Leader of US Embassy Attack: Sorry About That

Ebrahim Asgharzadeh regrets attack in Iran in 1979
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 2, 2019 12:15 PM CDT
Leader of US Embassy Attack: Sorry About That
In this Nov. 5, 1979, file photo, Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, left, a representative of the Iranian students who stormed the US Embassy on Nov. 4, holds up a portrait of one of the blindfolded hostages, during a news conference in the embassy in Tehran.   (AP Photo/File)

His revolutionary fervor diminished by the years that have also turned his dark brown hair white, one of the Iranian student leaders of the 1979 US Embassy takeover says he now regrets the seizure of the diplomatic compound and the 444-day hostage crisis that followed. Speaking to the AP ahead of Monday's 40th anniversary of the attack, Ebrahim Asgharzadeh acknowledged that the repercussions of the crisis still reverberate as tensions remain high between the US and Iran over Tehran's collapsing nuclear deal with world powers. Asgharzadeh cautioned others against following in his footsteps, despite the takeover becoming enshrined in hard-line mythology.

He also disputed a revisionist history now being offered by supporters of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that they directed the attack, insisting all the blame rested with the Islamist students who let the crisis spin out of control. "Like Jesus Christ, I bear all the sins on my shoulders," Asgharzadeh said. At the time, what led to the 1979 takeover remained obscure to Americans who for months could only watch in horror as TV newscasts showed Iranian protests at the embassy. Popular anger against the US was rooted in the 1953 CIA-engineered coup that toppled Iran's elected prime minister and cemented the power of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

(Read more Iran stories.)

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