Iranian Embassy Siege

Iranian Embassy Siege

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The Iranian Embassy siege took place from 30 April to 5 May 1980, after a group of six armed men stormed the Iranian embassy in South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

, London. The gunmen took 26 people hostage—mostly embassy staff, but several visitors and a police officer, who had been guarding the embassy, were also held. The hostage-takers, members of a group campaigning for the autonomy of Iran's Khūzestān Province
Khuzestan Province
Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz and covers an area of 63,238 km²...

, demanded the release of Arab prisoners from jails in Khūzestān and their own safe passage out of the United Kingdom. The British government quickly resolved that safe passage would not be granted, and a siege ensued. Over the following days, police negotiators secured the release of five hostages in exchange for minor concessions, such as the broadcasting of the hostage-takers' demands on British television.

By the sixth day of the siege the gunmen had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress in meeting their demands. That evening, they killed one of the hostages and threw his body out of the embassy. As a result, the British government ordered the Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (SAS), a special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 regiment of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, to conduct an assault to rescue the remaining hostages. Shortly afterwards, soldiers abseil
Abseiling
Abseiling , rappelling in American English, is the controlled descent down a rock face using a rope; climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection.- Slang terms :...

ed from the roof of the building and forced entry through the windows. During the 17-minute raid, the SAS rescued all but one of the remaining hostages, and killed five of the six terrorists. The soldiers subsequently faced accusations that they unnecessarily killed two of the terrorists, but an inquest into the deaths eventually cleared the SAS of any wrongdoing. The remaining terrorist was prosecuted and served 27 years in British prisons.

The hostage-takers and their cause were largely forgotten after the Iran–Iraq War broke out later in 1980, but the operation brought the SAS to the public eye for the first time and bolstered the reputation of Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

. The SAS was quickly overwhelmed by the number of applications it received from people inspired by the operation and, at the same time, experienced greater demand for its expertise from foreign governments. It was not until 1993 that 16 Princes Gate, having suffered major damage from a fire that broke out during the assault, was re-opened as the Iranian embassy.

Motives



The hostage-takers were members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA)—Iranian Arabs protesting for the restoration of regional autonomy to the Iranian province of Khūzestān
Khuzestan Province
Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz and covers an area of 63,238 km²...

, also known as Arabistan. The oil-rich area was the source of much of Iran's wealth, having been developed by multi-national companies during the reign of the Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

. It became part of Iran (then known as Persia) after an exchange of land between Persia and the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 in 1847. Khūzestān operated largely autonomously from then until 1925, when the Rezā Shāh
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...

 suppressed its people and ended its relative independence. The Khūzestāni people rebelled after 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...

, but the revolt was crushed by Shah 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 campaign for autonomy did not re-ignite until 1978, when Khūzestāni oil workers went on strike.

The strike cut off fuel supplies to Tehran, the country's capital, contributing to the 1979 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...

 in which the Shah was overthrown and Iran became an Islamic republic under an 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...

. The Khūzestānis had hoped that their regional autonomy would be restored in the wake of the revolution, but Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

 refused, sparking a violent uprising in the province. Several thousand protesters gathered in the town of Khorramshahr
Khorramshahr
Khorramshahr is a city in and the capital of Khorramshahr County, Khuzestan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 123,866, in 26,385 families.Khorramshahr is a port city located approximately north of Abadan...

 on 29 May 1979; rioting broke out and Iranian Revolutionary Guards opened fire, allegedly killing more than 200 people. According to Oan Ali Mohammed, the events at Khorramshahr were the spark that led to his desire to attack the Iranian Embassy in London—a plan inspired by the Iran hostage crisis
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

 in which supporters of the revolution held the staff of the American embassy in Tehran hostage.

Arrival in London


Using Iraqi passports, Oan and three other members of the DRFLA arrived in London on 31 March 1980 and rented a flat in Earls Court
Earls Court
Earls Court is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It is an inner-city district centred on Earl's Court Road and surrounding streets, located 3.1 miles west south-west of Charing Cross. It borders the sub-districts of South Kensington to the East, West...

. They claimed they had met by chance on the flight. The men typically returned to the flat drunk, late at night, and sometimes accompanied by prostitutes. Within a week, the housekeeper asked them to leave. They soon found another flat, where they told their new landlord they were moving because they had been joined by other men and required larger accommodation. Over the following days, the group swelled, with up to a dozen men in the flat on one occasion.

Oan was 27 and from Khūzestān; he had studied at 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...

, where he became politically active. He had been imprisoned by 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...

, the Shah's secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

, and bore scars which he said were from torture in SAVAK custody. The other members of his group were Shakir Abdullah Radhil, known as "Faisal", Oan's second-in-command who also claimed to have been tortured by SAVAK; Shakir Sultan Said, or "Hassan"; Themir Moammed Hussein, or Abbas; Fowzi Badavi Nejad, or "Ali"; and Makki Hanoun Ali, the youngest of the group, who went by the name of "Makki".

On 30 April the men informed their landlord that they were going to Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 for a week and then returning to Iraq, stated that they would no longer require the flat, and arranged for their belongings to be sent to Iraq. They left the building at 09:30 (BST
British Summer Time
Western European Summer Time is a summer daylight saving time scheme, 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. It is used in the following places:* the Canary Islands* Portugal * Ireland...

) on 30 April. Their initial destination is unknown, but en route to the Iranian Embassy they collected firearms (including pistols and submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

s), ammunition and hand grenades. The weapons, predominantly Soviet-made, are believed to have been smuggled into the United Kingdom in a diplomatic bag
Diplomatic bag
A diplomatic bag, also known as a diplomatic pouch is a kind of receptacle used by diplomatic missions. The physical concept of a "diplomatic bag" is flexible and therefore can take many forms e.g. an envelope, parcel, large suitcase or shipping container, etc...

 belonging to Iraq. Shortly before 11:30, and almost two hours after vacating the nearby flat in Lexham Gardens in South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

, the six men arrived outside the embassy.

Special Air Service


The Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (SAS) is a regiment of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and part of the United Kingdom's special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

. The regiment was formed by Colonel David Stirling
David Stirling
Colonel Sir Archibald David Stirling, DSO, DFC, OBE was a Scottish laird, mountaineer, World War II British Army officer, and the founder of the Special Air Service.-Life before the war:...

 in Africa in 1941, at the height of the Second World War. Its original role was to penetrate enemy lines and strike at airfields and supply lines deep in enemy territory, first in North Africa and later around the Mediterranean and in occupied Europe. Stirling established the principle of using small teams, usually of just four men, to carry out raids—having realised that a four-man team could sometimes prove much more effective than a unit of hundreds of soldiers.

Western governments were prompted to form specialist anti-terrorist units following the "Munich massacre
Munich massacre
The Munich massacre is an informal name for events that occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Bavaria in southern West Germany, when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September. Members of Black September...

". During the 1972 Olympic Games, a firefight between a group of hostage-takers and West German police left a police officer and all the hostages dead. The British government, worried that the country was unprepared for a similar crisis in the United Kingdom, ordered the formation of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) Wing of the SAS, which became the UK's primary anti-terrorist and anti-hijacking unit. The SAS had taken part in counter-insurgency operations abroad since 1945, and had trained the bodyguards of influential people whose deaths would be contrary to British interests. Thus, it was believed to be better prepared for the role than any unit in the police or elsewhere in the armed forces. The CRW Wing's first operational experience was the storming of Lufthansa Flight 181
Lufthansa Flight 181
Lufthansa Flight 181 was a Lufthansa Boeing 737-230 Adv aircraft named Landshut that was hijacked on October 13, 1977 by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine...

 in 1977, when a small detachment of soldiers were sent to assist GSG 9
GSG 9
The GSG 9 der Bundespolizei , is the elite counter-terrorism and special operations unit of the German Federal Police.-History and name:...

—the elite West German police unit set up after the events of 1972.

