SOTG 295 - Islam has had 36 years to Police its Ranks

(Photo Source: UPI 1979)

The Professor takes us to school and we examine the recent history of “radical Islam”. For those of you who went to public school in the last 20 years, we will go back to the year 1979 and the national embarrassment that was Jimmy Carter and the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

For 36 years, of late, the Islamic World has been aware of the “radical” or “jihadist” element in its midst. Our question to the Muslim street is very simple, why should the world believe that moderate Muslims are at all concerned with the “radicals” and why should we believe that the moderates are not enabling their radical brothers and sisters?




On November 4, 1979, a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, taking more than 60 American hostages. The immediate cause of this action was President Jimmy Carter’s decision to allow Iran’s deposed Shah, a pro-Western autocrat who had been expelled from his country some months before, to come to the United States for cancer treatment. However, the hostage-taking was about more than the Shah’s medical care: it was a dramatic way for the student revolutionaries to declare a break with Iran’s past and an end to American interference in its affairs. It was also a way to raise the intra- and international profile of the revolution’s leader, the anti-American cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The students set their hostages free on January 21, 1981, 444 days after the crisis began and just hours after President Ronald Reagan delivered his inaugural address. Many historians believe that hostage crisis cost Jimmy Carter a second term as president.

The Iran hostage crisis had its origins in a series of events that took place nearly a half-century before it began. The source of tension between Iran and the U.S. stemmed from an increasingly intense conflict over oil. British and American corporations had controlled the bulk of Iran’s petroleum reserves almost since their discovery–a profitable arrangement that they had no desire to change. However, in 1951 Iran’s newly elected prime minister, a European-educated nationalist named Muhammad Mossadegh, announced a plan to nationalize the country’s oil industry. In response to these policies, the American C.I.A. and the British intelligence service devised a secret plan to overthrow Mossadegh and replace him with a leader who would be more receptive to Western interests.

Did You Know?
The television series Nightline began as a nightly news report on the hostage crisis (its original title was The Iran Crisis–America Held Hostage). ABC News president Roone Arledge hoped that it would draw viewers away from the NBC juggernaut The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Through this coup, code-named Operation TP-Ajax, Mossadegh was deposed and a new government was installed in August 1953. The new leader was a member of Iran’s royal family named Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi. The Shah’s government was secular, anti-communist and pro-Western. In exchange for tens of millions of dollars in foreign aid, he returned 80 percent of Iran’s oil reserves to the Americans and the British.

For the C.I.A. and oil interests, the 1953 coup was a success. In fact, it served as a model for other covert operations during the Cold War, such as the 1954 government takeover in Guatemala and the failed intervention in Cuba in 1961. However, many Iranians bitterly resented what they saw as American intervention in their affairs. The Shah turned out to be a brutal, arbitrary dictator whose secret police (known as the SAVAK) tortured and murdered thousands of people. Meanwhile, the Iranian government spent billions of dollars on American-made weapons while the Iranian economy suffered.

By the 1970s, many Iranians were fed up with the Shah’s government. In protest, they turned to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a radical cleric whose revolutionary Islamist movement seemed to promise a break from the past and a turn toward greater autonomy for the Iranian people. In July 1979, the revolutionaries forced the Shah to disband his government and flee to Egypt. The Ayatollah installed a militant Islamist government in its place.

The United States, fearful of stirring up hostilities in the Middle East, did not come to the defense of its old ally. (For one thing, President Carter, aware of the Shah’s terrible record in that department, was reluctant to defend him.) However, in October 1979 President Carter agreed to allow the exiled leader to enter the U.S. for treatment of an advanced malignant lymphoma. His decision was humanitarian, not political; nevertheless, as one American later noted, it was like throwing “a burning branch into a bucket of kerosene.” Anti-American sentiment in Iran exploded.

On November 4, just after the Shah arrived in New York, a group of pro-Ayatollah students smashed the gates and scaled the walls of the American embassy in Tehran. Once inside, they seized 66 hostages, mostly diplomats and embassy employees. After a short period of time, 13 of these hostages were released. (For the most part, these 13 were women, African-Americans and citizens of countries other than the U.S.–people who, Khomeini argued, were already subject to “the oppression of American society.”) Some time later, a 14th hostage developed health problems and was likewise sent home. By midsummer 1980, 52 hostages remained in the embassy compound.

Diplomatic maneuvers had no discernible effect on the Ayatollah’s anti-American stance; neither did economic sanctions such as the seizure of Iranian assets in the United States. Meanwhile, while the hostages were never seriously injured, they were subjected to a rich variety of demeaning and terrifying treatment. They were blindfolded and paraded in front of TV cameras and jeering crowds. They were not allowed to speak or read, and they were rarely permitted to change clothes. Throughout the crisis there was a frightening uncertainty about their fate: The hostages never knew whether they were going to be tortured, murdered or set free.

President Carter’s efforts to bring an end to the hostage crisis soon became one of his foremost priorities. In April 1980, frustrated with the slow pace of diplomacy (and over the objections of several of his advisers), Carter decided to launch a risky military rescue mission known as Operation Eagle Claw. The operation was supposed to send an elite rescue team into the embassy compound. However, a severe desert sandstorm on the day of the mission caused several helicopters to malfunction, including one that veered into a large transport plane during takeoff. Eight American servicemen were killed in the accident, and Operation Eagle Claw was aborted.

The constant media coverage of the hostage crisis in the U.S. served as a demoralizing backdrop for the 1980 presidential race. President Carter’s inability to resolve the problem made him look like a weak and ineffectual leader. At the same time, his intense focus on bringing the hostages home kept him away from the campaign trail.

