Iran militants planned to hold US Embassy only days, student claims

The original plan for the occupation of the United States Embassy in Tehran was drawn up by a student group affiliated with the Islamic Republica Party -- and was intended to last only "three to five days."

Its objective was to topple the government of the prime minister of the day, Mehdi Bazargan.

This has been disclosed by one the "Students Following the Imam's Line," who apparently has split away from the group.

Writing anonymously in the latest issue of Mujahideen-e Khalq guerrilla organization, the militant said things got out of hand for the group when the Islamic leftist Mujahideen, which had no part in the original plan, organized massisve demonstrations in front of the embassy gate, raising strongly anti-American slogans.

The militants tried for a while to control the slogans, but after countrywide anti-American feelings were whipped up by the leftists, the miltants in the embassy adopted some of the same or similar slogans.

The irony was that when the "70 to 80 students" belonging to the Islamic Association of various universities had met about a week earlier to plan the occupation, they were told that this was being done to prevent the "Mujahideen and other leftist groups from gaining the initiative" in the wake of mounting unrest arising from the weakness of the Bazargan government.

The name, "Students Following the Imam's Line," was adopted to disguise the identity of the group, the militant said.

Among those who drew up the plans, the militant disclosed, was Ayatollah Muhammad Mousavi-Khoeyni, a member of the Islamic Republican Party (IRP) and now a deputy speaker of the Majlis (Parliament). Others were identified only as "Mr. A" and "M.R.," a top official in the Revolutionary Guard.

The 400 students from various universities who were to assault the embassy were given details of the plan only on Nov. 3, the day before the attack. Some mullahs were to have accompanied them during a brief march from a meeting point near the embassy gates. The mullahs, however, did not show up, and even Ayatollah Mousavi-Khoeyni put in an appearance only after the embassy had been occupied.

(Khoeyni later told reporters that he was informed about the occupation after the storming of the embassy and had not known about it in advance.)

The article, running to about 5,000 words and presumably the first of a series, is full of cynical revelations. One was that shortly after the occupation, Mustafa Chamran, defense minister in the Bazargan Cabinet, telephoned the Revolutionary Guard chief and "told him that the Mujahideen or Fedayeen [another guerrilla group] had attacked the American Embassy."

He asked the guards to get the attackers out immediately. "Of course, because they [the guards] already knew who these students were, they did nothing."

The militant takes an even more cynical tone when discussing a document found in the embassy after the occupation. It revealed that Ayatollah Muhammad Beheshti, the IRP chief, had had a meeting with US charge d'Affaires Bruce Laingen on or about Oct. 29, 1979, just about the time the occupation of the embassy was being planned.

Among the subjects discussed was Iranian public feeling regarding the hospitalization of the Shah in the United States, trade relations between the two countries, which Beheshti wished to see normalized, and a resumption of the sale of military spare parts to Iran.

It was the strangest of ironies, the militant wrote, that the excuse for the occupation of the embassy was that Mr. Bazargan had had a meeting with US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in Algiers to discuss precisely the same subjects.

Among other revelations made by the militant was that on the first night of the occupation a large number of documents was moved by the guards from the embassy in a truck (although "a mountain of documents") had been destroyed by the embassy staff before the militants got into the main building.

The next day, however, on orders of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini that the documents should remain in the embassy, they were brought back -- but a large number were missing.

The publication in Mujahid of the document on the meeting between Ayatollah Beheshti and Mr. Laingen evidently is meant to be the first arrow fired at the IRP by the Mujahideen.

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