Day one: 30 April



At approximately 11:30 on Wednesday, 30 April the six heavily armed members of DRFLA stormed the Iranian Embassy building on Princes Gate, South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

. The gunmen quickly overpowered Police Constable Trevor Lock of the Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan police
Metropolitan Police is a generic title for the municipal police force for a major metropolitan area, and it may be part of the official title of the force...

's Diplomatic Protection Group
Diplomatic Protection Group
The Diplomatic Protection Group is a Specialist Operations branch of London's Metropolitan Police Service. The unit's main purpose is to provide specialist protection for diplomatic residencies in London, such as embassies, high commissions and consular sections...

 (DPG). Lock was carrying a concealed Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson is the largest manufacturer of handguns in the United States. The corporate headquarters is in Springfield, Massachusetts. Founded in 1852, Smith & Wesson's pistols and revolvers have become standard issue to police and armed forces throughout the world...

 .38-calibre revolver, but was unable to draw it before he was overpowered, although he did manage to press the "panic button" on his radio. Lock was later frisked, but the gunman conducting the search did not find the constable's weapon. He remained in possession of the revolver, and refused to remove his coat—which he told the gunmen was to "preserve his image" as a police officer—in order to keep it concealed. The officer also refused offers of food throughout the siege for fear that the weapon would be seen if he had to use the toilet and a gunman decided to escort him.

Although the majority of the people in the embassy were captured, three managed to escape—two by climbing out of a ground-floor window and the third by climbing across a first-floor parapet to the Ethiopian Embassy next door. A fourth person, Gholam-Ali Afrouz—the chargé d'affaires and thus the most senior Iranian official present—briefly escaped by jumping out of a first-floor window, but was injured in the process and quickly captured. Afrouz and the 25 other hostages were all taken to a room on the second floor. The majority of the hostages were embassy staff—predominantly Iranian nationals, but several British employees were also captured. The other hostages were all visitors, with the exception of Lock, the British police officer tasked with guarding the embassy. Afrouz had been appointed to the position less than a year before, his predecessor having been dismissed after the revolution. Abbas Fallahi, who had been a butler before the revolution, was appointed the doorman by Afrouz. One of the British members of staff was Ron Morris, from Battersea
Battersea
Battersea is an area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It is an inner-city district of South London, situated on the south side of the River Thames, 2.9 miles south-west of Charing Cross. Battersea spans from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east...

, who had worked for the embassy in various positions since 1947.

During the course of the siege, police and journalists established the identities of several other hostages. Mustapha Karkouti
Mustapha Karkouti
Mustapha Karkouti is a Syrian born freelance journalist and media consultant, residing in London since the early 1970s.-Personal and career background:...

 was a journalist covering the crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran and was at the embassy for an interview with Abdul Fazi Ezzati, the cultural attaché. Muhammad Hashir Faruqi was another journalist, at the embassy to interview Afrouz for an article on the Iranian Revolution. Sim Haris and Chris Cramer, both employees of the BBC, were at the embassy attempting to obtain visas to visit Iran—hoping to cover the aftermath of the 1979 revolution—after several unsuccessful attempts. They found themselves sitting next to Moutaba Mehrnavard, who was there to consult Ahmad Dadgar, the embassy's medical adviser, and Ali Aghar Tabatabal, who was collecting a map for use in a presentation he had been asked to give at the end of a course he had been attending.
Hostage Occupation Fate


{{Campaignbox Khuzestan Arab insurgency}}
The Iranian Embassy siege took place from 30 April to 5 May 1980, after a group of six armed men stormed the Iranian embassy in South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

, London. The gunmen took 26 people hostage—mostly embassy staff, but several visitors and a police officer, who had been guarding the embassy, were also held. The hostage-takers, members of a group campaigning for the autonomy of Iran's Khūzestān Province
Khuzestan Province
Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz and covers an area of 63,238 km²...

, demanded the release of Arab prisoners from jails in Khūzestān and their own safe passage out of the United Kingdom. The British government quickly resolved that safe passage would not be granted, and a siege ensued. Over the following days, police negotiators secured the release of five hostages in exchange for minor concessions, such as the broadcasting of the hostage-takers' demands on British television.

By the sixth day of the siege the gunmen had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress in meeting their demands. That evening, they killed one of the hostages and threw his body out of the embassy. As a result, the British government ordered the Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (SAS), a special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 regiment of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, to conduct an assault to rescue the remaining hostages. Shortly afterwards, soldiers abseil
Abseiling
Abseiling , rappelling in American English, is the controlled descent down a rock face using a rope; climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection.- Slang terms :...

ed from the roof of the building and forced entry through the windows. During the 17-minute raid, the SAS rescued all but one of the remaining hostages, and killed five of the six terrorists. The soldiers subsequently faced accusations that they unnecessarily killed two of the terrorists, but an inquest into the deaths eventually cleared the SAS of any wrongdoing. The remaining terrorist was prosecuted and served 27 years in British prisons.

The hostage-takers and their cause were largely forgotten after the Iran–Iraq War broke out later in 1980, but the operation brought the SAS to the public eye for the first time and bolstered the reputation of Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

. The SAS was quickly overwhelmed by the number of applications it received from people inspired by the operation and, at the same time, experienced greater demand for its expertise from foreign governments. It was not until 1993 that 16 Princes Gate, having suffered major damage from a fire that broke out during the assault, was re-opened as the Iranian embassy.

Motives



The hostage-takers were members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA)—Iranian Arabs protesting for the restoration of regional autonomy to the Iranian province of Khūzestān
Khuzestan Province
Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz and covers an area of 63,238 km²...

, also known as Arabistan. The oil-rich area was the source of much of Iran's wealth, having been developed by multi-national companies during the reign of the Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

. It became part of Iran (then known as Persia) after an exchange of land between Persia and the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 in 1847. Khūzestān operated largely autonomously from then until 1925, when the Rezā Shāh
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...

 suppressed its people and ended its relative independence. The Khūzestāni people rebelled after 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...

, but the revolt was crushed by Shah 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 campaign for autonomy did not re-ignite until 1978, when Khūzestāni oil workers went on strike.

The strike cut off fuel supplies to Tehran, the country's capital, contributing to the 1979 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...

 in which the Shah was overthrown and Iran became an Islamic republic under an 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...

. The Khūzestānis had hoped that their regional autonomy would be restored in the wake of the revolution, but Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

 refused, sparking a violent uprising in the province. Several thousand protesters gathered in the town of Khorramshahr
Khorramshahr
Khorramshahr is a city in and the capital of Khorramshahr County, Khuzestan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 123,866, in 26,385 families.Khorramshahr is a port city located approximately north of Abadan...

 on 29 May 1979; rioting broke out and Iranian Revolutionary Guards opened fire, allegedly killing more than 200 people. According to Oan Ali Mohammed,{{#tag:ref|Also spelt "Awn", codenamed "Salim" by the police.|group="note"}} the events at Khorramshahr were the spark that led to his desire to attack the Iranian Embassy in London—a plan inspired by the Iran hostage crisis
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

 in which supporters of the revolution held the staff of the American embassy in Tehran hostage.

Arrival in London


Using Iraqi passports, Oan and three other members of the DRFLA arrived in London on 31 March 1980 and rented a flat in Earls Court
Earls Court
Earls Court is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It is an inner-city district centred on Earl's Court Road and surrounding streets, located 3.1 miles west south-west of Charing Cross. It borders the sub-districts of South Kensington to the East, West...

. They claimed they had met by chance on the flight. The men typically returned to the flat drunk, late at night, and sometimes accompanied by prostitutes. Within a week, the housekeeper asked them to leave. They soon found another flat, where they told their new landlord they were moving because they had been joined by other men and required larger accommodation. Over the following days, the group swelled, with up to a dozen men in the flat on one occasion.

Oan was 27 and from Khūzestān; he had studied at 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...

, where he became politically active. He had been imprisoned by 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...

