Story of a Gun • • • IRAN, May 1951

Did Mossadegh Ever Arm Himself For Protection?

Arash Norouzi

The Mossadegh Project | December 29, 2012                     

“Leave me in the hand of God and I accept whatever he plans for me…” — Mossadegh

Every job has its occupational hazards. In politics and governance, it’s the ever-present threat of assassination. As waves of terror plots and politically motivated killings convulsed in mid-century Iran, Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh was an active member of Parliament, and later, Prime Minister of the country.

Did Mossadegh possess a gun? The question is — did Mossadegh ever carry a gun for his protection? The short answer, evidently, is yes.

It’s well known that early in his Premiership, Mossadegh temporarily resorted to taking sanctuary in the Majles (Parliament) building for his personal safety. Yet the question of whether he ever armed himself has, so far as we know, never been seriously addressed in any related books or biographies of the man, including his own memoirs. Iran Premier Sees Threat To His Life Most of the available information on the subject, in fact, surfaced after a significant speech to the Majles in 1951.

On May 13, 1951, Dr. Mossadegh addressed the Majles with a dramatic message: his life was in danger. He had good reason to believe so. The Shah had been alerted by police and army intelligence of a murder plot by Feda’ian Islam terrorists. And, as Mossadegh described that day, strange, suspicious incidents were occurring around him lately. He continued:

“One of the times that I had the honor of visiting his Imperial Majesty, I remarked that from the day that I became Prime Minister by his grace, I have refrained from carrying any weapons. Now that I have heard some rumors [of potential death threats] I have no choice but to rearm myself. He instructed me to show him my weapon, which I did. He said “How can you defend yourself with this? I’m willing to arrange for some individuals to protect you”. I said that those individuals are not going to be any more trustworthy than the ones who guarded Razmara [Gen. Ali Razmara, Mossadegh’s predecessor], and we saw how they [his assassins] could manage to kill him.

I then cited a poem that came to my mind:

           I know the one who is in charge of my protection
           Could even safequard glass from the rock.” 1

According to Gholam-Hossein Mossadegh, the Shah had offered his father a handgun in addition to armed guards. He refused the guards, but it was not specified if he accepted the gun. There was skepticism and mistrust of both Razmara’s former guards and the monarch’s motivations. “Leave me in the hand of God and I accept whatever he plans for me”, he told the Shah. 2

Though references to the matter of Mossadegh’s relationship to guns are extremely scarce, two high profile articles about Mossadegh’s speech did address it — one in The New York Times on May 14th,3 the other in TIME magazine’s May 21, 1951 issue.4 Curiously, both articles featured the following questionable quote attributed to Mossadegh:

“I have strength and ability to shoot my killer. What God has decided for me will be accomplished. Therefore I need no bodyguard.”
We have not found any substantiation for this alleged statement, but the fact that two separate news outfits produced identical translations can’t be coincidental. The New York Times also claimed incorrectly that Mossadegh told the Majles he had carried a gun “all of my life”.

The most reliable conclusion, then, is what Mossadegh himself admitted: he not only possessed a firearm during this dangerous period of his leadership, but had for some years prior as well. What type of gun he owned, how often he carried this weapon, and for how long he did so is unknown...and like much of history, is likely to remain that way.


1 MOSSADEGH, The years of struggle and opposition Vol. 1 — Col. Gholamreza Nejati
(Translated by Ebrahim Norouzi © 2012 The Mossadegh Project)

2 In the Company of My Father, Gholam-Hossein Mossadegh
(Translated by Ebrahim Norouzi © 2012 The Mossadegh Project)

3 Premier of Iran Airs Threat of Death, Faints After Talk — Michael Clark
The New York Times, May 14, 1951

4 IRAN: Down the Incline to Hell?TIME, May 21, 1951


Related links:

IRAN: Time of the AssassinTIME, December 1, 1952

Mossadegh’s Permanent Estrangement from the Shah

Terror in IranThe Knickerbocker News, August 9, 1952

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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