Optimistic future

Interview with former American hostage in Tehran, John Limbert


Optimistic future
by Fariba Amini

John Limbert is a former American hostage. He is also one of several former hostages who have spoken out arguing that the US should engage in negotiations with Iran. John and Parvaneh met in Iran in their mid- twenties, got married and had their children in Iran. John Limbert did not just fall in love with an Iranian woman but with the country and its people, though naturally he felt differently after he was taken hostage.

John has written numerous articles and a book, “Shiraz in the Age of Hafez: The Glory of a Medieval Persian City” (University Washington Press), which is about the city where he lived, studied and taught. Oddly, without knowing who the author was, I had purchased this very book when I last visited Iran, coming across it in a bookstore underneath a once chic but now rundown high rise called A.S.P. He is also the author of “Iran: At War with History.” He now teaches at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, offering courses on Iran and the Middle East. He speaks fluent Persian, including a lot of the slang. He told me that he and his wife, Parvaneh, speak Persian at home. After an active life as a diplomat, which culminated in an ambassadorship in Mauritania, he is now retired. Parvaneh is retired as well. An accomplished artist, she uses her free time to paint.

Like many couples, John and Parvaneh have been through good and bad in life. They had a full life both as students and in the diplomatic corps, traveling the world and ending up in Iran. Going through the hostage ordeal when they feared that he might be killed at any moment, was obviously a terrible experience, though it brought them even closer. Remarkably, despite having endured 444 days in captivity at the US embassy in Tehran, unsure about his fate, he is all for dialogue with Iran and against any type of intervention by the US government.

I had the most heartwarming talk with John at his home near Washington, D.C. During our interview John used a lot of Persian phrases and I have quoted him directly, giving the interview a distinct flavor. John remains optimistic about the future of US-Iran relations despite a long history of animosity and mistrust. He recently wrote an article called “Negotiating with the Islamic Republic” which outlines his suggestions for dealing with Iran.

Here is the full text of the interview:

FA: How did you end up in Iran?

JL: First time I went to Iran in was 1962. At that time I was a university student. My father was assigned there with the old Asleh 4 (the planning organization) which was the ancestor of USAID. He and my mother lived in Tehran and I went to visit them in the summer time. I didn’t know much about the country but I spent a couple of month there, in Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, and was fascinated. I took courses at in Persian language at the old Iran-America society. The other coincidence at that time was that my mother, who was a social worker, was teaching at what was then The Tehran School of Social Work, which was run by Mrs. Setareh Farmanfarmaian(see photo). It later turned out on that one of her students was the sister of my future wife. At the time, I had no idea that I would be marrying her student’s sister!So I came back to the US and started taking courses at Harvard in Middle East history and culture. In those days, Sir Hamilton Gibb was the star there. I took Arabic language courses as well. I found it fascinating. When I finished my undergraduate work, I went into the Peace Corps. They usually ask you what your preference is; I said the Middle East, which in those days would have meant Iran, Cyprus, or Turkey.

I was part of the Peace Corps Iran in Group 4. We did our training in the summer of 1964 at the University of Michigan. Eden Nabi (who later became Professor Richard Frye’s wife) was in our group, but Iranians would not give her a visa. She was Assyrian, born in Iran. I went to Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan Iran, and started teaching English for two years. My wife’s father was a doctor in town. She had been teaching in Tehran but she was transferred back to her hometown. We ended up teaching in the same High School. English was required for the last 6 years; what was called Cycle one and Cycle two. She taught Physical Education. That is where we first met.

We were married in 1966, and in that same year we left Iran and came to the US. We lived in Cambridge. I was doing a Ph.D. in History of the Middle East, working with, among others, Richard Frye and Manouchehr Mohandessi. I also worked with the German Rumi scholar, Annemarie Schimmel. The scholar Wheeler Thackston was a then student and later taught Persian at Harvard. Although we lived in genteel poverty and at times Cambridge was cold and dark, life as a graduate student had its rewards. I remembered that I missed Iran terribly and wanted to go back. I finished my Ph.D. oral exams in the spring of 1968.

