127. Telegram 2495 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2

Subj:

  • Intensification of Anti-GOI Subversive Efforts

Ref:

  • Tehran 0671
1.
There has been in last three months continuation and definite intensification of signs we noted earlier (para 5 reftel) that externally directed and supported subversive elements are focusing increasing attention upon Iran during 1971. (We understand from statements attributed to new Turkish Prime Minister that there has also been similar intensification of such activity in Turkey.)
2.
Two most dramatic recent examples in Iran of course, are:
A.
Effort to establish permanent guerrilla base (with external support) in Lahijan region of Alborz Mountains (Tehran A–91). Although actions by Iranian security forces in January seem to have prevented formation of such base and resulted in capture of most of “partisans,” some still remain at large.
B.
Assassination of Gen. Farsioo in broad daylight in Tehran [Page 2]in early March (Tehran 1823), apparently undertaken by remnants of Lahijan guerrillas in order to demonstrate what is in store if GOI undertook further executions of their captured colleaques. (As Chief of Judge Advocate Generals department, Farsioo was held responsible for execution of 13 Lahijan dissidents in mid March after brief military trial).
3.
In addition to these two major and much-publicized subversive efforts, there has been series of other unpublicized incidents:
A.
Threats in late February, apparently inspired by radical confederation of Iranian students (CIS) to kidnap German Ambassador, his son, or German press attache (Tehran A–108) possible as result firmer attitude displayed by FRG vis-a-vis CIS members in FedRep:
B.
An armed attack on local Tehran police station for the purpose of acquiring weapons just the day before shooting of General Farsioo, which many in GOI believe was integral part of assassination plot.
C.
Report from usually reliable source that number of “dissidents,” (quite possibly remnants of Lahijan partisans) entered officers’ mess at Bandar Pahlavi Naval Station in mid-April and shot three officers, perhaps killing one or two:
D.
Report from Gov. Gen. Sheibani of Mazanderan Province of incidents and growing radicalism among members of literacy corps in his province. Sheibani, convinced these not isolated incidents, sufficiently concerned to have several corpsmen relieved of duties and to urge GOI be more watchful:
E.
Disturbing and unprecendented element at Tehran University where, just before No Ruz vacation, walk-outs at science and technology faculties involved element of “activism for sake of activism” and were accompanied by harsh physical violence in broad daylight against at least one university administrator (with result some others became unwilling walk on campus for several days):
F.
Reports (which have come to us from UK Embassy) that small group of Iraqi frogmen were recently detected in or near Bandar Shahpur harbor (before doing any damage), and that Iraq has begun covert program of supplying arms to insurgents in Baluchistan. [Page 3](Comment: Quite possible that Iraqis feel plight of farmers in Sistan and Baluchistan as result current severe drought there, combined with traditional tension between Baluchis and central government, makes that area particularly ripe for dissident activity):
G.
Report from usually reliable source that, in early April, bomb was placed in car of General Hojjati (Chief of Artillery Center, Isfahan) and exploded shortly before General scheduled use car:
H.
Possibility bomb was thrown at US Consul Ramsay while in Mahabad on official trip April 26 (Tabriz 6) and explosion of bomb or other device in IAS Cultural Center May 5 (Tehran 2380).
4.

Detailed information re exactly who and what is behind various incidents reported above (para 3) is somewhat fragmentary. However, qualified observers agree that nature, number and frequency of subversive incidents is such as to clearly indicate external forces are stepping up their activities against GOI during 1971—through actions undertaken by their own agents acting alone, and by exploiting sense of grievance felt by certain minority anti-Shah and anti-GOI elements within Iran (e.g. including roughly ten percent of activist students in Iranian universities, disaffected liberals and intellectuals, certain tribal elements, etc.). Motivation of external forces seeking to instigate, encourage or support such subversive efforts are generally believed to be mixed:

[Page 4]

A) Desire to create instability and uncertainty in Iran and sap its present position as only strong, stable and progressive in this region with unusually close ties and association with West, particularly US: B) Desire to weaken Iran before British withdrawal from Gulf so that Iranian strength cannot be as effectively used to help moderate Arab Gulf regimes survive expected national liberation front offensives following British withdrawal: C) Desire to weaken Iran so it will eventually be more responsive to external pressures should Soviets at some future time replace present policy of sweetness and light with threats and pressures: D) interest in weakening and embarrassing Shah and his government during year of 25th centenary celebrations (particularly as October draws nearer) by creating incidents which could have psychological impact both at home and abroad far out of proportion to actual impact on domestic security situation.

5.
Actual security situation in Iran remains stable and sound. While certain elements do represent fertile fields for exploitation by external forces (e.g. 10 percent of activist Iranian university students, confederation of Iranian students abroad, possibly some tribal elements in certain regions, plus some intellectuals and some well educated (abroad) younger [Page 5]men who resent autocratic nature of Iranian socio-political system or feel they are not receiving their due or being allowed play proper role in Iranian social and political system), such elements represent distinct minority of their own groups. Moreover, large majority of industrial labor and urban dwellers (whose standards of living have advanced substantially in last few years) and traditionally conservative villgers (60 percent of population) remain largely unaffected by such grievances and, thus, by externally directed subversive programs. Of course, if this is to remain so the Shah will have to continue to expand his program for economic and social reform and advancement (as he is doing) to meet rising level of expectations. Shah has additional asset going for him: unquestoned pride of average Iranian that after several hundred years of British, Russian and other foreign domination, Iran is at last free and independent and moving ahead under own steam.
6.
To date reaction of GOI to incidents noted para 3 above has generally been one of sober concern—demonstrated, at least in Tehran and environs, by greatly intensified security precautions at police and military installations, as well as for important personnages who might be targets of attack. Information about incidents plus visible increase in security precautions have caused rumor mills to work over time (producing either reports of many more incidents than noted above or greatly embellished accounts thereof): and this in turn has helped produce tem[garble—temporary?] sense of jitters among many from educated public, as well as some with GOI, which has not been felt here for long time.
MacArthur
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23 IRAN. Secret. Repeated to Ankara, Dhahran, Jidda, Kuwait, London, and Moscow.
  2. Ambassador MacArthur notified the Department that instances of “externally directed and supported” anti-government subversion in Iran had increased in recent months.