, the Shah's secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

, and bore scars which he said were from torture in SAVAK custody. The other members of his group were Shakir Abdullah Radhil, known as "Faisal", Oan's second-in-command who also claimed to have been tortured by SAVAK; Shakir Sultan Said, or "Hassan"; Themir Moammed Hussein, or Abbas; Fowzi Badavi Nejad, or "Ali"; and Makki Hanoun Ali, the youngest of the group, who went by the name of "Makki".

On 30 April the men informed their landlord that they were going to Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 for a week and then returning to Iraq, stated that they would no longer require the flat, and arranged for their belongings to be sent to Iraq. They left the building at 09:30 (BST
British Summer Time
Western European Summer Time is a summer daylight saving time scheme, 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. It is used in the following places:* the Canary Islands* Portugal * Ireland...

) on 30 April. Their initial destination is unknown, but en route to the Iranian Embassy they collected firearms (including pistols and submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

s), ammunition and hand grenades. The weapons, predominantly Soviet-made, are believed to have been smuggled into the United Kingdom in a diplomatic bag
Diplomatic bag
A diplomatic bag, also known as a diplomatic pouch is a kind of receptacle used by diplomatic missions. The physical concept of a "diplomatic bag" is flexible and therefore can take many forms e.g. an envelope, parcel, large suitcase or shipping container, etc...

 belonging to Iraq. Shortly before 11:30, and almost two hours after vacating the nearby flat in Lexham Gardens in South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

, the six men arrived outside the embassy.

Special Air Service


The Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (SAS) is a regiment of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and part of the United Kingdom's special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

. The regiment was formed by Colonel David Stirling
David Stirling
Colonel Sir Archibald David Stirling, DSO, DFC, OBE was a Scottish laird, mountaineer, World War II British Army officer, and the founder of the Special Air Service.-Life before the war:...

 in Africa in 1941, at the height of the Second World War. Its original role was to penetrate enemy lines and strike at airfields and supply lines deep in enemy territory, first in North Africa and later around the Mediterranean and in occupied Europe. Stirling established the principle of using small teams, usually of just four men, to carry out raids—having realised that a four-man team could sometimes prove much more effective than a unit of hundreds of soldiers.

Western governments were prompted to form specialist anti-terrorist units following the "Munich massacre
Munich massacre
The Munich massacre is an informal name for events that occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Bavaria in southern West Germany, when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September. Members of Black September...

". During the 1972 Olympic Games, a firefight between a group of hostage-takers and West German police left a police officer and all the hostages dead. The British government, worried that the country was unprepared for a similar crisis in the United Kingdom, ordered the formation of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) Wing of the SAS, which became the UK's primary anti-terrorist and anti-hijacking unit. The SAS had taken part in counter-insurgency operations abroad since 1945, and had trained the bodyguards of influential people whose deaths would be contrary to British interests. Thus, it was believed to be better prepared for the role than any unit in the police or elsewhere in the armed forces. The CRW Wing's first operational experience was the storming of Lufthansa Flight 181
Lufthansa Flight 181
Lufthansa Flight 181 was a Lufthansa Boeing 737-230 Adv aircraft named Landshut that was hijacked on October 13, 1977 by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine...

 in 1977, when a small detachment of soldiers were sent to assist GSG 9
GSG 9
The GSG 9 der Bundespolizei , is the elite counter-terrorism and special operations unit of the German Federal Police.-History and name:...

—the elite West German police unit set up after the events of 1972.

Day one: 30 April



At approximately 11:30 on Wednesday, 30 April the six heavily armed members of DRFLA stormed the Iranian Embassy building on Princes Gate, South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

. The gunmen quickly overpowered Police Constable Trevor Lock of the Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan police
Metropolitan Police is a generic title for the municipal police force for a major metropolitan area, and it may be part of the official title of the force...

's Diplomatic Protection Group
Diplomatic Protection Group
The Diplomatic Protection Group is a Specialist Operations branch of London's Metropolitan Police Service. The unit's main purpose is to provide specialist protection for diplomatic residencies in London, such as embassies, high commissions and consular sections...

 (DPG). Lock was carrying a concealed Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson is the largest manufacturer of handguns in the United States. The corporate headquarters is in Springfield, Massachusetts. Founded in 1852, Smith & Wesson's pistols and revolvers have become standard issue to police and armed forces throughout the world...

 .38-calibre revolver, but was unable to draw it before he was overpowered, although he did manage to press the "panic button" on his radio. Lock was later frisked, but the gunman conducting the search did not find the constable's weapon. He remained in possession of the revolver, and refused to remove his coat—which he told the gunmen was to "preserve his image" as a police officer—in order to keep it concealed. The officer also refused offers of food throughout the siege for fear that the weapon would be seen if he had to use the toilet and a gunman decided to escort him.

Although the majority of the people in the embassy were captured, three managed to escape—two by climbing out of a ground-floor window and the third by climbing across a first-floor parapet to the Ethiopian Embassy next door. A fourth person, Gholam-Ali Afrouz—the chargé d'affaires and thus the most senior Iranian official present—briefly escaped by jumping out of a first-floor window, but was injured in the process and quickly captured. Afrouz and the 25 other hostages were all taken to a room on the second floor. The majority of the hostages were embassy staff—predominantly Iranian nationals, but several British employees were also captured. The other hostages were all visitors, with the exception of Lock, the British police officer tasked with guarding the embassy. Afrouz had been appointed to the position less than a year before, his predecessor having been dismissed after the revolution. Abbas Fallahi, who had been a butler before the revolution, was appointed the doorman by Afrouz. One of the British members of staff was Ron Morris, from Battersea
Battersea
Battersea is an area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It is an inner-city district of South London, situated on the south side of the River Thames, 2.9 miles south-west of Charing Cross. Battersea spans from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east...

, who had worked for the embassy in various positions since 1947.

During the course of the siege, police and journalists established the identities of several other hostages. Mustapha Karkouti
Mustapha Karkouti
Mustapha Karkouti is a Syrian born freelance journalist and media consultant, residing in London since the early 1970s.-Personal and career background:...

 was a journalist covering the crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran and was at the embassy for an interview with Abdul Fazi Ezzati, the cultural attaché. Muhammad Hashir Faruqi was another journalist, at the embassy to interview Afrouz for an article on the Iranian Revolution. Sim Haris and Chris Cramer, both employees of the BBC, were at the embassy attempting to obtain visas to visit Iran—hoping to cover the aftermath of the 1979 revolution—after several unsuccessful attempts. They found themselves sitting next to Moutaba Mehrnavard, who was there to consult Ahmad Dadgar, the embassy's medical adviser, and Ali Aghar Tabatabal, who was collecting a map for use in a presentation he had been asked to give at the end of a course he had been attending.
{{anchor|List of hostages}}
Hostage Occupation Fate


{{Campaignbox Khuzestan Arab insurgency}}
The Iranian Embassy siege took place from 30 April to 5 May 1980, after a group of six armed men stormed the Iranian embassy in South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

, London. The gunmen took 26 people hostage—mostly embassy staff, but several visitors and a police officer, who had been guarding the embassy, were also held. The hostage-takers, members of a group campaigning for the autonomy of Iran's Khūzestān Province
Khuzestan Province
Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz and covers an area of 63,238 km²...

, demanded the release of Arab prisoners from jails in Khūzestān and their own safe passage out of the United Kingdom. The British government quickly resolved that safe passage would not be granted, and a siege ensued. Over the following days, police negotiators secured the release of five hostages in exchange for minor concessions, such as the broadcasting of the hostage-takers' demands on British television.

By the sixth day of the siege the gunmen had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress in meeting their demands. That evening, they killed one of the hostages and threw his body out of the embassy. As a result, the British government ordered the Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (SAS), a special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 regiment of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, to conduct an assault to rescue the remaining hostages. Shortly afterwards, soldiers abseil
Abseiling
Abseiling , rappelling in American English, is the controlled descent down a rock face using a rope; climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection.- Slang terms :...

ed from the roof of the building and forced entry through the windows. During the 17-minute raid, the SAS rescued all but one of the remaining hostages, and killed five of the six terrorists. The soldiers subsequently faced accusations that they unnecessarily killed two of the terrorists, but an inquest into the deaths eventually cleared the SAS of any wrongdoing. The remaining terrorist was prosecuted and served 27 years in British prisons.

