Today in Middle Eastern history: the Iran Hostage Crisis begins (1979)

It was on November 4, 1979, that a group of Iranian students from an organization called “Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line,” possibly with the pre-approval of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, stormed the American embassy in Tehran and took 66 US citizens hostage. Thirteen of them would be released within three weeks, and another was let go in July 1980 after he’d fallen quite ill. But 52 hostages remained in the custody of those student-militant-hostage takers for 444 days, only being freed in January 1981. It’s hard to make a lot of sweeping pronouncements about the importance of any particular event so soon after it happened, at least in a general world historical sense. But this is an event that shaped the course of the Iranian revolution, impacted a US presidential race, helped cause a major Middle Eastern war, and has influenced US-Iran relations ever since. It even launched Ted Koppel’s career.

Source: Today in Middle Eastern history: the Iran Hostage Crisis begins (1979)

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