FA: Were your children were born in Iran and do they still speak Persian?

JL: My wife Parvaneh spoke Persian and both Kurdish and English and now we still speak mostly Persian together. The kids understand and speak both languages (Persian and English). Our daughter was born in 1969 in Tehran. She currently teaches anthropology at Queens College. Our son was also born in Shiraz in 1971.

FA: What drew you back to Iran and the Middle East?

JL: It’s a good question. It was the Middle East in general; not just the food, not just the scenery, but above all the people. Terry O’Donnell, who later became a friend, says: “Iranians are very much like us, only more so.” Friendships and bonds are much stronger; there is closeness and intimacy, good interaction between families, as exists in almost all Middle Eastern societies. Friendships are quiet powerful and intense. Once in a while I get a message from an old friend from 30 years ago. By contrast, the human dimension is very limited in our society; it is scattered, we are less connected to each other. In Iran, it is different. I think it was the Iranian people who drew me back, mainly.

FA: Why did you go to Shiraz?

JL: In 1968 we went to Iran, this time to Shiraz. I was doing research for my dissertation and was there at the invitation of the Asia Institute of Shiraz. Dr. Arthur Upham Pope was the head of the old Asia Institute under the umbrella of University of Shiraz. There was also Dr. Houshang Nahvandi and Dr Farhang Mehr, who were chancellors of the University. Life was not terribly expensive. Parvaneh taught in High school. She had studied Physical Education at Daneshsarayeh Ali, in Khiyaban (street) Roosevelt in Tehran. At the time there were not many women who had Bachelor degrees (they were few women who were “lisensieh” (with a B.A.).

After a few months, I started teaching at the University. It was the late 60’s. Between the two of us, we had a middle-class salary; we made about 4,000 Toman a month, so we had an okay life. We lived in Kucheh Dejban, Khiyabaneh Zand. At that time, to get a taxi you would pay 5 -10 rials. We lived comfortably and ended up staying there for 4 years. Life was too good but I was unable to finish Reconstruction of Shiraz in 14th century, a book on the times of Hafez.
I knew I had serious academic work ahead of me. Most of our friends were from the University circles such as Dr. Dehghan and Dr. Ghorban. Everyone knew him of course; in our neighborhood there were also many Bahai families. I had both Bahai and Muslim students. During Ramadan, there was lots of cooking. We also knew Dr. Tavallali and his wife among others.

I finished my Ph.D. in 1973. Dr. Esmail Ajami, who was a sociologist and Associate Dean of the Arts and Science Faculty, told me the University would pay my air fare back to Cambridge, and when I finished I could work as a permanent faculty member at Pahlavi University (formerly Shiraz U) and build up the history department. However, after I finished the Ph.D. I decided not to return to Shiraz. I told Shiraz University officials that I would repay the transportation cost. But they said it’s Ok. They were very decent people. When I finally finished with my Ph.D., I went to Professor Frye who was my advisor, and asked him about jobs prospects He laughed and said “There aren’t any and never will be.”

FA: What happened then?

JL: So I took the Foreign Service exam. I had a choice to join the Foreign Service or join the faculty at Shiraz as an assistant professor. In June 1973 I joined the Foreign Service. For 33 years, I was in the Foreign Service. I was assigned different posts in United Arab Emirates and other countries.

At that time I did not want to serve in Iran. It was the period of the Nixon- Kissinger doctrine. I did not like our policies there. Instead, I spent almost three years in the United Arab Emirates, 15 months in Tunisia studying Arabic, and 18 months in Saudi Arabia.

In early 1979, just before the downfall of the shah I volunteered to go to Tehran. It was in August 1979 when I joined the embassy in Tehran.

FA: What made you go there? Why did you make such a decision?

