U.S. Embassy, Tehran (04:01)
Barry Rosen recalls the Students Following the Line of the Imam entering the embassy and taking hostages on November 4, 1979. They demand the return of the Shah. (Credits)
Iran Hostage Crisis (04:36)
Gary Sick recalls learning about the hostage situation, receiving reports from inside the embassy, and relaying information to President Carter. The captors bind and beat Rosen. The incident is the first fully televised foreign policy crisis.
Tehran, Iran (07:07)
Rosen recalls arriving in Iran with the Peace Corps in 1967. Anti-Americanism is not palpable, but Rosen identifies aspects that bother Iranians, including the 1953 coup. Tehran celebrates the coronation of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.
Democracy and Nationalism (08:34)
Iran's most democratic period occurs from 1941-1953. Mohammad Mosaddegh nationalizes Iranian oil fields, leased by the British government, and an international crisis follows. President Truman sympathizes with the anti-colonial idea, but the U.S. ultimately views Middle Eastern countries as threats.
1953 Coup, Iran (06:54)
Planning occurs after Dwight Eisenhower becomes president. He assigns the CIA to overthrow Mosaddegh and give the Shah complete power. Kermit Roosevelt orchestrates the coup from the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Iranians believe the Shah is beholden to the U.S.
White Revolution (06:04)
The Shah institutes several reforms that appear attractive and useful; they go against Islamic law and the clerical class. Ayatollah Khomeini protests the revolution and demonstrations against the Shah occur throughout Iran. The Shah cracks down on dissenters and sends Khomeini to Iraq.
Persepolis Celebration (06:02)
In 1971, the Shah orchestrates a lavish celebration of the 2,500 anniversary of the Persian Empire. Many Iranian people disapprove; Khomeini labels it the "devil's festival." The Pentagon shows staff the "Flame of Persia."
U.S. Responsibility (06:35)
In 1972, President Nixon and the Shah acknowledge the positive relationship between Iran and the U.S. Nixon and Henry Kissinger agree to the Twin Pillar Policy to protect U.S. interests. The Shah becomes the largest purchaser of American weapons.
Iranian Society (07:14)
The Shah declares Iran will enter the "era of the Great Civilization" within 12 years. OPEC significantly increases oil prices and the U.S. experiences a fuel shortage. Experts discuss life in Tehran, Westernization, the Shah's extravagance, and emancipating women.
Police State (06:29)
The Shah's SAVAK is all-pervasive. Secret footage reveals the political prison of Evin; a former prisoner describes her torture. Hilary Brown recalls interviewing the Shah. He is the first ruler to control everything in Iran; the U.S. agrees not to interfere in Iran's internal politics.
D.C. Demonstrations (08:49)
Rosen meets his future wife at Kennedy Airport. He reflects on taking his family to Iran. The Shah visits Washington in November 1977. Iranian student protestors march the streets; the police deploy tear gas to control the crowd. The Shah and President Carter talk high policy.
Iranian Revolution (07:34)
President Carter visits Tehran, describing Iran as an island of stability. Published accusations against Khomeini cause outrage, leading to deadly demonstrations. Rosen arrives in Iran as many Americans are leaving. The Shah imposes martial law and violence continues. Rosen questions supporting the Shah.
Ayatollah Khomeini (06:39)
Millions march against the Shah and violence continues. Khomeini, living in exile, criticizes America. Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, Bani Sadr, and Ibrahim Yazdi, the secular leaders of the revolutionary movement, underestimate Khomeini. Mullahs distribute cassette tapes of Khomeini's sermons against the Shah.
Iranian Government (05:36)
The Shah has a large, well-equipped army. President Carter remains confident in the Shah’s abilities. Ambassador Sullivan considers the Shah's abdication and Zbigniew Brzezinski considers his survivability. The Shah is unwilling to take the severe action necessary to stop the Revolution; he leaves Iran.
New Iran Leadership? (05:53)
Tehran celebrates the Shah's departure and Khomeini's return to Iran. The Shah's army declares itself neutral and people plunder the barracks. The Revolution continues and gatherings are sometimes volatile; different factions have different ideas.
Revolution Continues (05:29)
The courts televise most executions. Vigilantes and guerilla forces move throughout Tehran and incidents around the U.S. embassy become tense. On February 14, 1979, extremists attack the embassy and take hostages; Khomeini’s men free them. Violence continues to escalate and anti-Americanism flourishes.
Deposed Monarch (07:41)
The U.S. rescinds its invitation, and the Shah travels to several countries. President Carter learns the Shah has cancer and allows him to enter the U.S for treatment. Iranians believe the Shah is plotting a counter-revolution with the U.S.; students breach the U.S. embassy and take hostages.
Credits: Taken Hostage: Episode 1 (01:07)
Credits: Taken Hostage: Episode 1
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