iranian politician. He served as Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Iran and was one of the founders of the reformist party Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization...

 were left in a stronger position, while those associated or accused of association with America were removed from the political picture. Khomeini biographer Baqer Moin
Baqer Moin
Baqer Moin is a BBC journalist and author. He has been described as "a specialist on Iran and Islam and is head of the BBC's Persian Service" and as "BBC's Central Asia specialist"...

 describes the incident as "a watershed in Khomeini's life" transforming him from a "cautious, pragmatic politician" into "a modern revolutionary, single-mindedly pursing a dogma". In his statements, "imperialism, liberalism, democracy" were "negative words", while "revolution ... became a sacred word, sometimes more important than Islam."

Some have suggested that the greatest benefit of the take-over of the American embassy was the acquisition of intelligence information contained within the embassy, including the identity of informants to the US government, which the new Islamic republic could use to remove potential dissenters and consolidate its gains and stabilize its place.

Iranian government commemorates the event every year by demonstration at the embassy and burning US flag but on November 4, 2009, when pro-democracy protesters and reformists demonstrated in the streets of Tehran, despite Iranian government authorities encouraging people to chant "Death to America," protesters instead chanted "Death to the Dictator" (referring to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i is the Supreme Leader of Iran and the figurative head of the Muslim conservative establishment in Iran and Twelver Shi'a marja...

) and other anti-government slogans.

United States


In the United States, gifts were showered upon the hostages upon their return, including lifetime passes to any minor league
Minor league baseball
Minor league baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball and provide opportunities for player development. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses...

 or Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 game.

In 2000, the hostages and their families tried to sue Iran, unsuccessfully, under the Antiterrorism Act
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996
The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-132, 110 Stat. 1214, is an act of Congress signed into law on April 24, 1996...

. They originally won the case when Iran failed to provide a defense, but the U.S. State Department
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 tried to put an end to the suit, fearing that it would make international relations difficult. As a result, a federal judge ruled that nothing could be done to repay the damages the hostages faced because of the agreement the U.S. made when the hostages were freed.

The US embassy building is used by Iran's government and its affiliated groups. Since 2001, the building serves as a museum to the revolution.
Outside the door stand a bronze model based on New York's Statue of Liberty on one side and a statue portraying one of the hostages on the other.

The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

reported in 2006 that a group called The Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign used the US embassy to recruit "martyrdom seekers", volunteers to carry out operations against Western and Jewish targets. Mohammad Samadi, a spokesman for the group, signed up several hundred volunteers in a few days.

Long term effect


Some doubt the hostage crisis will have a long term effect on US-Iranian relations. Journalist Robert Kaplan
Robert D. Kaplan
Robert David Kaplan is an American journalist, currently a National Correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly...

 argues that those who believe relations between the two countries "will never be restored because of the hostage crisis .... ignore history," and compares the hostage taking to a 19th century Iranian attack on the Russian embassy.
In 1829, ... Iranians ... stormed and destroyed the Russian embassy and decapitated the Russian ambassador, Alexander Griboyedov. But Russian-Iranian relations were eventually restored. Who, now, even remembers the incident?

Hostages


November 4, 1979 - January 20, 1981: 66 original captives, 63 taken at the Embassy, three captured and held at Foreign Ministry Office.

Three of the hostages were operatives of the CIA.

Thirteen hostages were released from November 19–20, 1979, and one was released on July 11, 1980. Fifty-two remaining hostages endured 444 days of captivity until their release January 20, 1981.

Six diplomats who evaded capture


  • Robert Anders, 34 - Consular Officer
  • Mark J. Lijek, 29 - Consular Officer
  • Cora A. Lijek, 25 - Consular Assistant
  • Henry L. Schatz, 31 - Agriculture Attaché
  • Joseph D. Stafford, 29 - Consular Officer
  • Kathleen F. Stafford, 28 - Consular Assistant

13 hostages released


From November 19–20, 1979, thirteen women and men who had been captured and held hostage were released:
  • Kathy Gross, 22 - Secretary
  • Sgt. James Hughes, 30 - USAF Administrative Manager
  • Lillian Johnson, 32 - Secretary
  • Sgt. Ladell Maples, 23 - USMC Embassy Guard
  • Elizabeth Montagne, 42 - Secretary
  • Sgt. William Quarles, 23 - USMC Embassy Guard
  • Lloyd Rollins, 40 - Administrative Officer
  • Capt. Neal (Terry) Robinson - USAF Military Intelligence Officer
  • Sgt. David Walker, 25 - USMC Embassy guard
  • Joan Walsh, 33 - Secretary
  • Cpl. Wesley Williams, 24 - USMC Embassy Guard

Richard I. Queen released


On July 11. 1980, 28-year-old Vice Consul Richard I. Queen, who had been captured and held hostage, was released after becoming seriously ill. He was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an inflammatory disease in which the fatty myelin sheaths around the axons of the brain and spinal cord are damaged, leading to demyelination and scarring as well as a broad spectrum of signs and symptoms...

. (Died August 14, 2002.)

