Wed Nov 2, 2016 9:21AM
Iranian students climb over the walls of the US embassy in Tehran, November 4, 1979.
Iranian students climb over the walls of the US embassy in Tehran, November 4, 1979.
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On November 4, 1979, two weeks after Shah had been allowed to enter the United States, a group of students took over the US embassy in Iran.

Two weeks after the admission of Mohammad Reza Shah by the United States for what was announced as medical treatment, Iran became the scene of massive anti-US protests. The protesters berated the US for offering refuge to a dictator that it had supported for so many years. Soon after, a group of students decided to take over the US embassy in Tehran.

There were a couple of reasons that prompted those students to do what they did. Firstly, US interference in Iranian affairs was so widespread it even included determining local officials. Secondly, perhaps the 1953 coup de tat against Prime Minister Mosaddeq’s government dealt the heaviest blow to US credibility with the Iranian people.

While the US and some other countries condemned the move, most of the political groups in Iran supported it, particularly after Imam Khomeini threw his weight behind the students. Embassy staffers began destroying all the documents by feeding them to a shredder. Still, the students managed to painstakingly piece the shreds together and recover sensitive information.

In one document, an embassy staff member, a man named John Graves, suggested a plan to his Washington masters that included creating chaos in Iran and torpedoing the then-fledgling revolution.

What followed was completely unexpected. The Americans were left scratching their heads. More than 50 of their embassy staff members were being held hostage on the premises. A country that was once the anchor for their presence in the Middle East had now become one of the most serious enemies of American interventions around the world.

At last, after 444 days, the Iranian Parliament ordered the hostages of US embassy to be released.