II. DRAFTING THE PLAN, OVERTHROW OF PREMIER MOSSADEQ OF IRAN (CIA Secret Report)

November 1952-August 1953
DRAFTING THE PLAN

 

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supposed redactions shown by [ ] are based on restored redactions
of other sections.
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II.  DRAFTING THE PLAN

     Near the end of April 1953 Dr. Donald N. Wilber, cov-

ert consultant to NEA, was selected by the Division to go

to Nicosia and, in close collaboration with SIS, draw up

a plan for the overthrow of Mossadeq.  The assumption by

Headquarters was that the planners would come up with a

project which they could conscientiously recommend.

     The discussions were begun at Nicosia on 13 May 1953

between Wilber and SIS Officer Norman Matthew Darbyshire.

Occasionally Mr. H. John Collins, Chief of SIS station at

Nicosia, was also present.  Mr. Darbyshire, who was in

charge of SIS's Iran branch, had been in Iran for several

years and was fluent in the language.  Discussions were

concluded on 30 May 1953, and the completed draft of a

recommended operational plan was cabled by Dr. Wilber to

Headquarters on 1 June.

     The opening meetins consisted of a review of all

the important personalities on the political scene in

Iran with a view toward determining whether General Zahedi,

the most prominent politician in opposition to Mossadeq,

was in fact the sole figure worthy of support and, if so,

what individuals and elements should be enlisted in his

support.  It soon became apparent that Dr. Wilber and


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Mr. Darbyshire held quite similar views of Iranian person-

alities and had made very similar estimates of the factors

involved in the Iranian political scene.  There was no

friction or marked difference of opinion during the dis-

cussions.  It alsop quickely became apparent that the SIS

was perfectly content to follow whatever lead was taken

by the Agency.  It seemed obvious to Wilber that the Brit-

ish were very pleased at having obtained the active coop-

eration of the Agency and were determined to do nothing

which might jeopardize US participation.  At the same time

there was a faint note of envy expressed over the fact that

the Agency was better equipped in the way of funds, person-

nel, and facilities than was SIS.

     Wilber reported the preliminary conversations concern-

ing a three-way channel, set up for this occasion, which

was designed to insure immediate relay between Washington,

Nicosia, and Tehran.  That is, a message originating at any

one of these places would be sent by the most expeditious

route to the other two.  This route was the Middle East

Communications Authority (MECA) link, the relay station

a few miles outside of Nicosia.*

_____________________

*Unfortunately, communications between Nicosia and
 Tehran were not as rapid as was hoped during this
 period in which more than 45 cables were exchanged.


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     Discussions at Nicosia moved on to a disclosure of

assets by both parties.  Those by SIS were centered upon

the contacts of the Rashidian brothers in such fields as

the armed forces, the Majlis (Iranian Parliament), reli-

gious leaders, the press, street gangs, politicians, and

other influential figures.  When this material was relayed

from Nicosia, the Tehran Station commented that it was

their belief that these assets had been far overstated

and oversold.  In reply it was pointed out that SIS was

as aware as we of the weaknesses of the Rashidians, but

that one of the strongest points in their favor was their

avowed willingness to risk their possessions and their

lives in an attempt against Mossadeq.  In the critical

days of August 1953 the Rashidians did display such a

willingness.  SIS disclosures were followed by those of

Dr. Wilber for CIA.  Prior to Wilber's departure a dis-

cussion was held at Headquarters to determine which of the

station assets should be disclosed to the SIS in return for

promised disclosures by the SIS of the assets which they

were prepared to put into an operational plan.  It was

agreed at Headquarters that the identities of the vitally

important principal agents of the Tehran Station, [Djalili]

[and Keyvani]

[ ] would not be disclosed.  Since the SIS had been


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informed during the November 1952 meetings referred to

above that CIA had two major principal agents in Iran, it

was necessary to offer two such in place of [Djalili and]

[Keyvani].  This was done, naming a station agent and a

sub-agent** of [ ] to these important posts.

To the best of our knowledge [Djalili and Keyvani] were not

uncovered by the Rashidian brothers or any other SIS agents

during the course of this operation.

     The continuing conversations at Nicosia were reflected

by outgoing cables requesting, principally from the Tehran

Station, information which would be helpful in drafting the

operational plan.

