On November 4th, 1979, militant students supporting Iran's Islamic Revolution stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took scores of hostages. Ultimately, 52 Americans were held for 444 days. Here are five facts you probably didn't know about the Iranian hostage crisis...
The U.S. Embassy Warned Washington The Embassy Would Be Attacked
In 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini installed an anti-Western Islamic theocracy, which replaced the pro-Western monarchy of the Shah of Iran. The Shah fled Iran and traveled to Egypt, Morocco, The Bahamas, and then Mexico. While in Mexico, doctors discovered he had an aggressive cancer, and recommended he go to the United States for treatment. This outraged Iran, who believed this was a CIA plot to return the Shah back in power. The U.S. Embassy in Iran warned Washington that their embassy would be attacked if the Shah was allowed to enter the United States. Two weeks later, when President Jimmy Carter let the Shah enter the United States, our Embassy in Iran was attacked. They demanded the extradition of the Shah in return for the hostages’ release.
Some Of The Hostages Underwent A Mock Execution
Some of the hostages said their treatment wasn’t bad, while others said they were subjected to torture, beatings, and mock executions. Three of the male hostages said they were awoken in the middle of the night, stripped, and taken to a basement where the guards made it seem they were about to be executed by firing squad. The guards fired their weapons at them, which were loaded with blanks.
The Hostages Were Released When President Reagan Was Sworn In Even though President Carter reached an agreement with Iran for the release of the hostages in December, the Iranians waited literally until the hour President Reagan was sworn in before allowing a plane with the hostages to take off. Iran had such a hatred of President Carter, they wanted to deny him this last moment of victory as President.
Carter Met With the Freed Hostages Afterward William Daugherty, who was one of the hostages said, "It was not a warm welcome" when Jimmy Carter flew to the U.S. military base in Germany to meet the hostages after their release. Many of them felt they were left unprotected in the embassy after President Carter made the decision to allow the Shah into the United States. Daugherty went on to say that Carter went around to hug all the hostages, but many of them remained still with their arms at their sides and did not return his hug.
The Old Tehran U.S. Embassy Is Now A Museum
The former Tehran U.S. Embassy is now a museum and Islamic cultural center. It is now considered a symbol of the revolution and nicknamed the “den of spies”. Old typewriters, communication equipment, and other relics are on display, preserved from the days when the embassy was a prison. Every year on the anniversary of the hostage taking, Iranians hold rallies with participants chanting “Death to America”, just as they did in 1979.