The hostage-takers and their cause were largely forgotten after the Iran–Iraq War broke out later in 1980, but the operation brought the SAS to the public eye for the first time and bolstered the reputation of Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

. The SAS was quickly overwhelmed by the number of applications it received from people inspired by the operation and, at the same time, experienced greater demand for its expertise from foreign governments. It was not until 1993 that 16 Princes Gate, having suffered major damage from a fire that broke out during the assault, was re-opened as the Iranian embassy.

Motives



The hostage-takers were members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA)—Iranian Arabs protesting for the restoration of regional autonomy to the Iranian province of Khūzestān
Khuzestan Province
Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz and covers an area of 63,238 km²...

, also known as Arabistan. The oil-rich area was the source of much of Iran's wealth, having been developed by multi-national companies during the reign of the Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

. It became part of Iran (then known as Persia) after an exchange of land between Persia and the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 in 1847. Khūzestān operated largely autonomously from then until 1925, when the Rezā Shāh
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...

 suppressed its people and ended its relative independence. The Khūzestāni people rebelled after 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...

, but the revolt was crushed by Shah 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 campaign for autonomy did not re-ignite until 1978, when Khūzestāni oil workers went on strike.

The strike cut off fuel supplies to Tehran, the country's capital, contributing to the 1979 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...

 in which the Shah was overthrown and Iran became an Islamic republic under an 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...

. The Khūzestānis had hoped that their regional autonomy would be restored in the wake of the revolution, but Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

 refused, sparking a violent uprising in the province. Several thousand protesters gathered in the town of Khorramshahr
Khorramshahr
Khorramshahr is a city in and the capital of Khorramshahr County, Khuzestan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 123,866, in 26,385 families.Khorramshahr is a port city located approximately north of Abadan...

 on 29 May 1979; rioting broke out and Iranian Revolutionary Guards opened fire, allegedly killing more than 200 people. According to Oan Ali Mohammed,{{#tag:ref|Also spelt "Awn", codenamed "Salim" by the police.|group="note"}} the events at Khorramshahr were the spark that led to his desire to attack the Iranian Embassy in London—a plan inspired by the Iran hostage crisis
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

 in which supporters of the revolution held the staff of the American embassy in Tehran hostage.

Arrival in London


Using Iraqi passports, Oan and three other members of the DRFLA arrived in London on 31 March 1980 and rented a flat in Earls Court
Earls Court
Earls Court is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London, England. It is an inner-city district centred on Earl's Court Road and surrounding streets, located 3.1 miles west south-west of Charing Cross. It borders the sub-districts of South Kensington to the East, West...

. They claimed they had met by chance on the flight. The men typically returned to the flat drunk, late at night, and sometimes accompanied by prostitutes. Within a week, the housekeeper asked them to leave. They soon found another flat, where they told their new landlord they were moving because they had been joined by other men and required larger accommodation. Over the following days, the group swelled, with up to a dozen men in the flat on one occasion.

Oan was 27 and from Khūzestān; he had studied at 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...

, where he became politically active. He had been imprisoned by 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...

, the Shah's secret police
Secret police
Secret police are a police agency which operates in secrecy and beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime....

, and bore scars which he said were from torture in SAVAK custody. The other members of his group were Shakir Abdullah Radhil, known as "Faisal", Oan's second-in-command who also claimed to have been tortured by SAVAK; Shakir Sultan Said, or "Hassan"; Themir Moammed Hussein, or Abbas; Fowzi Badavi Nejad, or "Ali"; and Makki Hanoun Ali, the youngest of the group, who went by the name of "Makki".

On 30 April the men informed their landlord that they were going to Bristol
Bristol
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...

 for a week and then returning to Iraq, stated that they would no longer require the flat, and arranged for their belongings to be sent to Iraq. They left the building at 09:30 (BST
British Summer Time
Western European Summer Time is a summer daylight saving time scheme, 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. It is used in the following places:* the Canary Islands* Portugal * Ireland...

) on 30 April. Their initial destination is unknown, but en route to the Iranian Embassy they collected firearms (including pistols and submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

s), ammunition and hand grenades. The weapons, predominantly Soviet-made, are believed to have been smuggled into the United Kingdom in a diplomatic bag
Diplomatic bag
A diplomatic bag, also known as a diplomatic pouch is a kind of receptacle used by diplomatic missions. The physical concept of a "diplomatic bag" is flexible and therefore can take many forms e.g. an envelope, parcel, large suitcase or shipping container, etc...

 belonging to Iraq. Shortly before 11:30, and almost two hours after vacating the nearby flat in Lexham Gardens in South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

, the six men arrived outside the embassy.

Special Air Service


The Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (SAS) is a regiment of the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and part of the United Kingdom's special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

. The regiment was formed by Colonel David Stirling
David Stirling
Colonel Sir Archibald David Stirling, DSO, DFC, OBE was a Scottish laird, mountaineer, World War II British Army officer, and the founder of the Special Air Service.-Life before the war:...

 in Africa in 1941, at the height of the Second World War. Its original role was to penetrate enemy lines and strike at airfields and supply lines deep in enemy territory, first in North Africa and later around the Mediterranean and in occupied Europe. Stirling established the principle of using small teams, usually of just four men, to carry out raids—having realised that a four-man team could sometimes prove much more effective than a unit of hundreds of soldiers.

Western governments were prompted to form specialist anti-terrorist units following the "Munich massacre
Munich massacre
The Munich massacre is an informal name for events that occurred during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Bavaria in southern West Germany, when members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and eventually killed by the Palestinian group Black September. Members of Black September...

". During the 1972 Olympic Games, a firefight between a group of hostage-takers and West German police left a police officer and all the hostages dead. The British government, worried that the country was unprepared for a similar crisis in the United Kingdom, ordered the formation of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare (CRW) Wing of the SAS, which became the UK's primary anti-terrorist and anti-hijacking unit. The SAS had taken part in counter-insurgency operations abroad since 1945, and had trained the bodyguards of influential people whose deaths would be contrary to British interests. Thus, it was believed to be better prepared for the role than any unit in the police or elsewhere in the armed forces. The CRW Wing's first operational experience was the storming of Lufthansa Flight 181
Lufthansa Flight 181
Lufthansa Flight 181 was a Lufthansa Boeing 737-230 Adv aircraft named Landshut that was hijacked on October 13, 1977 by four members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine...

 in 1977, when a small detachment of soldiers were sent to assist GSG 9
GSG 9
The GSG 9 der Bundespolizei , is the elite counter-terrorism and special operations unit of the German Federal Police.-History and name:...

—the elite West German police unit set up after the events of 1972.

Day one: 30 April



At approximately 11:30 on Wednesday, 30 April the six heavily armed members of DRFLA stormed the Iranian Embassy building on Princes Gate, South Kensington
South Kensington
South Kensington is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in London. It is a built-up area located 2.4 miles west south-west of Charing Cross....

. The gunmen quickly overpowered Police Constable Trevor Lock of the Metropolitan Police
Metropolitan police
Metropolitan Police is a generic title for the municipal police force for a major metropolitan area, and it may be part of the official title of the force...

's Diplomatic Protection Group
Diplomatic Protection Group
The Diplomatic Protection Group is a Specialist Operations branch of London's Metropolitan Police Service. The unit's main purpose is to provide specialist protection for diplomatic residencies in London, such as embassies, high commissions and consular sections...

 (DPG). Lock was carrying a concealed Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson is the largest manufacturer of handguns in the United States. The corporate headquarters is in Springfield, Massachusetts. Founded in 1852, Smith & Wesson's pistols and revolvers have become standard issue to police and armed forces throughout the world...