JL:Khariat!! (Stupidity), and it was also curiosity. Something had changed. We all thought, like you, that this was going to be big for Iran and for the US, and that it in a way it was a good thing, in a strange and friendly way.

The US and the Shah had been too close. What kept him in the throne was our support; he did what we asked him to do. Iran seemed to be an ally, but a little too much so. The country identified him with us and for this very reason people did not like this about the regime. There was discontent, in general people were not at ease about the system. Though, people were benefiting, doing well, but you could sense that something wasn’t right. It was sort of an open opposition. There were all kinds of fliers and leaflets distributed, there were demonstrations, and most were underground. There was corruption; especially involving the royal family and their entourage. The appointment of Richard Helms as American ambassador to Iran was a symbolic act, one which Iranians did not appreciate, since he had been the head of the CIA. Americans I talked to had good and bad feelings. It was also some sad periods. No one would dare say anything openly or spoke about US, Iran, the CIA. The Shah was more of a décor. He was a symbol of degradation. Few Americans understood this but when I talked to Iranians, they did understand. I saw occasional strikes at the universities. I remember that one of my Shiraz students from an Islamic group blew himself up while making a bomb.

FA: Tell us about Terence O’Donnell. When did you first meet him and how was your stay with him in Shiraz, at the Baugh-a- Salar Jang?

JL: Terry O’Donnell (see photo) came to talk to a group of Peace Corps volunteers training in Vermont. I was taken with him; it was in the summer of 1968. We met again in Shiraz later that year. We came to the Garden in September 1968. We took an old plane to Shiraz and a taxi to Ghasr Dasht. From the Falakeh (the traffic circle), at the end of the paved road, it was half a mile, and then you would turn right into the garden, his place. It was there that we met him and Mamdali.(see photo) We stayed in the guest quarters for two weeks until later when we got our own one bedroom apartment in the middle of town. Our landlord was a Yazdi cloth merchant, a Zoroastrian who had converted to the Bahai faith.

During the day, Terry would go out looking for things. Little by little, he was established there; we would sit in his garden, have a little vodka and talk and listen to him. He always had lots of guests, Americans; Iranians of all classes would come to stay there. But he also valued his privacy a lot. Sometimes, he would come to see us in town. He taught English and wrote stories. His stories on Iran were published in different Journals. His short stories were published in the Atlantic Magazine. He was a mostly self-educated man who had traveled the world and had gone to University of Chicago.

He wrote Seven Shades of Memory, a collection of short stories on old Iran. I use it in my classes, even now. He also wrote Garden of the Brave in War which has been translated into Persian. There, he showed the portrait of Iran that doesn’t exist anymore. His Persian was street language, not necessarily the language of an educated person. He used a lot of slang. He was non-judgmental, accepting people from all backgrounds. All kinds of artists would come to his garden and stay for dinner. He was a very special man. He was a wonderful listener and story teller. He was fascinating. In 1971, he finally settled in Portland, Oregon. He worked for the Oregon Historical Society. There is a park near his apartment that the Iranian Americans of Oregon dedicated to him before his death in 2001.

I think Terry understood Iran and Iranians well. He thought there were many misunderstandings between our two nations; he felt distressed; he realized Iran had absorbed too much in too little time. The outside conquests had had a negative impact and America’s cultural impact was too strong. Iranians could not deal with this.

FA: Who was the prince he refers to in his book? Did he ever talk to you about him; it seems he was fascinated by this man and they had a special connection, why?

JL: He was aBakhtiyari prince. His name was Yahya Khan. They had met in Isfahan and had bonded. He later mentions him in more detail in another article. He never talked to me directly about him but I think they had much in common.

FA: Tells us about the hostage crisis. What did you feel as a hostage yourself and what kind of repercussions do you think this has had on Iran- US relations?