The Republican candidate, former California governor Ronald Reagan, took advantage of Carter’s difficulties. Rumors even circulated that Reagan’s campaign staff negotiated with the Iranians to be sure that the hostages would not be released before the election, an event that would surely have given Carter a crucial boost. (Reagan himself always denied these allegations.) On Election Day, one year and two days after the hostage crisis began, Reagan defeated Carter in a landslide.

On January 21, 1981, just a few hours after Ronald Reagan delivered his inaugural address, the remaining hostages were released. They had been in captivity for 444 days.


For some, the current political debate over the combat readiness of today’s American military stirs memories of a long-ago event that, more than anything else, came to symbolize the disastrously “hollow” forces of the post-Vietnam era.

It began in the evening of April 24, 1980, when a supposedly elite US military force launched a bold but doomed attempt to rescue their fellow American citizens and their nation’s honor from captivity in Tehran. In the early hours of April 25, the effort ended in fiery disaster at a remote spot in Iran known ever after as Desert One.

This failed attempt to rescue 53 hostages from the US Embassy in Tehran resulted in the death of five US Air Force men and three Marines, serious injuries to five other troops, and the loss of eight aircraft. That failure would haunt the US military for years and would torment some of the key participants for the rest of their lives.

One, Air Force Col. James Kyle, called it, “The most colossal episode of hope, despair, and tragedy I had experienced in nearly three decades of military service.”

The countdown to this tragedy opened exactly 20 years ago, in January 1979. A popular uprising in Iran forced the sudden abdication and flight into exile of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, the longtime ruler of Iran and staunch US ally. Brought to power in the wake of this event was a government led, in name, by Shahpur Bakhtiar and Abolhassan Bani Sadr. Within months, they, too, had been shoved aside, replaced by fundamentalist Shiite Muslim clerics led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

On Nov. 4, two weeks after President Jimmy Carter had allowed the shah to enter the US for medical care, 3,000 Iranian “student” radicals invaded the US Embassy in Tehran, taking 66 Americans hostage. Chief of Mission L. Bruce Laingen and two aides were held separately at the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

The students demanded that the shah be returned for trial. Khomeini’s supporters blocked all efforts to free the hostages.

Thirteen black and female hostages would be released later as a “humanitarian” gesture, but the humiliating captivity for the others would drag on for 14 months.


The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has sought the media spotlight following the San Bernardino terror attack last week.

In the hours after the Dec. 2 attack, in which Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and wounded 21 others, CAIR held a press conference featuring the family of the killers.

It was an odd public relations strategy, given that the FBI had not yet been willing to call the attack an act of terrorism. Yet CAIR, in rushing to condemn it, confirmed that it was Islamic terror.

In the days that followed, instead of distancing Muslims from the attack, CAIR almost seemed to insist on the association.

Last Friday, for example, Hussam Ayloush, director of CAIR’s Los Angeles chapter, told CNN that the United States was to blame for provoking the attack through foreign policies Muslims found objectionable: “Let’s not forget that some of our own foreign policy, as Americans, as the West, have fueled that extremism,” he told CNN, listing several policy grievances.

Not content with acting as a mouthpiece for the terrorists’ perceived demands, CAIR offered legal assistance to the family of the terrorists, appearing in court earlier this week to help Farook’s sister, Saira Khan, who is “eagerly awaiting to obtain custody” of the six-month-old baby that he and his wife abandoned before their attack.

CAIR issued a press release drawing attention to its role, almost as if legal assistance were a kind of death benefit offered to would-be terrorists, ensuring their children’s welfare.

CAIR’s actions do not meet the legal definition of “accessory after the fact.” But helping terrorists’ families, and broadcasting their political message–common practices of regimes that support terror, like the Palestinian Authority–is an odd way to carry out CAIR’s mission of improving “American-Islamic relations.” If anything, CAIR’s actions are calculated to inflame those relations.

One might think that an organization that was once named an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism trial – and a designated terror organization in the United Arab Emirates – might be at great pains to distance itself from any new terrorist acts.

But CAIR cultivates its notoriety because it serves the organization’s fundamentalist purposes.

So, for example, CAIR-LA is exploiting the terror attacks to launch a religious outreach campaign, calling on local mosques to stage interfaith vigils in the wake of the attacks. The ostensible purpose of the vigils is to show that Muslims “experience terrorist attacks–regardless of whether they’re perpetrated in the name of Islam–as Americans, not as Muslims.”

In addition, however, interfaith vigils at mosques serve a proselytizing purpose, helping to expose the curious public to Islamic prayer and practice.

If many Americans have trouble distinguishing between radical Islam and Muslims in general, it is because radical organizations like CAIR deliberately blur the distinction, helping those who have declared war on the United States.

CAIR ought to be shamed for exploiting terror–not rewarded by the media and politicians as the leading, and legitimate, voice of American Muslims.

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Paul Markel: Host of Student of the Gun Radio

Paul Markel: Host of Student of the Gun Radio

Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a United States Marine, police officer, professional bodyguard, and small arms and tactics instructor. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly 20 years, and has hundreds of articles in print. A regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows, Markel is a subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students, young and old, for decades and has also worked actively with 4H Shooting Sports programs. Markel holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines; nonetheless, he is, and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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Jarrad Markel: Co-Host and Producer of Student of the Gun Radio

Not just another pretty face, Jarrad Markel has experience and training beyond his years. Jarrad has been training to be a fighter since elementary school when he first learned the art of collegiate wrestling. Now skilled in Jujitsu, Judo, Muay Thai, Sambo, the Way of the Fighting Pistol and Fighting Rifle, Jarrad is a well-rounded, tactical athlete with several professional MMA fights under his belt. More than a brute, Jarrad has brains as well. He is the lead editor and videographer for Student of the Gun and works directly for Think On! Productions creating a wide variety of video material. In addition, Markel is a skilled web & blog designer, building material for the Internet side of the house.


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Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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