     Discussions now narrowed down to a series of basic

assumptions which were stressed both in the draft plan and

in its final form.  It was determined that the details of

the operational plan should be included within a framework

of such basic assumptions as these:  that Zahedi alone of

potential candidates had the vigor and courage to make him

worthy of support; that the Shah must be brought into the

operation; that the Shah would act only with great reluc-

tance but that he could be forced to do so; that if the

______________________

[ ]
[ ]
[ ]


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issue was clear-cut the armed forces would follow the

Shah rather than Mossadeq; that the operation must, if

possible, be made to appear legal or quasi-legal instead

of an outright coup; that public opinion must be fanned

to fever pitch against Mossadeq in the period just preceding

the execution of the overthrow operation; that the military

aspect would be successful only if the station were able

to review the plan with the Iranians chosen by Zahedi to

execute it; that immediate precautions must be taken by

the new government to meet a strong reaction by the Tudeh

Party.  Some of these assumptions were presented in cables

sent off before the draft plan was completed.  The reactions

from the Tehran Station and Headquarters did not always

express agreement with the ideas of the planners.  The

station expressed its feeling that the Shah would not act

decisively against Mossadeq, while Headquarters wondered

whether we should not support some other individual and

whether the Persians themselves might not take the lead in

action designed to overthrow Mossadeq.  It was, however,

agreed that the station should begin at once with its new

policy of attacking the government of Mossadeq through grey

propaganda.  The station relayed this line to its own agents

and passed it on to the Rashidian brothers of SIS.  The CIA

Art Group, a section of the PP Staff Advisory Panel, was


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asked to prepare a considerable number of anti-Mossadeq

cartoons.

     The meetings were interrupted for several days when

one of the Rashidian brothers managed to get permission to

leave Iran*--not at all an easy matter during the Mossadeq

period--and went to Geneva where he was met by SIS Officer

Norman Darbyshire.  He not only briefed Darbyshire on the

current situation but was able to give comprehensive answers

to a number of specific questions.  It should be noted that

the SIS station at Nicosia had been in tri-weekly wireless

contact with the Rashidian brothers at Tehran, employing

the best of the Britishtrained staybehind operators.  This

contact, in Persian, was naturally limited in time, and

even more limited after we passed word to Darbyshire on his

return from Geneva that the Iranian armed forces were now

in possession of directional finders supplied under MAAG.

     Mr. George A. Carroll (FI Deputy Tehran, Designate)

arrived at Nicosia on 29 May, in time to pass along reactions

____________________

*It is interesting to note that Rashidian obtained his
 exit visa to leave Iran and his reentry permit from
 no less a supporter of Mossadeq than Foreign Minister
 Hoseyn Fatemi.  This lends some evidence to long held
 CIA views that Fatemi was from time to time susceptible
 to British overtures and was trying to keep a hand in
 with the opposition and British in the event Mossadeq
 fell.  He was certainly aware of Rashidian's agent
 status with the British.


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and suggestions from Headquarters, prior to the completion of

the draft plan.  As stated, this draft was cabled to Head-

wuarters on 1 June 1953.  (See Appendix A for a typed

transcript of the cable.)

     While Nicosia proved to be a hand point of contact with

the British and a fairly good communications intersection

point, it di have certain disadvantages.  It was remote

from the headquarters of either agency, and, even worse, the

SIS station files were extremely inadequate so that any in-

formation on personalities, especially members of the Iranian

armed forces, had to be obtained by querying the Tehran

Station and Headquarters.

     Once the draft paln had been cabled, it was agreed with

SIS that their copy would be hand-carried to London where

the viewpoint of the SIS headquarters would be incorporated

prior to 15 June.  In the meantime, as had been agreed with

Headquarteers, the Agency would conduct a searching scrutiny

of the plan at Beirut, and then bring these results to Lon-

don for amalgamation with the draft as reworked by SIS at

London.  Carroll remained a few days after the completion of

the draft to begin work on the military aspect of the plan.

He also returned to Nicosia for a few additional days after

the close of the Beirut meetings for this purpose.  It must

be noted that Miss Helen E. Morgan, CIA representative at

Nicosia, gave strong support to the CIA personnel who worked

at Nicosia.


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