JL: With the hostage crisis, came a different picture. I couldn’t accept the degree of nastiness that existed which came with the revolution. They were not the same people you knew and remembered. They were harsh now. There was a sense of resentment and grudge. It was class warfare between the educated elite and ordinary Iranians.

From Aug – Nov 1979 in Tehran was the best Foreign Service assignment I ever had, it was challenging. And the next 14 months was the worst time in my memory.

There were open debates, discussions all over the country. Suppression had leveled off. It was an exciting time, what we remember as the spring of freedom. It could have become behesht (heaven) instead of what it did become. Ambassador Sullivan had already left Iran in early 1979. The chargé d’affaires was Ambassador Bruce Laingen, who came in April- May of that year. There were problems; I had never seen this. But Iran under the Shah was different, the reality was something else. We weren’t sure what was on the horizon.

The actual day the students took over the embassy was the 1st day of work on November 4. On October 22nd, the Shah had been admitted to the US. It was a humanitarian gesture but it was also a stupid move. No Iranian in his right mind believed it was humanitarian, not given the history of US Iran relations. We sent a message to the Department of State; the message was “we have no protection here.” We told them, the Provisional government has no power to protect us. The message that was sent back was “too bad!” besuz o besaz (live with it); “We don’t care what you say; we’re going to do it anyway.”

Jimmy Carter was alone and his advisors told him to let the shah enter the US. Cyrus Vance had been against it, but he changed his opinion. It was Oct 20th. Carter found himself isolated against his own advisors. Strategically it was a too dangerous move for the US. As they say, Siyasat pedar o madar nadareh. (Politics is a dirty business). We were hung out to dry. We were told in so many words, have a nice day! I thought we were all going to die. Some of my colleagues thought the same. You are expandable. But nothing happened until the 4th of November.

At that time, Henry Precht, State Department’s director of Iranian affairs was in Tehran. He went to see Ayatollah Montazeri, and I went as escort/interpreter. Montazeri never said a word about the Shah. He invited us to come to the Friday Prayers at the University. He was the Imam Jom’eh. There were no unfriendly words towards the US in the Friday sermons, except once I heard Marg bar Carter (death to Carter) but the usual slogan around town was Marg bar Amrika (death to America). But no mention of the Shah was made. I was thinking that maybe, I was wrong, no big deal. On Nov. 4th I found out I was wrong. But it wasn’t about the Shah; it was all about destroying the Bazargan government.

FA: What do you think the motives were behind this action?

JL: There were three motives:

  • Do something against the US-show strength
  • Use it against the domestic enemies- nationalists, seculars and leftists
  • Meet young girls and have fun!

I don’t think there were any plans beyond that. They told themselves: What do we do now? Berim sefara- ra begirim ba`d chi? Yek karesh mikonim, ba`d chi misheh? (Let’s go take over the embassy. What about afterwards? Well we’ll do something.) It was a very Iranian thing!

It was all a political gesture, showing off that we are strong too and we mean business, we are mighty as they are.

The response hit a nerve. A huge crowd came to their support. The students were in their early twenties. Some were bearded; some were engineering students who seemed to be the ketab khun (bookish) type.

Most had no knowledge of the world. The majority pretended to be praying. They were from second rank provincial towns, Like Neishapur and Kazerun. They were mostly middle to lower middle class.

We were kept there for 14 months. They would tell us, don’t get mad you should appreciate us. I would say, don’t pretend you are doing us a favor, Menat saremun nagozarin! (Don’t think you are doing us a favor). What you are doing is so disgraceful. I am like your teacher; don’t talk to me this way. They interrogated us a couple of times, they couldn’t figure me out. I knew more about their country and history than they did. They never introduced themselves. But I know one of them was Abbas Abdi. (See photo) He would come with five others. I told them it was a media show. What is the program? When talking to us, there was a lot of anger and personal resentment.