52 remaining hostages released


The following fifty-two remaining hostages were held captive until January 20, 1981.

  • Thomas L. Ahern, Jr., - Narcotics Control Officer (later identified as CIA station chief)
  • Clair Cortland Barnes, 35 - Communications Specialist
  • William E. Belk, 44 - Communications and Records Officer
  • Robert O. Blucker, 54 - Economics Officer Specializing in Oil (Died 4/3/2003)
  • Donald J. Cooke, 25 - Vice Consul
  • William J. Daugherty, 33 - 3rd Secretary of U.S. Mission (CIA officer )
  • Lt. Cmdr. Robert Englemann, 34 - USN
    United States Navy
    The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

     Attaché
  • Sgt. William Gallegos, 22 - USMC Guard
  • Bruce W. German, 44 - Budget Officer
  • Duane L. Gillette, 24 - USN Communications and Intelligence Specialist
  • Alan B. Golacinski, 30 - Chief of Embassy Security
  • John E. Graves, 53 - Public Affairs Officer (Died 4/27/2001)
  • Joseph M. Hall, 32 - CWO
    Warrant Officer (United States)
    In the United States military, the rank of warrant officer is rated as an officer above the senior-most enlisted ranks, as well as officer cadets and candidates, but below the officer grade of O-1...

     Military Attaché
  • Sgt. Kevin J. Hermening, 21 - USMC Guard
  • Sgt. 1st Class Donald R. Hohman, 38 - U.S. Army
    United States Army
    The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

     Medic
  • Col. Leland J. Holland, 53 - Military Attaché (Died 10/2/1990)
  • Michael Howland, 34 - Assistant Chief of Security, held at Iranian Foreign Ministry Office
  • Charles A. Jones, Jr., 40 - Communications Specialist, Teletype Operator. (The only African American hostage not released in November 1979)
  • Malcolm Kalp, 42 - Commercial Officer (Died 4/7/2002)
  • Moorhead C. Kennedy Jr., 50 - Economic and Commercial Officer
  • William F. Keough, Jr., 50 - Superintendent of American School in Islamabad
    Islamabad
    Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and the tenth largest city in the country. Located within the Islamabad Capital Territory , the population of the city has grown from 100,000 in 1951 to 1.7 million in 2011...

    , Pakistan
    Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

    , visiting Tehran at time of embassy seizure (Died 11/27/1985)
  • Cpl. Steven W. Kirtley - USMC Guard
  • Kathryn L. Koob, 42 - Embassy Cultural Officer; one of two female hostages
  • Frederick Lee Kupke, 34 - Communications Officer and Electronics Specialist
  • L. Bruce Laingen
    Bruce Laingen
    Lowell Bruce Laingen was the senior American official held hostage during the Iran hostage crisis.-Biography:Laingen, born on a farm in southern Minnesota, graduated from St. Olaf College. He also studied at the National War College, and received a M.A. in International Relations from the...

    , 58 - Chargé d'Affaires, held at Iranian Foreign Ministry Office
  • Steven Lauterbach, 29 - Administrative Officer
  • Gary E. Lee, 37 - Administrative Officer (Died 10/10/2010)
  • Sgt. Paul Edward Lewis, 23 - USMC Guard
  • John W. Limbert, Jr.
    John Limbert
    Ambassador John W. Limbert is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran in the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. He is a veteran U.S. diplomat and a former official at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, where he was held captive during the Iran hostage...

    , 37 - Political Officer
  • Sgt. James M. Lopez, 22 - USMC Guard

  • Sgt. John D. McKeel, Jr., 27 - USMC Guard (Died 11/1/1991)
  • Michael J. Metrinko, 34 - Political Officer
  • Jerry J. Miele, 42 - Communications Officer
  • Staff Sgt. Michael E. Moeller, 31 - Head of USMC Guard Unit at Embassy
  • Bert C. Moore, 45 - Counselor for Administration (Died 6/8/2000)
  • Richard Morefield
    Richard Morefield
    Richard Henry Morefield served in the United States Foreign Service and was one of the 66 staff members at the American embassy in Teheran who were taken captive by a militant Islamist student group called the Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line on November 4, 1979, as part of what became...

    , 51 - U.S. Consul General in Tehran (Died 10/11/2010)
  • Capt. Paul M. Needham, Jr., 30 - USAF Logistics Staff Officer
  • Robert C. Ode, 65 - Retired Foreign Service Officer on Temporary Duty in Tehran (Died 9/8/1995)
  • Sgt. Gregory A. Persinger, 23 - USMC Guard
  • Jerry Plotkin, 45 - civilian businessman visiting Tehran (Died 6/6/1996)
  • MSgt. Regis Ragan, 38 - US Army soldier, Defense Attaché's Office
  • Lt. Col. David M. Roeder, 41 - Deputy USAF Attaché
  • Barry M. Rosen, 36 - Press Attaché
  • William B. Royer, Jr., 49 - Assistant Director of Iran-American Society
  • Col. Thomas E. Schaefer, 50 - USAF Attaché
  • Col. Charles W. Scott, 48 - US Army Attaché
  • Cmdr. Donald A. Sharer, 40 - USN Attaché
  • Sgt. Rodney V. (Rocky) Sickmann, 22 - USMC Guard
  • Staff Sgt. Joseph Subic, Jr., 23 - Military Police, US Army, Defense Attaché's Staff
  • Elizabeth Ann Swift, 40 - Deputy Head of the Political Section; 1 of 2 female hostages (Died 5/7/2004)
  • Victor L. Tomseth, 39 - Counselor for Political Affairs, held at Iranian Foreign Ministry Office
  • Phillip R. Ward, 40 - Communications officer CIA, Assigned to Brandy Station, Va.


