IRAN: Time of the Assassin

TIME magazine — Monday December 1, 1952

The Mossadegh Project | May 29, 2012                     

We have yet to find a single source corroborating the claim made in this article that Mossadegh met with Razmara's killer. A new book, Patriot of Persia, suggests however that Mossadegh may have had some foreknowledge of the murder, though this remains highly speculative.

TIME magazine archive
Mossadegh media archive

TIME magazine, December 1, 1952

The iron gates of Teheran prison opened one chilly afternoon last week and out stepped a killer, bearded fanatic Khalil Tahmassebi. Nearly two years ago he murdered Ali Razmara, Iran's ablest postwar Premier, and thus started Iran down its unhappy trail. Last week Tahmassebi was a free man, pardoned by Mossadegh's subservient Majlis and captive Shah. The young assassin promptly rushed to the Hazrat Abdolazim shrine, wept joyously and said: "When I killed Razmara, I was sure that his people would kill me."

Then he set out on a round of social calls. He dropped in for a cup of tea with evil old Mullah Kashani, spiritual chief of the fanatic nationalists, co-conspirator with Communists and the man Premier Mossadegh most fears. Kashani embraced the assassin, caressing his beard, and said: "You are a brave son of Islam." The two prayed while the teapot bubbled in the background.

Tahmassebi's next call was on Navab Safavi, hard-working boss of the terrorist Fadayan Islam (Crusaders of Islam), which plotted Razmara's killing. Safavi was himself in jail on suspicion of murdering other moderates, but in present-day Iran that is a mark of distinction. The two wept at the reunion, and Tahmassebi said: "Thanks to God we succeeded in our task." Over fruits and sweets served in his cozy cell, Safavi boasted: "I am such a powerful man that if I decide at any time, the gates of this prison will be opened to me . . . I pray God not to let our chests go to the grave without having been pierced by bullets."

Even Premier Mohammed Mossadegh asked the assassin to call. However, the wily old Premier refused to pose with Tahmassebi and barred photographers from the meeting.

At week's end the celebrating assassin announced: "Politics is not my business. I will go back to my job as a carpenter." But he had one more social call to make: he asked Court Minister Hussein Ala to set up an audience with the Shah. [Hossein Ala]


Related links:

Iran's Decade of Assassinations: 1946-1955

TIME: August 17, 1953 — 99.93% Pure

MOSSADEGH, Islam and Ayatollahs — the rise of fundamentalism in Iran

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

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