VI. THE FIRST TRY, OVERTHROW OF PREMIER MOSSADEQ OF IRAN (CIA Secret Report)

November 1952-August 1953
VI.  THE FIRST TRY

 

Redactions in this section could not be restored, shown as [ ]; 
supposed redactions shown by [ ] are based on restored redactions
of other sections -- Appendix D which described the events and 
persons involved, with help from identities in Section VII.


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VI.  THE FIRST TRY


     The precise order of events of the night of 15 August

1953 has not yet been established in all detail.  The early

accounts of various participants differed widely enough to

make it impossible to follow the slender thread of truth

through the dark night.  However, the main outline of

this first try is clear, as are two basic facts connected

with it.  These facts are:  that the plan was betrayed by

the indiscretion of one of the Iranian Army officer partici-

pants--primarily because of the protracted delay--and that

it still might have succeeded in spite of this advance

warning had not most of the participants proved to be inept

or lacking in decision at the critical juncture.

     Not until the evening of 14 August were Tehran Station

personnel informed that action had been postponed from that

night until the next one.  Station principal agent Colonel

[Farzanegan] was not longer in touch with events and the

station was unable to guide General [Batmangelich], Zahedi's

Chief of Staff deisgnate--if, indeed, it was he who had

assumed the main responsibility.

     According to a statement by Mossadeq's Chief of Staff,

General Tahi Riahi, he was informed of all the details of

the "plot" at five in the afternoon of 15 August.  But

curiously enough--and according to his own account--he did


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nto elave his house in shimran, where National Frontists

Zirakzadeh and Haqshenas were staying, until 2000 hours and

then drove to staff headquarters in Tehran.  Riahi did,

however, order the commander of the 1st Armored Brigade to

have the brigade ready at 2300 hours.  At 2300 hours Riahi

sent his deputy, General Kiani, to the Bagh-i-Shah, the army

barracks on the western side of Tehran which included the

barracks of the Imperial Guard.  Kiani was arrested there by

Colonel [Namiri] who had arrived at the Bagh-i-Shah sometime

earlier with several officers who supported him.

     In the meantime a number of truckloads of pro-Shah

soldiers were making arrests.  About 2330 hours they came

to Riahi's house in Shimran and, finding him out, arrested

Zirakzadeh and Haqshenas.  Also about 2330 hours several

officers and a considerable body of soldiers rushed into

the home of Hoseyn Fatemi, Mossadeq's Foreign Minister,

and took him away before he had a chance to put on his 

shoes.  This meager haul of prisoners was driven to the

guard house of the Imperial Palace (Saadabad) at Shimran.

     Officers who were aware that Riahi had been alerted

took no action, but others who were not, carried out their

tasks.

     Sometime before 2330 hours a limited attack had been

made against the telepone system.  Wires leading to the

house of Fatemi and to the houses of others who were to

be arrested were cut; the wires vetween GHQ (staff


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headquarters) and teh Bagh-i-Shah were cut; and Colonel

[ ] with a small armed force, occupied the telephone

exchange in the Tehran bazaar.

     When Riahi did not hear from General Kiani, who had

gone to the Bagh-i-Shah, he (according to his own account)

phoned Colonel Momtaz of the 2nd Mountain Brigade and 

Colonel Shahrokh of the 1st Armored Brigade and told them

to take their forces to the Bagh-i-Shah.  At or before

this time he also alerted other officers, including Colonel

Parsa of the 1st Mountain Brigade; Colonel Ashrafi, the

Military Governor and Commanding Officer of the 3rd Mountain

Brigade; and Colonel Novzari of the 2nd Armored Brigade.

However, according to the accounts of Zahedi men engaged

in their operation, Momtaz and Shahrokh were arrested at

the Bagh-i-Shah and held there with Kiani for some time.

     Government sources differ in their accounts as to what

happened when Colonel [Namiri] tried to deliver to Mossadeq

the Shah's firman dismissing him.  According to General

Riahi, Colonel Momtaz was on his way to the Bagh-i-Shah

when he ran into Colonel [Namiri] in the street and there-

upon arrested him.  According to the official communique

of the Mossadeq government, [Namiri] showed up before Mossadeq's

house at 0100 hours on 16 August with four trucks full of

soldiers, two jeeps, and an armored car.  He claimed that


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he had a letter to deliver to Mossadeq, but was at once

arrested by the guards at the house of the Prime Minister.

Farzanegan [in clear] had still another version, claiming that [Namiri]

was arrested at 2350 hours at Mossadeq's house.  After his

arrest, [Namiri] is alleged to have said that a delay of two

minutes in the arrival at Mossadeq's house of Lt. Colonel

[Zand-Karimi] with two truckloads of soldiers caused the

plan to fail.

     It does seem fairly certain that Riahi had been able

before midnight to get detachments of soldiers to the

strategic points most likely to be attacked.  Just what

incident or what reaction on the part of Riahi and others

loyal to Mossadeq caused the pro-Zahedi officers to falter

in their duties is not clearly known.  It is known, however,

that Zahedi's Chief of Staff, General [Batmangelich], lsot

heart and went into hiding.  This undoubtedly did much to

lower morale at the crucial time, as did the rapidly circu-

lated word of [Namiri's] arrest.  Colonel [Farzanegan] went to

the Chief of Staff's office at 0100 hours on the 16th to

meet [Batmangelich] and it is known that General [Batmangelich]

did approach the GHQ with the intention of taking it over

but was frightened off when he saw tanks and troops in

readiness.  He then rushed to Zahedi and told him to flee,

but Zahedi only laughed at him.  Even the trucks with the


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prisoners had come down from Saadabad to the GHQ but, find-

ing it in hostile hands, retreated to Sasdabad.  Those in

charge of the trucks released the prisoners at dawn.

Zahedi waited in vain for an escort to come and conduct him

to the Officers' Club.  By about 0230 hours those Persians

who were still willing to carry out the operation were con-

vinced that the cause was lost, as they saw strengthened

detachments, more troops moving into the city, and vehicles

being stopped for questioning.  [Farzanegan] and General

[Batmangelich] themselves, toured the town about 0230 hours;

then presumably separated, since [Batmangelich] was soon

picked up, while [Farzanegan] found sanctuary in station

hands.  At the Embassy the station personnel had spent a

nerve-racking period of hours.  The army radio-equipped

jeep called for in the plan failed to arrive at the compound,

and there was no way of knowing what was happening in the

city.


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