 .38-calibre revolver, but was unable to draw it before he was overpowered, although he did manage to press the "panic button" on his radio. Lock was later frisked, but the gunman conducting the search did not find the constable's weapon. He remained in possession of the revolver, and refused to remove his coat—which he told the gunmen was to "preserve his image" as a police officer—in order to keep it concealed. The officer also refused offers of food throughout the siege for fear that the weapon would be seen if he had to use the toilet and a gunman decided to escort him.

Although the majority of the people in the embassy were captured, three managed to escape—two by climbing out of a ground-floor window and the third by climbing across a first-floor parapet to the Ethiopian Embassy next door. A fourth person, Gholam-Ali Afrouz—the chargé d'affaires and thus the most senior Iranian official present—briefly escaped by jumping out of a first-floor window, but was injured in the process and quickly captured. Afrouz and the 25 other hostages were all taken to a room on the second floor. The majority of the hostages were embassy staff—predominantly Iranian nationals, but several British employees were also captured. The other hostages were all visitors, with the exception of Lock, the British police officer tasked with guarding the embassy. Afrouz had been appointed to the position less than a year before, his predecessor having been dismissed after the revolution. Abbas Fallahi, who had been a butler before the revolution, was appointed the doorman by Afrouz. One of the British members of staff was Ron Morris, from Battersea
Battersea
Battersea is an area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It is an inner-city district of South London, situated on the south side of the River Thames, 2.9 miles south-west of Charing Cross. Battersea spans from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east...

, who had worked for the embassy in various positions since 1947.

During the course of the siege, police and journalists established the identities of several other hostages. Mustapha Karkouti
Mustapha Karkouti
Mustapha Karkouti is a Syrian born freelance journalist and media consultant, residing in London since the early 1970s.-Personal and career background:...

 was a journalist covering the crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran and was at the embassy for an interview with Abdul Fazi Ezzati, the cultural attaché. Muhammad Hashir Faruqi was another journalist, at the embassy to interview Afrouz for an article on the Iranian Revolution. Sim Haris and Chris Cramer, both employees of the BBC, were at the embassy attempting to obtain visas to visit Iran—hoping to cover the aftermath of the 1979 revolution—after several unsuccessful attempts. They found themselves sitting next to Moutaba Mehrnavard, who was there to consult Ahmad Dadgar, the embassy's medical adviser, and Ali Aghar Tabatabal, who was collecting a map for use in a presentation he had been asked to give at the end of a course he had been attending.
{{anchor|List of hostages}} } Gholam-Ali Afrouz
| Embassy Chargé d'affaires
| wounded during assault
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Bouroumand|}} Shirazed Bouroumand
| Embassy secretary
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Cramer|}} Chris Cramer
| BBC sound organiser
| released prior to assault
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Dadgar|}} Ahmad Dadgar
| Medical adviser
| wounded during assault
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Ezzati|}} Abdul Fazi Ezzati
| Iranian Cultural Attache
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Fallahi|}} Abbas Fallahi
| Embassy doorman
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Farugi|}} Muhammad Hashir Faruqi
| British-Pakistani editor of Impact International
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Ghanzafar|}} Ali Guil Ghanzafar
| Pakistani tourist
| released prior to assault
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Harris|}} Simeon Harris
| BBC sound recordist
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Hashemenian|}} Nooshin Hashemenian
| Embassy secretary
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Kaghachi|}} Roya Kaghachi
| Secretary to Dr. Afrouz
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Kanji|}} Hiyech Sanei Kanji
| Embassy secretary
| released prior to assault
|-
! scope="row" | {{sortname|Mustapha|Karkouti}}
| Syrian journalist
| released prior to assault
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Khabaz|}} Vahid Khabaz
| Iranian student
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Lavasani|}} Abbas Lavasani
| Chief Press Officer
| killed prior to assault
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Lock|}} Trevor Lock
| Diplomatic Protection Group
Diplomatic Protection Group
The Diplomatic Protection Group is a Specialist Operations branch of London's Metropolitan Police Service. The unit's main purpose is to provide specialist protection for diplomatic residencies in London, such as embassies, high commissions and consular sections...

 constable
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Mehrnavard|}} Moutaba Mehrnavard
| Carpet dealer
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Jishverdi-Moghaddam|}} Aboutaleb Jishverdi-Moghaddam
| Iranian attaché
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Moheb|}} Muhammad Moheb
| Embassy accountant
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Morris|}} Ronald Morris
| Embassy manager and chauffeur
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Mozafarian|}} Freida Mozafarian
| Press officer
| released prior to assault
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Naghizadeh|}} Issa Naghizadeh
| First Secretary
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Samadzadeh|}} Ali Akbar Samadzadeh
| Temporary employee at embassy
| killed during assault
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Tabatabal|}} Ali Aghar Tabatabal
| Banker
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Taghi|}} Kaujouri Muhammad Taghi
| Accountant
|
|-
! scope="row" |{{sort|Zomorrodian|}} Zahra Zomorrodian
| Embassy clerk
|
|}

Police arrived at the embassy almost immediately after the first reports of gunfire, and, within ten minutes, seven DPG officers were on the scene. The officers moved to surround the embassy, but hastily retreated when a gunman appeared at a window and threatened to open fire. Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Dellow
John Dellow
Sir John Albert Dellow CBE is a retired British police officer.Dellow was born in London and educated at William Ellis School, Highgate, and the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe. After leaving school, he worked for Shell and did his national service in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, working in...

 arrived nearly 30 minutes later and took command of the operation. Dellow established a temporary headquarters in his car before moving it to the Royal School of Needlework
Royal School of Needlework
The Royal School of Needlework is a hand embroidery school in the United Kingdom, founded in 1872.It has an archive of over 30,000 images covering every period of British history...

 further down Princes Gate and then to 24 Princes Gate, a nursery school. From his various command posts, Dellow coordinated the police response, including the deployment of D11
Specialist Firearms Command
Central Operations Specialist Firearms Command is a Central Operations branch within Greater London's Metropolitan Police Service. The Command is responsible for providing a firearms-response capability, assisting the rest of the service, which is normally unarmed...

, the Metropolitan Police's marksmen,{{#tag:ref|British police officers do not routinely carry firearms
Police use of firearms in the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the majority of police officers do not carry firearms, except in special circumstances. This originates from the formation of the Metropolitan Police Service in the 19th century, when police were not armed, partly to counter public fears and objections concerning armed...

.|group="note"}} and officers with specialist surveillance equipment. Police negotiators made contact with Oan via a field telephone passed through one of the embassy windows, and were assisted by a negotiator and a psychiatrist. At 15:15 Oan issued the DRFLA's first demand, the release of 91 Arabs held in prisons in Khūzestān, and threatened to blow up the embassy and the hostages if this was not done by noon on 1 May.

Large numbers of journalists were also on the scene quickly and were corralled into a holding area to the west of the front of the embassy. Shortly after the beginning of the crisis, the British government's emergency committee COBR,{{#tag:ref|The committee is named after the room in which it meets – the Cabinet Office Briefing Room – but is almost invariably abbreviated to "COBR" and pronounced "cobra".|group="note"}} was assembled. COBR is made up of ministers, civil servants and expert advisers—including representatives from the police and the armed forces. The meeting was chaired by William Whitelaw
William Whitelaw, 1st Viscount Whitelaw
William Stephen Ian Whitelaw, 1st Viscount Whitelaw, KT, CH, MC, PC, DL , often known as Willie Whitelaw, was a British Conservative Party politician who served in a wide number of Cabinet positions, most notably as Home Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister.-Early life:Whitelaw was born in Nairn, in...

, the Home Secretary
Home Secretary
The Secretary of State for the Home Department, commonly known as the Home Secretary, is the minister in charge of the Home Office of the United Kingdom, and one of the country's four Great Offices of State...

, as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher
Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990...

 was unavailable. The Iranian government accused the British and American governments of sponsoring the attack as revenge for the ongoing siege
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

 of the US Embassy in Tehran. Given the lack of co-operation from Iran, Thatcher—who was kept apprised of the situation by Whitelaw—determined that British law would be applied to the embassy, despite the Vienna Convention
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...

