By Jubin Katiraie
At the beginning of November 1979, a group of people took over the United States Embassy in the Iranian capital. It became a hostage situation that lasted 444 days in total.
Some of the key players in the hostage crisis have gone on to become very important members of the Iranian government.
The hostage-takers described themselves as part of the “Student Followers of the Imam’s Line”. The spokesperson for the group was Masoumeh Ebtekar. She strongly defended the takeover of the American embassy and demanded that she be tried. Ebtekar was the first woman to be appointed to the country’s cabinet since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
She was the head of the Environment Protection Organization of Iran and was a councilwoman of Tehran. Ebtekar is currently the Vice President of Iran for Women and Family Affairs.
Hossein Sheikholislam, the advisor to the Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, previously held the role of Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs, Deputy for International Affairs to Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and the Iranian ambassador to Syria. He also served as a Deputy Foreign Minister for Middle Eastern affairs and had two terms as a Member of Parliament. During the 1979 hostage crisis, Sheikholislam was a council member who reviewed US embassy documents.
Mohammad-Ali (Aziz) Jafari plotted to take over the embassy and went on to serve as commander of the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for more than a decade.
Reza Seifollahi, one of the main plotters of the embassy takeover, has been a senior IRGC commander as well as commander of the IRGC’s Intelligence Division. He was Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs and was the first commander of the State Security Forces (SSF). Most recently he was Political Deputy of the Secretariat of the Supreme National Security Council (SNSC).
Habibollah Bitaraf, another main plotter and member of the central council of the “Student followers of the line of the Imam” served as the country’s Energy Minister from 1997 to 2005. Before this, he was the Governor of Yazd Province and the Deputy Minister of Energy for Educational Affairs.
These are just a few of many plotters who went on to enjoy much success with the Iranian government.
Taking over the embassy in 1979 was just an indication of what was yet to come. Throughout the next four decades, the government would prove to the rest of the world that it is malign and belligerent.
This situation is reminiscent of the 1988 massacre in which more than 30,000 political prisoners of MEK members in Iran were killed by the state in one of the most horrific crimes against humanity in history. Instead of being held accountable for their brutal crimes, many of the perpetrators have gone on to occupy high-level posts.
The Iranian government history has changed very little in the past four decades. Foreign policy is based on terrorism and the spread of chaos.