On This Day, Nov. 4, 1979 – Iranian ‘Students’ Sieze US Embassy

iran_hostages

1979 – An angry mob of some 300 to 500 Iranian “students” who called themselves “Imam’s Disciples,” laid siege to the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran, to capture and hold hostage 66 U.S. citizens and diplomats. Although women and African-Americans were released a short time later, 51 hostages remained imprisoned for 444 days with another individual released because of illness midway through the ordeal.

President Jimmy Carter immediately imposed economic sanctions and applied diplomatic pressure to expedite negotiations for the release of the hostages. First, Carter cancelled oil imports from Iran, then he expelled a number of Iranians from the U.S., followed by freezing about $8 billion of Iranian assets in the U.S.

Upon the death of the shah in July (which neutralized one demand) and the Iraqi invasion of Iran in September (necessitating weapons acquisition), Iran became more amenable to reopening negotiations for the hostages’ release.

In the late stages of the presidential race with Ronald Reagan, Carter, given those new parameters, might have been able to bargain with the Iranians, which might have clinched the election for him. The 11th-hour heroics were dubbed an “October Surprise” by the Reagan camp — something they did not want to see happen.

Allegations surfaced that William Casey, director of the Reagan campaign, and some CIA operatives, secretly met with Iranian officials in Europe to arrange for the hostages’ release, but not until after the election. If true, some observers aver, dealing with a hostile foreign government to achieve a domestic administration’s defeat would have been grounds for charges of treason.

The militants, mostly students, demanded that the U.S. send the former shah back to Iran to stand trial. Many hostages were later released, but 52 were held for the next 14 months.


1842 – Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd in Springfield, IL.

1847 – Scottish obstetrician James Young Simpson discovered the anesthetic qualities of chloroform.

1880 – James and John Ritty patented the first cash register.

1922 – In Egypt, Howard Carter discovered the entry of the lost tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen.

1924 – Nellie T. Ross of Wyoming was elected America’s first woman governor so she could serve out the remaining term of her late husband, William B. Ross.

1939At the 40th National Automobile Show the first air-conditioned car was put on display.

1942 – During World War II, Axis forces retreated from El Alamein in North Africa. It was a major victory for the British.

1952 – In the United States, the National Security Agency (NSA) was established.

1956 – Soviet forces enter Hungary in order to suppress the uprising that had begun on October 23, 1956.

1965 – Lee Ann Roberts Breedlove became the first woman to exceed 300 mph when she went 308.5 mph.

1970 – Former King Peter II of Yugoslavia died in Denver, CO. He was the first European king or queen to die and to be buried in the U.S.

1981 – The second scheduled flight of the space shuttle Columbia was canceled with only 31 seconds left in the countdown.

1984 – Nicaragua held its first free elections in 56 years.

1985 – Soviet defector Vitaly Yurchenko announced he was returning to the Soviet Union. He had charged that he had been kidnapped by the CIA.

1989 – About a million East Germans filled the streets of East Berlin in a pro-democracy rally.

1990 – Iraq issued a statement saying it was prepared to fight a “dangerous war” rather than give up Kuwait.

1991 – Ronald Reagan opened his presidential library in Simi Valley, CA. The dedication ceremony was attended by President Bush and former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter, Gerald R. Ford and Richard M. Nixon. It was the 1st gathering of 5 U.S. chief executives.

1995 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, 73 years old, was assassinated by right-wing Israeli Yigal Amir after attending a peace rally.

1999 – The United Nations imposed economic sanctions against the Taliban that controlled most of Afghanistan. The sanctions were imposed because the Taliban had refused to turn over Osama bin Laden, who had been charged with masterminding the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

2001 – Hurricane Michelle hit Cuba destroying crops and thousands of homes. The United States made the gesture of sending humanitarian aid. On December 16, 2001, Cuba received the first commercial food shipment from the U.S. in nearly 40 years.

 

Source: u-s-history.com; On-This-Day.Com