, under which the embassy is considered Iranian soil.

At 16:30, the gunmen released their first hostage, Frieda Mozaffarian. She had been unwell since the siege began, and Oan had asked for a doctor to be sent into the embassy to treat her, but the police refused. The other hostages deceived Oan into believing that Mozaffarian was pregnant, and Oan eventually decided to release Mozaffarian after her condition deteriorated.

Day two: 1 May


The COBR meetings continued through the night and into Thursday. Meanwhile, two teams were dispatched from the headquarters of the Special Air Service
Special Air Service
Special Air Service or SAS is a corps of the British Army constituted on 31 May 1950. They are part of the United Kingdom Special Forces and have served as a model for the special forces of many other countries all over the world...

 (SAS) near Hereford
Hereford
Hereford is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, southwest of Worcester, and northwest of Gloucester...

, and arrived at a holding area in Regent's Park Barracks. The teams—from B Squadron, complemented by specialists from other squadrons—were equipped with CS gas, stun grenades, and explosives and armed with Browning Hi-Power
Browning Hi-Power
The Browning Hi-Power is a single-action, 9 mm semi-automatic handgun. It is based on a design by American firearms inventor John Browning, and completed by Dieudonné Saive at Fabrique Nationale of Herstal, Belgium. Browning died in 1926, several years before the design was finalized...

 pistols and Heckler & Koch MP5
Heckler & Koch MP5
The Heckler & Koch MP5 is a 9mm submachine gun of German design, developed in the 1960s by a team of engineers from the German small arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch GmbH of Oberndorf am Neckar....

 submachine guns.{{#tag:ref|Most team members were issued with standard model MP5s, but there were not enough available at such short notice, so several members were issued with the shorter MP5K variant and two were armed with the MP5SD, with built-in suppressor
Suppressor
A suppressor, sound suppressor, sound moderator, or silencer, is a device attached to or part of the barrel of a firearm which reduces the amount of noise and flash generated by firing the weapon....

.|group="note"}} Lieutenant Colonel Michael Rose, commander of 22 SAS had travelled ahead of the detachment and introduced himself to Dellow, the commander of the police operation. At approximately 03:30 on 1 May, one of the SAS teams moved into the building next door to the embassy, normally occupied by the Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of General Practitioners
The Royal College of General Practitioners is the professional body for general practitioners in the United Kingdom. The RCGP represents and supports GPs on key issues including licensing, education, training, research and clinical standards. It is the largest of the medical royal colleges, with...

, where they were briefed on Rose's "immediate action" plan—to be implemented should the SAS be required to storm the building before a more sophisticated plan could be formed.


Early in the morning of 1 May, the gunmen ordered one of the hostages to telephone the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

's news desk. During the call, Oan took the receiver and spoke directly to the BBC journalist. He identified the group to which the gunmen belonged and stated that the non-Iranian hostages would not be harmed, but refused to allow the journalist to speak to any other hostages. At some point during the day, the police disabled the embassy's telephone lines, leaving the hostage-takers just the field telephone for outside communication. As the hostages woke up, Chris Cramer, a sound organiser for the BBC, became seriously ill and his colleague, Sim Harris, was taken to the field telephone to negotiate for a doctor. The police negotiator refused the request, instead telling Harris to persuade Oan to release Cramer. The ensuing negotiations between Harris, Oan, and the police took up most of the morning, and Cramer was eventually released at 11:15. He was rushed to hospital in an ambulance, accompanied by police officers sent to gather information from him.

As the deadline of noon approached, set the previous day for the release of the Arab prisoners, the police became convinced that the gunmen did not have the capability to carry out their threat of blowing up the embassy, and persuaded Oan to agree to a new deadline of 14:00. The police allowed the deadline to pass, to no immediate response from the gunmen. During the afternoon, Oan altered his demands, requesting that the British media broadcast a statement of the group's grievances and for ambassadors of three Arab countries to negotiate the group's safe passage out of the UK once the statement had been broadcast. At approximately 20:00, Oan became agitated by noises coming from the Ethiopian Embassy next door. The noise came from technicians who were drilling holes in the wall to implant listening devices, but PC Trevor Lock, when asked to identify the sound, attributed it to mice. COBR decided to create ambient noise to cover the sound created by the technicians and instructed British Gas
British Gas plc
British Gas plc was formerly the monopoly gas supplier and is a private sector in the United Kingdom.- History :In the early 1900s the gas market in the United Kingdom was mainly run by county councils and small private firms...

 to commence drilling in an adjacent road, supposedly to repair a gas main. The drilling was aborted after it agitated the gunmen, and instead British Airports Authority, owner of London Heathrow Airport
London Heathrow Airport
London Heathrow Airport or Heathrow , in the London Borough of Hillingdon, is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the third busiest airport in the world in terms of total passenger traffic, handling more international passengers than any other airport around the globe...

, was told to instruct approaching aircraft to fly over the embassy at low altitude.

Day three: 2 May


At 09:30 on 2 May, Oan appeared at the first-floor window of the embassy to demand access to the telex
Telex
Telex may refer to:* Telex , , a communications network** Teleprinter, the device used on the above network* Telex , a Belgian pop group...

 system, which the police had disabled along with the telephone lines, and threatened to kill Abdul Fazi Ezzati, the cultural attaché. The police refused and Oan pushed Ezzati, whom he had been holding at gunpoint at the window, across the room, before demanding to speak to somebody from the BBC who knew Sim Harris. The police, relieved to have a demand to which they could easily agree, produced Tony Crabb, managing director of BBC Television News and Harris's boss. Oan shouted his demands—for safe passage out of the UK, to be negotiated by three ambassadors from Arab countries—to Crabb from the first-floor window, and instructed that they should be broadcast along with a statement of the hostage-takers' aims by the BBC. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

 informally approached the embassies of Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria and Qatar to ask if their ambassadors would be willing to talk to the hostage-takers. The Jordanian ambassador immediately refused and the other five said they would consult their governments. The BBC broadcast the statement that evening, but in a form unsatisfactory to Oan, who considered it to be truncated and incorrect.

Meanwhile, the police located the embassy caretaker and took him to their forward headquarters to brief the SAS and senior police officers. He informed them that the embassy's front door was reinforced by a steel security door, and that the windows on the ground floor and first floor were fitted with armoured glass—the result of recommendations made after the SAS had been asked to review security arrangements for the embassy several years earlier. Plans for entering the embassy by battering the front door and ground-floor windows were quickly scrapped and work began on other ideas.

Day four: 3 May


Oan, angered by the BBC's incorrect reporting of his demands the previous evening, contacted the police negotiators shortly after 06:00 and accused the authorities of deceiving him. He demanded to speak with an Arab ambassador, but the negotiator on duty claimed that talks were still being arranged by the Foreign Office. Recognising the delaying tactic, Oan told the negotiator that the British hostages would be the last to be released because of the British authorities' deceit. He added that a hostage would be killed unless Tony Crabb was brought back to the embassy. Crabb did not arrive at the embassy until 15:30, nearly ten hours after Oan demanded his presence, to the frustration of both Oan and Sim Harris. Oan then relayed another statement to Crabb via Mustapha Karkouti
Mustapha Karkouti
Mustapha Karkouti is a Syrian born freelance journalist and media consultant, residing in London since the early 1970s.-Personal and career background:...

, a journalist also being held hostage in the embassy. The police guaranteed that the statement would be broadcast on the BBC's next news bulletin, in exchange for the release of two hostages. The hostages decided amongst themselves that the two to be released would be Hiyech Kanji and Ali-Guil Ghanzafar; the latter was apparently released for no other reason than his loud snoring, which kept the other hostages awake at night.

Later in the evening, at approximately 23:00, an SAS team reconnoitred the roof of the embassy. They discovered a skylight, and succeeded in unlocking it for potential use as an access point, should they later be required to storm the building. They also attached ropes to the chimneys to allow soldiers to abseil down the building and gain access through the windows if necessary.

