Iranian Hostage Crisis

By: Alejandro Rebolloso & Sabas Lopez


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.

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.

Important People

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: Revolutionanist who promised a break from the past and a turn toward greater autonomy for the Iranian people.

Jimmy Carter: President of the United States in 1976-1980, gave The Shah the ability to come to the U.S. and have a cancer treatment which angered the students and ended up as the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

Ronald Reagon: President of the United States that delivered his inaugural address and set the hostages free.

Shah: Another word for King in Iran.