U.S. captives in Tehran got first taste of terror
I remember the hostage crisis quite well. I found this article to be quite interesting. Here are a couple of excerpts:
On a Sunday morning 25 years ago, U.S. diplomats in Tehran looked out the window to see hundreds of young Iranians, fired by a love of Islam and a hatred of America, spilling over the walls and through the gate of the embassy compound.
The Americans did not know it, but they were staring at the future â€” a militant Muslim fundamentalism that would one day replace communism as the greatest threat to their nation.
That was Nov. 4, 1979, the beginning of the Iran hostage crisis, and a date on a timeline that would stretch to Sept. 11, 2001, and beyond.
Fifty-two Americans were held captive for 444 days. Although none was seriously hurt, many were beaten, blindfolded, isolated and lined up for mock firing squads. Never had so many representatives of so powerful a nation been abused so flagrantly.
To better understand the impact of the crisis on the hostages and the nation, reporters from USA TODAY and Gannett newspapers around the nation interviewed more than half of the surviving hostages. Although they don’t agree on everything, most have reached these conclusions:
â€¢The Iran crisis taught Americans little about Muslim extremists. â€œWe don’t understand how they think,â€ says Dave Roeder, 65, who was an embassy Air Force attachÃ©. Several hostages recall that when they came home, people were more curious about what they ate than what the crisis said about the use of Islam to compel terror.
â€œThe very people today that are standing up and saying, â€˜We’ve got to do something about this terrorism,’ are people that did not listen to those of us that had actually been out there fighting terrorists for the past 30 years,â€ says Alan Golacinski, 54, the embassy security chief.
â€¢The crisis taught the extremists that terrorism works. When the crisis ended with the captors unrepentant and unpunished, â€œwe were teaching the Middle East what could be gained through an act of terrorism,â€ says Rick Kupke, 57, who was an embassy communications staffer. The lesson was simple, says John Limbert, 61, an embassy political officer who later became ambassador to Mauritania: â€œYou can break the rules and get away with it.â€
As a result, many hostages say they expected a disaster like 9/11. Bill Daughtery, a CIA agent in the embassy and now a college political science professor, describes his reaction to the 2001 attacks this way: â€œ â€˜What took them so long?’ â€
For many former hostages, Sept. 11 was particularly difficult. â€œIt made me physically sick,â€ says Paul Lewis, 47, a former embassy Marine guard. â€œI thought, â€˜They finally found a way to get here.’ â€