I said, Kar e zeshti bud. (It was a wrong thing to do). What are they doing to their country? Now, the same people who took over the embassy talk of civil society and the rule of law. It reminds me of Mush o gorbeh. Abed o zahed o Mosalmanha. [From a book by Obayd-e Zakani, a 14h- century satirical poet, called Mush-o-Ghorbeh (Mouse and Cat) - a humorous political fable from the time of Hafez. It is the story of a false, hypocritical conversion. The catdecides to repent and starts praying, but he turns out to be worse than before, for he starts eating mice, not one but five at a time!] They were not interested in us, the Shah or the US. It was part of a larger power struggle in Iran against other forces- nationalists, intellectuals and secularists. They used the documents to find and reinforce their own position. One of them told me, “This is not just about you; we are going to find things about what the US has been doing in Iran.” I told them, that this is what most embassies do: Read, report and send communiqués to the authorities in their respective countries.

FA: Who were the others?

JL: One was Hussein Sheikohleslam. He was a gavkosh (Islamic butcher) in California. He reportedly had a halal meat place in Berkeley. He later became a member of parliament.

They told me, “Name all the Iranians you know.” I gave them 500 names. There was no physical harm to me but a few others told me they were beaten. They went to my apartment and took all my belongings, jewelry, a collection of musical tapes, books, etc. They said it would be kept safely and that they would be returned to me one day. They never returned anything. One day I saw that someone was wearing my coat. I told them, why do you steal? Your prayer and fast are batel (invalid)

I think at the end, the real losers were the Iranians. Bazargan’s government had a responsibility to protect us. But he was powerless himself and they couldn’t or didn’t do anything.

Khomeini originally told Yazdi to go ahead kick them [the students] out of the embassy. Khominei was not happy. But he had no choice. He was a Moj savar (lead from behind). Popular opinion was important to them; he and others re-directed the revolution. It was a chance to get rid of their political enemies. In my opinion, it was class warfare. The story is that sometime in August 1980 Khomeini told his advisors, Yek juri tamumesh kon (Finish it somehow). They used Ahmad Khomeini and [his brother-in-law] Sadegh Tabatabai . In September, the German ambassador got involved. They said, we are ready to talk with conditions. Then [Secretary of State] Ed Muskie went to Carter to get his OK. There had been false hopes before. Let us make sure. Warren Christopher and the Germans were involved. They confirmed to us that this time it was serious but we must have Khomeini’s signature on it.

Right before we left Iran they told us, “Some of you will be released but you must go on IRTV for an interview.” Massumeh (Ebtekar) see photo, who became a member of Khatami’s government, had changed her name. Her real name was Nilufar. She was one of the few women captors. They also called her Mary. She had lived and attended school in the US with her parents so she spoke English fluently. She said you have to talk, go on TV; otherwise you would not be let out. I said, “I will not go. I will not be part of this charade.” (In a recent interview with Press TV, she has said that they were not trained for this type of work, they were just intellectuals.)

I said what a shame. You had something good going. Enghelabe khubi dashtin. Ama kharabesh kardin (You had a good revolution but you destroyed it). They were playing games. This was while a new administration was taking office in the US.

It was the night before, 19th January.

We were given medical exams. I had lost 25 pounds. It was a reaction to stress. There were times when I thought they might kill us. They wanted to interview with us before releasing us. The Algerian delegation was involved. We knew that, now that diplomats were involved, it was serious. Jimmy carter had lost the November elections.

Would you be inclined to talk to any of your captors? As you know many have now become reformists, like Abdi*, like Seyyed Musavi Khoeeneha, and they sort of tobeh kardand? (They have repented.)

Voice of America has requested many interviews but I am not interested to talk to them in a public setting, maybe privately. We have had a class action law suit now for 7-8 years against the government of Iran, but it hasn’t gone anywhere. Our own government allied with the Islamic Republic. During the Clinton–Albright era, there was lots of talk about negotiation but with conditions from both sides.

One reason: Iranians may believe they can get a better deal from Republicans. It’s all about oil and business at the end.