Hostages awarded


For their service during the hostage crisis, the US military later awarded the 20 servicemen who were among the hostages the Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
The Defense Meritorious Service Medal is the third-highest award bestowed upon members of the United States military by the United States Department of Defense...

. The only hostage serviceman not to be issued the medal was Staff Sgt. Joseph Subic, Jr. The reason given was that Subic "did not behave under stress the way noncommissioned officers are expected to act," i.e. he cooperated with the hostage-takers, according to other hostages.

For their part in the mission, the Humanitarian Service Medal
Humanitarian Service Medal
The Humanitarian Service Medal is a military service medal of the United States armed forces which was created on January 19, 1977 by President Gerald Ford under...

 was awarded to the servicemen of Joint Task Force (JTF) 1-79 (the planning authority for Operation Rice Bowl/Eagle Claw) who participated in the rescue attempt.

Also, the USAF special ops component of the mission was awarded the AF Outstanding Unit award for that year for performing their part of the mission flawlessly, to include accomplishing the evacuation of the entire Desert One site after the accident and under extreme conditions.

Several of the State Department employees, including Donald J. Cooke, L. Bruce Laingen, John W. Limbert Jr., Alan B. Golacinski, and Barry M. Rosen, were awarded the Award for Valor for their courage during captivity.

Civilian hostages


A small number of hostages were not connected to the diplomatic staff. All had been released by late 1981.
  • Mohi Sobhani, an Iranian-American
    Iranian-American
    Iranian-Americans are Americans of Iranian ancestry or people possessing Iranian and American dual citizenship.Iranian-Americans are amongst the most highly educated groups in the United States...

     engineer
    Engineer
    An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

     and a member of the Bahá'í Faith
    Bahá'í Faith
    The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

    . Released 2/4/1981. (Died 7/12/2005)
  • Zia Nassery/Nassri, an Afghan-American. Released 2/4/1981.
  • Cynthia Dwyer, an American reporter, was eventually charged with espionage
    Espionage
    Espionage or spying involves an individual obtaining information that is considered secret or confidential without the permission of the holder of the information. Espionage is inherently clandestine, lest the legitimate holder of the information change plans or take other countermeasures once it...

     and expelled 2/10/1981.
  • Electronic Data Systems
    Electronic Data Systems
    HP Enterprise Services is the global business and technology services division of Hewlett Packard's HP Enterprise Business strategic business unit. It was formed by the combination of HP's legacy services consulting and outsourcing business and the integration of acquired Electronic Data Systems,...

     employees Paul Chiapparone and Bill Gaylord rescued by Ross Perot
    Ross Perot
    Henry Ross Perot is a U.S. businessman best known for running for President of the United States in 1992 and 1996. Perot founded Electronic Data Systems in 1962, sold the company to General Motors in 1984, and founded Perot Systems in 1988...

    -funded operation (see Arthur D. Simons
    Arthur D. Simons
    Colonel Arthur D. "Bull" Simons was a US Army Special Forces officer, best known for leading the Son Tay raid, an attempted rescue of American prisoners of war from a North Vietnamese prison at Son Tay.-Early life:Arthur David Simons was born in New York City, moving to Missouri in his youth...

    ) in 1979.
  • Four British
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     missionaries

Notable hostage takers, guards, interrogators

  • Hussein Sheikholeslam
    Hussein Sheikholeslam
    Hussein Sheikholeslam is a member of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was also the Iranian ambassador to Syria.Sheikholeslam is one of the "students" who held Americans hostage during the Iran hostage crisis....

  • Ebrahim Asgharzadeh
    Ebrahim Asgharzadeh
    Ebrahim Asgharzadeh is an Iranian political activist and politician. He served as a member of the 3rd Majlis from 1989–1993 and as a member of the first City Council of Tehran from 1999–2003...

  • Mohsen Mirdamadi
    Mohsen Mirdamadi
    Mohsen Mirdamadi, was an organizer of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, a member of the parliament of Iran from 2000-2004, and the "head of the largest pro-reform party" in Iran, Islamic Iran Participation Front since 2006....

    , MP
  • Masoumeh Ebtekar
    Masoumeh Ebtekar
    Masoumeh Ebtekar is an Iranian scientist, journalist and politician. She is currently the director of Peace and Environment Center in Tehran.Ebtekar first achieved fame as the spokeswoman of the students who had occupied the US Embassy in 1979...

    , interpreter

External links