102. Telegram 5142 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2


  • Attempted Abduction and/or Assassination of Ambassador and Wife
My wife and I dined informally with Court Minister Alam last evening (Nov 30) because he wished to discuss with me some matters which deeply concerned Shah. Only Minister of Economy Ansary and wife were present. My wife and I left Alam’s home to return to Embassy residence about 11:00 p.m. midway between Alam’s residence and Embassy on a broad boulevard a large car containing three or four men (estimated age mid-twenties) overtook us and swerved toward us forcing our car toward curb. Since this was eve of holiday (celebrating end of Ramazan) we and our driver Haikaz initially assumed car occupants were simply exuberant celebrants of forthcoming holiday. However, when Haikaz refused to be forced further toward curb, car swerved in, striking left side of our car in deliberate attempt to force us to curb and cut us off. Assailants did succeed in virtually bring us to a halt. At same time second car took positon behind us. In rapidly moving movie type scenario, two men jumped out of car, one with pistol pointed at us shouting and gesticulating for us to get out. I instructed our chauffeur, Haikaz, who behaved superbly, to go full speed ahead and he skillfully disengaged from the car which had forced us towards curb and accelerated, maneuvering our Cadillac between assailant’s car and jube, whereupon man with pistol fired pointblank at us as we dropped to floor (bullet loging in door frame by rear seat). At same time second man hurled ax at rear side window shattering it completely with ax coming to rest with us on floor of our car.
I reported incident to Court Minister Alam immediately upon return to Embassy and he in turn at once reported to Shah and PriMin. entire Iranian security apparatus was immediately alerted and started investigation. Prime Minister called me personally to express deep regret and proposed that special Iranian security guard be provided for both my wife and me. I have accepted this offer and will handle in way which we hope will not be too obtrusive.
Although no one except few of my closest associates knows of attack, in view of condition of car and fact that Iranian guards at Embassy and household personnel and motor pool people are aware that there was some incident, knew that something happened will in due course leak out. Embassy personnel have simply been told we had auto accident but nobody hurt.
I am particularly anxious that this matter be treated publicly in way which will not rpt not embarrass GOI. Accordingly, Court Minister Alam (after consultation with Shah and PriMin Hoveyda) and I have agreed that we will volunteer no statement about incident but if we are queried response will be that while returning to residence from a dinner last evening our car was sideswiped by a hit-and-run driver who was proceeding at a high rate of speed and that car suffered broken window and some other damage but nobody hurt. We can not speculate on whether accident was deliberate on part of hit-and-run driver or simply result of very bad driving for which Iran is known.
I trust foregoing will be held very closely in Dept on need-to-know basis and that nothing will be said or volunteered by anyone. If Dept should be queried, request it reply as agreed with Alam in para 4 and that I be notified of query. Thus far nobody has a clue as to who was behind attack or what motivated it but since other of my principal associates could possibly also be targets we are reviewing urgently our security procedures.
Finally I will in due course propose our driver Haikaz for very special award for without his courage, coolness and skill there would not have been a happy ending.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 17 US-IRAN. Secret; Nodis. In Telegram 196031 to Tehran, December 2, the Department agreed that the official story should be that the Ambassador’s car had been struck by a hit-and-run driver. (Ibid.)
  2. Ambassador MacArthur notified the Department that the previous evening, he and his wife had been the victims of an abduction or assassination attempt that would not be publicized.