FA: What were the conditions for your release?

JL: Return the frozen assets and unblock the escrow. Pledge not to interfere in affairs of Iran and return the Shah’s assets.

FA: But was any of that done? To my knowledge none of it materialized so why did they release you anyway?

JL: On September 9, 1980 the German Ambassador in Washington told Muskie that the Iranians – via Sadeq Tabataba’i had three conditions for our release.

- Unfreeze Iranian assets

- A pledge of non-intervention in Iran’s internal affairs

- An attempt to return assets of Shah.

Three days later, Khomeini announced these conditions at the end of a long speech. He also added the cancellation of American claims against Iran. Between September 15 and 17 Tabataba’i and Deputy Secretary of State Christopher met in Bonn to discuss these terms. Working out the details took four months. I think that all were met in some form. At least Iran could claim that they were.

FA: Would you want to go back to Iran someday? And would you want an apology?

You spent 444 days of your life in custody, never knowing if you would be released dead or alive? How do you feel about this?

JL: I want to go to Iran but I won’t raise it. No one needs to apologize to me and no one has; if they should apologize they should apologize to you, to Iranians. They didn’t solve anything. They want respect but if they get it they don’t know what to do with it.

There was personal resentment of Carter for his support of the Shah and Khomeini exploited the situation.

For negotiations you need compromise on both fronts. But they know only how to lash out at each other. It’s not easy or pleasant. It’s been going on for 30 years. So far, no real progress has been made.

FA: And now you say we should negotiate. You have written a paper and are working on a book? Why negotiations?

JL: It’s a personal issue for me. If we hadn’t negotiated in 1980 and 1981, who knows what would have happened, maybe I’d still be in Tehran. We must negotiate for the benefit of both nations. I have written a paper about this and a forthcoming book. I give all my reasoning for the sake of negotiations.

FA: Iranians in general believe in many of the conspiracy theories surrounding the events that shape their history. In a recent published book titled the Untold Aspects of the Iranian Revolution, 2008, Mr. Abbas Amirentezam, the Deputy Prime Minister under Mehdi Bazargan and Iran’s longest held political prisoner, says that the American government and the CIA were indirectly involved in and benefited from the Embassy take over? What is your opinion?

JL: As I have said in my article, “remember that conspiracy theories have great currency-and are sometimes true.” Although, I do not believe that the Iranian Revolution was the product of a Western alliance to get rid of the Shah, I believe to some extent, Iranians having been “subject tohistorical forces out of their control or comprehension, have some reasons to believe in such theories. …’ ‘these forces were never benevolent and were willing to use violence, terror, bribery and subversion-including recruiting Iranian agents –in pursing of their ends and in destroying Iranians’ attempts to control their own destiny”. However, in this case, I do not think our government was clever enough to do such a thing. And to what end anyway?



*Amirentezam’s spouse, Elaheh, (see photo) in a letter accuses Abbas Abdi of playing up the allegations against her husband which subsequently led to the charges that resulted in his incarceration. She writes: “Mr. Abdi’s view that Amirentezam has committed a crime for which he must face a sentence is very questionable….. The judiciary has never used the term political crime, and today, even 20 years later, there is no real definition as such. Mr. Abdi knows that the charges were one-sided and fabricated by the students, the followers of Imam’s line. These charges were made 18 years ago by him and their friends. At that time, in an unjust court of law, my husband was handed down a sentence without a jury, without a defense attorney. He could not defend himself against these accusations. In reality, one cannot condemn the actions of a youngster who was responsible for this plan and who himself was one of the perpetrators at the time, but today he must answer and be accountable for his past actions. …. ..I suggest to Mr. Abdi , to once and for all, in his time of solitude, be truthful to himself and reflect on his past actions, the ones he and his friends undertook in that small room at the Embassy in December 1979 by degrading , insulting and using anti-human and violent actions against my husband. In addition, Mr. Abdi and his colleagues and those with the same mindset, should be accountable. They should realize that while the basis of a new [democratic] society was being formed, by committing these illegal actions, they helped to contribute and grow the seeds of violence, hatred and friction in our society. How is it that now they all talk about the rule of law and are against violence? Mr. Abdi must be held accountable and he should realize that there are some wrongs that cannot be eradicated or forgotten. In an attempt to change their ways, they [the new reformists] should be aware that it takes a long time to reap what they sowed….