Day five: 4 May


During the day, the Foreign Office held further talks with diplomats from Arab countries in the hope of persuading them to go to the embassy and talk to the hostage-takers. However the talks, hosted by Douglas Hurd
Douglas Hurd
Douglas Richard Hurd, Baron Hurd of Westwell, CH, CBE, PC , is a British Conservative politician and novelist, who served in the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major between 1979 and his retirement in 1995....

, ended in stalemate. The diplomats insisted they must be able to offer safe passage out of the UK for the gunmen, believing this to be the only way to guarantee a peaceful outcome, but the British government was adamant that safe passage would not be considered under any circumstances. Karkhouti, through whom Oan had issued his revised demands the previous day, became increasingly ill throughout the day and by the evening was feverish, which led to suggestions that the police had spiked the food that had been sent into the embassy. John Dellow, the commander of the police operation, had apparently considered the idea and even consulted a doctor about its viability, but eventually dismissed it as "impracticable".

The SAS officers involved in the operation—including Brigadier Peter de la Billière
Peter de la Billière
General Sir Peter Edgar de la Cour de la Billière, KCB, KBE, DSO, MC & Bar is a former British Army officer who was Director SAS during the Iranian Embassy Siege and Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in the 1990 Gulf War...

, Director Special Forces; Lieutenant Colonel Mike Rose, Commander of 22 SAS; and Major Hector Gullan, commander of the team that would undertake any raid—spent the day refining their plans for an assault.

Day six: 5 May


Oan woke Lock at dawn, convinced that an intruder was in the embassy. Lock was sent to investigate, but no intruder was found. Later in the morning, Oan called Lock to examine a bulge in the wall separating the Iranian embassy from the Ethiopian embassy next door. The bulge had, in fact, been caused by the removal of bricks to allow an assault team to break through the wall and to implant listening devices, resulting in a weakening of the wall. Although Lock assured him that he did not believe the police were about to storm the building, Oan remained convinced that they were "up to something" and moved the male hostages from the room in which they had spent the last four days to another down the hall. Tensions rose throughout the morning and, at 13:00, Oan told the police that he would kill a hostage unless he was able to speak to an Arab ambassador within 45 minutes. At 13:40, Lock informed the negotiator that the gunmen had taken Abbas Lavasani—the embassy's chief press officer—downstairs and were preparing to execute him. Lavasani, a devout believer in 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...

, had repeatedly provoked his captors during the siege. According to Lock, Lavasani stated that "if they were going to kill a hostage, [Lavasani] wanted it to be him." At exactly 13:45, 45 minutes after Oan's demand to speak to an ambassador, three shots were heard from inside the embassy.

Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw, who had been chairing COBR during the siege, was rushed back to Whitehall from a function he had been attending in Slough
Slough
Slough is a borough and unitary authority within the ceremonial county of Royal Berkshire, England. The town straddles the A4 Bath Road and the Great Western Main Line, west of central London...

, roughly 20 miles away, arriving 19 minutes after the shots had been reported. He was briefed on the SAS plan by de la Billière, who told him to expect that up to 40 per cent of the hostages would be killed in an assault. After deliberations, Whitelaw instructed the SAS to prepare to assault the building at short notice, an order that was received by Mike Rose at 15:50. By 17:00, the SAS were in a position to assault the embassy at ten minutes' notice. The police negotiators recruited the imam from a local mosque at 18:20, fearing that a "crisis point" had been reached, and asked him to talk to the gunmen. Three further shots were fired during the course of the imam's conversation with Oan. Oan announced that a hostage had been killed, and the rest would die in 30 minutes unless his demands were met. A few minutes later, Lavasani's body was dumped out of the front door. Upon a preliminary examination, conducted at the scene, a forensic pathologist estimated that Lavasani had been dead for at least an hour—meaning he could not have been killed by the three most recent shots, and leading the police to believe that two hostages had been killed. In fact, only Lavasani had been shot.

After Lavasani's body had been recovered, Sir David McNee
David McNee
Sir David Blackstock McNee, QPM was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1977 to 1982 and Chief Constable of the City of Glasgow Police from 1971 to 1977.-Early life:...

, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, contacted COBR to request approval to hand control of the operation over to the British Army, under the provisions of Military Aid to the Civil Power. Whitelaw relayed the request to Thatcher, and the prime minister agreed immediately. Thus John Dellow, the ranking police officer at the embassy, signed over control of the operation to Lieutenant Colonel Mike Rose at 19:07, authorising Rose to order an assault at his discretion. Meanwhile, the police negotiators began stalling Oan. They offered concessions in order to distract him and prevent him killing further hostages, buying time for the SAS to make its final preparations for the now-inevitable assault.

SAS assault


The two SAS teams on-scene—Red Team and Blue Team—were ordered to begin their simultaneous assaults, under the codename Operation Nimrod, at 19:23. One group of four men from Red Team abseiled from the roof down the rear of the building, while another four-man team lowered a stun grenade
Stun grenade
A stun grenade, also known as a flash grenade or a flashbang, is a non-lethal weapon. The first devices like this were created in the 1960s at the order of the British Special Air Service as an incapacitant....

 through the skylight. The detonation of the stun grenade was supposed to coincide with the abseiling teams detonating explosives to gain entry to the building through the second-floor windows. However, their descent had not gone according to plan and the staff sergeant
Staff Sergeant
Staff sergeant is a rank of non-commissioned officer used in several countries.The origin of the name is that they were part of the staff of a British army regiment and paid at that level rather than as a member of a battalion or company.-Australia:...

 leading the abseilers became entangled in his rope. While trying to assist him, one of the other soldiers had accidentally smashed a window with his foot. The noise of the breaking window alerted Oan, who was on the first floor communicating with the police negotiators, and he went to investigate. The soldiers were unable to use explosives for fear of injuring their stranded staff sergeant, but managed to smash their way into the embassy.
After the first three soldiers entered, a fire started and travelled up the curtains and out of the second-floor window, severely burning the staff sergeant. A second wave of abseilers cut him free, and he fell to the balcony below before entering the embassy behind the rest of his team. Slightly behind Red Team, Blue Team detonated explosives on a first-floor window—forcing Sim Harris, who had just run into the room, to take cover. Much of the operation at the front of the embassy took place in full view of the assembled journalists and was broadcast on live television, thus Harris's escape across the parapet of a first-floor balcony was famously captured on video. As the soldiers emerged onto the first-floor landing, Lock tackled Oan to prevent him attacking the SAS men. Oan, still armed, was subsequently shot dead by one of the soldiers. Meanwhile, further teams entered the embassy through the back door and cleared the ground floor and cellar. The SAS then began evacuating hostages, manhandling them down the stairs towards the back door of the embassy. Two of the terrorists were hiding amongst the hostages—one of them produced a hand grenade when he was identified. An SAS soldier, who was unable to shoot for fear of hitting a hostage or another soldier, pushed the grenade-wielding terrorist to the bottom of the stairs, where two other soldiers shot him dead.

The raid lasted 17 minutes and involved 30–35 soldiers. The terrorists killed one hostage and seriously wounded two others during the raid while the SAS killed all but one of the terrorists. The rescued hostages and the remaining terrorist, who was still concealed amongst them, were taken into the embassy's back garden and restrained on the ground while they were identified. The last terrorist was identified by Sim Harris and led away by the SAS.

Aftermath



PC Trevor Lock was awarded the George Medal
George Medal
The George Medal is the second level civil decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI. At this time, during the height of The Blitz, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage...