Elsewhere he says: if these allegations were incorrect and baseless, then the Americans would have reacted in some way!”

From a letter by Elaheh Mizani Amirentezam to the editor of Arya Newspaper, Esfand 1377 Feb/March 1998- No 168 – in Untold aspects of the Iranian Revolution: Conversation between Roozbeh Mirebrahimi and Abbas Amirentezam (Paris, Khavaran, 2008) pp. 337-338

* Note from the translator, F. Amini: Abbas Abdi believed that under the circumstances, a sentence of five years would have been justified for Abbas Amirentezam. Abbas Amirentezam has spent more than two decades of his life in and out of prison and has never been given a public trial or been vindicated.

* Terence O’Donnell -1924-2001- was a self educated American who traveled the world and ended up in Iran in 1960. He stayed there for 15 years, teaching English in Isfahan and Shiraz. He rented and settled in a rundown estate and made it into a prosperous farm and lived there alone only with his assistant Mamdali and his family. He wrote thousands of pages of journals which later turned into many books and articles among them Garden of the Brave in War and Seven Shades of Memory. In reviewing the latter, someone wrote the following: “As a person who also lived in Iran in the 1970's, I was particularly interested in the stories in this book. However, it would be of interest to anyone because the stories are evocative and the prose style is simple yet stunningly beautiful. This book is an absolute gem.”

O’Donnell later went back to his hometown of Portland and was active in the Oregon Historical Society. He died in March 2001. When he became ill, he was told that the Iranian American community in Portland wanted to honor him by dedicating a plaque in his name. He first hesitated but then he accepted the gesture and said that they can write the following on it: “He was a friend of the Persians.” The plaque now adorns a park near the small apartment where he lived. Terence O’Donnell was an American who loved Iran and the Iranian people until the very end.


Recently by Fariba AminiCommentsDate
Forgotten Captive
Nov 27, 2012
The Bride and the Dowry
Nov 27, 2012
Enemy Number One?
Sep 07, 2012
more from Fariba Amini

Den of Espionage!

by Watchdog (not verified) on

I am rather intrigued by Mr. Limbert's timing of 'volunteering to go to Tehran" to join the embassy there! This goes to prove a suspicion I had from the first day of the 'hostage crisis' in Tehran.

What needs to be asked of Mr. Limbert is the real reason of his mission to Tehran, rather than 'Khariat' as he pretends it to be while trying to pull wool over our eyes. The fact is that Mr Limbert and many others like him were on a mission from the republican party to create a 'situation' to weaken and discredit Jimmy Carter's Administration. The fact is that 'the mob' attempted to take over the embassy a few days earlier, but it was too dangerous for Khomeini-US republicans secret alliance, so on direct order from Khomeini they were dispersed by force. However, to protect their secret and provide these spies with protection they needed to achieve their objectives and complete their unfinished plots, the mullahs with the advise from their American Masters orchestrated the second takeover on the 4th of November this time by select group of students, the so called 'followers of Imam's path'. Several time khomeini refered to the embassy as 'the den of espionage', and he really meant it, except he didn't clarify who were they spying for?! As the events turned out, Jimmy lost the election, and the so-called spies were released just as the new republican president was entering the White House. What a coincidence! Only gullible Americans could believe such stupid scenario!
As the turn of the events revealed, during the entire period of Regan-Bush senior administration,nor during Bush-junior's 8 years, no real attempt was made to topple the Mullatariat regime despite the "jang-e Zargari" they waged on both sides. And Clinton sadly was too busy with his Cuban cigars... and missed golden opportunities.

So Mr. Limbert better come clean and be brave and tell us honestly if this was not your real mission in Tehran then what was?

What makes me feel really bitter is that these guys have no respect or feelings for the lives they destroyed to achieve their objectives. Mr. Limbert and his fellow- spies in embassy will face the international court of justice (I hope soon) to answer for their despicable acts of sending millions of respectable Iranians to exile, and wasting the lives of hundreds of thousands of our brave sons is battle fields of futile war with Iraq.

Shame on those who praise these despicable spies!

Kaveh Nouraee

Thank You

by Kaveh Nouraee on

It was a very enjoyable read.


Mr. Libmert is either ill-informed on US-Iran relations or lies

by Sohrab_Ferdows on

There is large number of declassified documents of US government that show the relation between US government and Iranian government during Shah was not the way that Mr. Limbert has claimed.

It is a pity to see some Iranians who also pretend to have nationalistic tendencies continue to beat the same drum of "Shah was this and Shah was that", this time, with the help of some Americans! Why should any Iranian believe anything which is said about any Iran related issue by an American former diplomat? Playing with nationalist sentiments of people seem to have a great appeal to a group who consider themselves the only righteous followers of Iranian nationalism which they have in their monopoly! Amazingly, these people have a strange kind of love to prove their nationalism and patriotism from the mouth of Americans who seem to be the only source that can confirm their claims about anything!


Today, it has become evident to the whole world that CIA was most active through educational institutions and many professors and university students during 1960's and 1970's became involved and were recruited by CIA in American universities. CIS or Confederation of Iranian Students was formed in United States with covert involvement of CIA. Later in 1970's, some of former elements of CIS founded "Islamic Students Association" or "anjomane eslamiye daneshjouyan". These elements were none but Mr. Ghotbzadeh, Dr. Yazdi who were both in connection with CIA.  Foundation of Islamic Students Association was in reaction to the action by SAVAK during early 1970's which they successfully infiltrated CIS and discovered the role of CIA. This matter caused a lot of problems in relations with Iranian government which was rectified after intervention by Alam and Ardeshir Zahedi.


Many of communication documents between American embasy in Tehran and State Department during Nixon era indicate that relations between Iran and United States has not been the way that we hear from Mr. Limbert. Despite the attempts by some American elements to protray late Shah as a real stooge of Americans, he was in fact an obstacle to many objectives of Americans and British in the region which needed to be removed by any means possible. It is obvious that American and British governments enjoyed having many of their friends in and out of government who had successfully used Iranian nationalism and religious masks to pave the way for implementation of colonialistic policies of superpowers in Iran and the region. These were the same people who were racing over some petty positions in so called "revolutionary government". We should all know by now that what hapened to them! It is a sad story but no one seem to learn anything! At least our nationalist heroes seem to be that way!


Fariba Amini

by ahvazi on

Thank you for another great article. I have met Mr. Limbert a couple of times and he is a great person. i hope one day he will be able to return to the land that he loves so much.



Dear Fariba Amini, How

by Anonymous on

Dear Fariba Amini,
How interesting!
Thank you...

I used to live in the areas you mentioned in Shiraz. Can't wait to go back again. I also know many names you mentioned. I am proud of coming from a city which leaves everyone beautiful memories. Its their people... :)


Oral history

by reader2 (not verified) on

Fariba Amini's interviews are good oral history material. Of course, as with all oral history accounts, much is left out and the subjectivity issue makes one doubt everything one reads. But as for cross reference, good stuff.

Definitely thanks to Ms. Amini for doing her best. One suggestion: next time you interview anyone involved with Asl-e 4 ask them if they have read the book by the "economic hitman."

Ali P.


by Ali P. on

Enjoyed reading the interview. Thank You.