, the United Kingdom's second-highest civil honour, for his conduct during the siege and for tackling Oan during the SAS raid—the only time during the siege that he drew his concealed side arm. Sergeant Tommy Palmer was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal
Queen's Gallantry Medal
The Queen's Gallantry Medal is the third level civil decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth.It was instituted on 20 June 1974 to replace the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry, the British Empire Medal for Gallantry, and the Colonial Police Medal for Gallantry...

 for his part in the assault, in which he shot dead a terrorist who was apparently about to throw a grenade amongst the hostages. After the operation concluded, the staff sergeant who was caught in his abseil rope was treated at St Stephen's Hospital in Fulham
Fulham
Fulham is an area of southwest London in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, SW6 located south west of Charing Cross. It lies on the left bank of the Thames, between Putney and Chelsea. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London...

. He suffered serious burns to his legs, but went on to make a full recovery.

The Iranian government welcomed the end of the siege, and declared that the two hostages killed were martyrs for the Iranian Revolution. They also thanked the British government for "the persevering action of your police force during the unjust hostage-taking event at the Embassy".

After the assault concluded, the police conducted an investigation into the siege and the deaths of the two hostages and five terrorists, including the actions of the SAS. The soldiers' weapons were taken away for examination and, the following day, the soldiers themselves were interviewed at length by the police at the regiment's base in Hereford. There was controversy over the deaths of two terrorists in the telex room, where the male hostages were held. Hostages later said in interviews that they had persuaded their captors to surrender and television footage appeared to show them throwing weapons out of the window and holding a white flag
White flag
White flags have had different meanings throughout history and depending on the locale.-Flag of temporary truce in order to parley :...

. The two SAS soldiers who killed the men both stated at the inquest into the terrorists' deaths that they believed the men had been reaching for weapons before they were shot. The inquest jury reached the verdict that the soldiers' actions were justifiable homicide
Justifiable homicide
The United States' concept of justifiable homicide in criminal law stands on the dividing line between an excuse, justification and an exculpation. It is different from other forms of homicide in that due to certain circumstances the homicide is justified as preventing greater harm to innocents...

 (later known as "lawful killing").

{{Anchor|Fowzi Nejad}}
Fowzi Nejad was the only gunman to survive the SAS assault. After being identified, he was dragged away by an SAS trooper, who allegedly intended to take him back into the building and shoot him. The soldier reportedly changed his mind when it was pointed out to him that the raid was being broadcast on live television. It later emerged that the footage from the back of the embassy was coming from a wireless camera placed in the window of a flat overlooking the embassy. The camera had been installed by ITN technicians, who had posed as guests of a local resident in order to get past the police cordon, which had been in place since the beginning of the siege. Nejad was arrested, and was eventually tried, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment
Life imprisonment
Life imprisonment is a sentence of imprisonment for a serious crime under which the convicted person is to remain in jail for the rest of his or her life...

 for his role in the siege. He became eligible for parole in 2005. As a foreign national, he would normally have been immediately deported to his home country. However, Article 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998
Human Rights Act 1998
The Human Rights Act 1998 is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom which received Royal Assent on 9 November 1998, and mostly came into force on 2 October 2000. Its aim is to "give further effect" in UK law to the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights...

, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 into British law, prohibits deportation in cases where the deportee would likely be tortured or executed in his home country. Nejad was eventually paroled in 2008 and granted leave to remain in the UK, but was not given political asylum. The Home Office
Home Office
The Home Office is the United Kingdom government department responsible for immigration control, security, and order. As such it is responsible for the police, UK Border Agency, and the Security Service . It is also in charge of government policy on security-related issues such as drugs,...

 released a statement, saying "We do not give refugee status to convicted terrorists. Our aim is to deport people as quickly as possible but the law requires us to first obtain assurances that the person being returned will not face certain death". After 27 years in prison, Nejad was deemed no longer to be a threat to society, but Trevor Lock wrote to the Home Office to oppose his release.

Long-term impact


The SAS raid, codenamed "Operation Nimrod", was broadcast live at peak time on a bank holiday
Bank Holiday
A bank holiday is a public holiday in the United Kingdom or a colloquialism for public holiday in Ireland. There is no automatic right to time off on these days, although the majority of the population is granted time off work or extra pay for working on these days, depending on their contract...

 Monday evening and was viewed by millions of people, mostly in the UK, making it a defining moment in British history. Both the BBC and ITV
ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

 interrupted their scheduled programming to show the end of the siege, which proved to be a major career break for several journalists. Kate Adie
Kate Adie
Kathryn "Kate" Adie , OBE , is a British journalist. Her most high-profile role was that of chief news correspondent for BBC News, during which time she became well known for reporting from war zones around the world...

, the BBC's duty reporter at the embassy when the SAS assault began, went on to report from war zones across the world and eventually to become chief news correspondent for BBC News, while David Goldsmith and his team, responsible for the hidden camera at the back of the embassy, were awarded a BAFTA
British Academy of Film and Television Arts
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts is a charity in the United Kingdom that hosts annual awards shows for excellence in film, television, television craft, video games and forms of animation.-Introduction:...

 for their coverage. The success of the operation, combined with the high profile it was given by the media, invoked a sense of national pride compared to Victory in Europe Day
Victory in Europe Day
Victory in Europe Day commemorates 8 May 1945 , the date when the World War II Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. The formal surrender of the occupying German forces in the Channel Islands was not...

—the end of the Second World War in Europe. The operation was declared "an almost unqualified success". Thatcher recalled that she was congratulated wherever she went over the following days, and received messages of support and congratulation from other world leaders. However, the incident strained already-tense relation between the UK and Iran following the Iranian Revolution. The Iranian government declared that the siege of the embassy was planned by the British and American governments, and that the hostages who had been killed were martyrs for the Revolution.

Operation Nimrod brought the SAS, a regiment that was largely unknown at the time owing to the covert nature of its operations, into the public eye. The regiment was not pleased with its new high profile, having enjoyed its previous obscurity. However, the operation vindicated the SAS, which had been threatened with disbandment and whose use of resources had previously been considered a waste. The regiment was quickly overwhelmed by new applicants. Membership of 22 SAS, the only regular regiment of the Regiment, is open exclusively to soldiers already serving in the British Army, but the regiment also has two regiments from the volunteer Territorial Army (TA)—21 SAS and 23 SAS. Both the TA regiments received hundreds more applications than in previous years, prompting de la Billière
Peter de la Billière
General Sir Peter Edgar de la Cour de la Billière, KCB, KBE, DSO, MC & Bar is a former British Army officer who was Director SAS during the Iranian Embassy Siege and Commander-in-Chief of the British forces in the 1990 Gulf War...

 to remark that the applicants seemed "convinced that a balaclava helmet and a Heckler & Koch sub-machine gun would be handed to them over the counter, so that they could go off and conduct embassy-style sieges of their own". All three units were forced to introduce additional fitness tests at the start of the application process. The SAS also experienced an increased demand for their expertise in training the forces of friendly countries and those whose collapse was considered not to be in Britain's interest.

The British government's response to the crisis, and the successful use of force to end it, strengthened the Conservative
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party, formally the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom that adheres to the philosophies of conservatism and British unionism. It is the largest political party in the UK, and is currently the largest single party in the House...

 government of the day and boosted Thatcher's personal credibility.

The embassy building was severely damaged by fire. It was more than a decade before the British and Iranian governments came to an agreement whereby the United Kingdom would repair the damage to the embassy in London and Iran would pay for repairs to the British embassy in Tehran, which had been damaged during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Iranian diplomats began working from 16 Princes Gate again in December 1993.

The DRFLA was undermined by its links with the Iraqi government after it emerged that Iraq had sponsored the training and equipping of the hostage-takers. The Iran–Iraq War started five months after the end of the siege and continued for eight years. The campaign for autonomy of Khūzestān was largely forgotten in the wake of the hostilities, as was the DRFLA.

See also

  • List of hostage crises
  • Iran – United Kingdom relations
  • History of the Special Air Service
  • Who Dares Wins (film)
    Who Dares Wins (film)
    Who Dares Wins is a 1982 British film starring Lewis Collins, Judy Davis, Richard Widmark and Edward Woodward, directed by Ian Sharp. The title is the motto of the elite Special Air Service ....

Hostage Occupation Fate
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