Donald N. Wilber and Operation Ajax.
A Detailed Account of the Overthrow of Mossadaq,
Prime Minister of Iran, and the Return
of the Young Shah to the Peacock Throne.
CS Historical Paper No. 208
Some Background on the following Paper
by Ron O'Callaghan
Publisher, Oriental Rug Review
Donald N. Wilber was a principal in the CIA's overthrow of Iran's Prime Minister Mossadeq in 1953. He was also my friend, business partner, mentor on rugs and life, and something of a father figure. We often spent time together at various rug events around the world and had spent time in each others' homes. Don and Peg's house at 50 Wilson Rd. In Princeton, N. J. was thought to be a CIA asset. Svetlana (Stalin) Alliluyeva, Joseph Stalin's daughter, lived there for a while, courtesy of the Agency. Don made no secret of his CIA career nor of his role in Op AJAX.
While at a rug conference in the late 80s, I had retired to my hotel room at around 10:00 pm, opened a beer and was watching the news on TV. I heard a knock on the door. I asked who was there and the response was the unmistakeable sound of ice swirling in a cocktail shaker. It was Don in pajamas, bathrobe and slippers holding a Martini shaker. "I wasn't ready to go to bed and thought you might join me in a cocktail", he said. I quickly abandoned my beer, turned off the TV and heard Don's story of his journey across the Middle East in his woody Ford station wagon in the 1930s. That trip is mentioned in another article in this issue, but I got it nearly kilometer by kilometer, with such arcane detail as his observation of the Fordson ditch, or trail. Some years before Don's trip a Fordson tractor travelled a long distance in the desert cutting a straight ditch that would be an aid to aviators. It was all wonderful stuff.
We had one last martini, the ice having diluted the drinks a bit. I said, "I would like to hear about AJAX sometime." He said, "there is some detail I can't tell you, and a lot I have forgotten." Then he told me about the long memorandum he had written on AJAX for the Agency within a year after the event. I don't recall whether he said he was instructed to write this account or volunteered to do it. I think it would be well to tell of Don's attitude toward the Agency at the time of our conversation. He deeply resented the Agency's lack of support of the former Director, Richard Helms, who was under attack by a couple of governmental branches. He also bore resentment towards the Agency's shift from human intelligence (humint - people in the field) to more technical intelligence, spy satellites and the rest. He was most recently offended by the Agency's handling of the manuscript of his memoir, Adventures in the Middle East, Excursions and Incursions. On the grounds of revealing of tradecraft secrets, they were cutting long passages from the book. "Tradecraft!," Don would Harumph. "They thought I shouldn't tell of passing a message tucked into a book to an agent on the street. That's what they called ‘tradecraft'." Don was in high feather.
"Maybe you will get to read the paper sometime in the future," he offered. "I bet your paper is buried or burned or shredded, by now." I responded. "Oh, there are more than one copy about," Don said this with characteristic arched eyebrows. Don died in 1997. It was in 2000 that I heard his paper on AJAX had surfaced. Reference was made to it in a lengthy New York Times article, and the text of the paper was published on the Time's website. The text on the website had many redactions to protect the innocent and the guilty. A man named John Young was reading the text on the internet, using a slow, obsolete computer. He discovered that the names popped up a moment or so before the black-out bars covered them over. By hitting his "pause" button he could freeze the names. The Times says they have corrected the problem, but the cat was out of the bag and the full text of Don's paper is all over the internet, complete with many formerly redacted names, places, and organizations. Don would have loved all of this. In this iteration of Don's paper we have edited out what were once redacted names. We are sure these people are either all dead or retired to villas on the Riviera, but we don't want to bear responsibility for some one else's life or freedom. The names wouldn't mean anything to most readers, anyway.
A note on editing: We had edited Don's articles for 15 years and assisted in proof reading his last couple of books. The style of writing in the document below is very much Don's. We were surprised, however, at the number of typographical errors in it. Don's manuscripts that we have worked with were meticulous. In this piece letters in words were transposed, often the last letter of a word was dropped, and in a couple instances there were errors we have seen on optically scanned material; wire spelled wme, for example. It is possible that the material was scanned from a several generation photo copy. We have edited just for typos, not for content. We also have found the redactions to be erratic. At one point the Qashqa'i tribal lands are mentioned, then, later Qashqa'i was redacted, though from context, it was obvious that was the tribe referred to. Don was a great friend and champion of the Qashqa'i. The only time I saw him weep was when he learned an old friend, a great Qashqa'i Khan was executed. In this document, Don writes of himself in the third person.
S E C R E T
CLANDESTINE SERVICE HISTORY
OVERTHROW OF PREMIER MOSSADEQ OF IRAN
November 1952-August 1953
Date written: March 1954
Date published: October 1969
Written by : Dr. Donald N. Wilber
This paper, entitled Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran, was written in March 1954 by Dr. Donald N. Wilber who had played an active role in the operation. The study was written because it seemed desirable to have a record of a major operation prepared while documents were readily at hand and while the memories of the personnel involved in the activity were still fresh. In addition, it was felt advisable to stress certain conclusions reached after the operation had been completed and to embody some of these in the form of recommendations applicable to future, parallel operations.
Documents pertaining to the operation described in this paper are in the Project TPAJAX files which are held by the Iran Branch of the Near East and South Asia Division.
All proper names mentioned in this paper have been checked for accuracy and completeness. A serious effort has been made to supply the first name and middle initial of each individual. The omission of any first names and middle initials indicates that such information could not be located.
Dean L. Dodge
June 18, 2000
The New York Times
The C.I.A.'s history of the 1953 coup in Iran is made up of the following documents: a historian's note, a summary introduction, a lengthy narrative account written by Dr. Donald N. Wilber, and, as appendices, five planning documents he attached. On April 16, 2000, The New York Times on the Web published the introduction and several of the appendices.
The Times has now decided to publish the main body of the text after removing certain names and identifying descriptions. The editing was done after consultations with historians who believed there might be serious risk that the families of some of those named as foreign agents would face retribution in Iran.
The introduction summary and the main body of the document are inconsistent on a few dates and facts. In its reporting on the document, the Times has relied upon details presented in the main body of the text.
The table of contents provides navigation throughout the document. Each entry is linked to the relevant section of this file. The table of contents page appears at the end of each chapter and appendix.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
HISTORIAN'S NOTE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . i
SUMMARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iii
I. PRELIMINARY STEPS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
II. DRAFTING THE PLAN . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
III. CONSOLIDATING THE OPERATIONAL PLAN . . . . . . . . . 12
IV. THE DECISIONS ARE MADE: ACTIVITY BEGINS . . . . . . 16
V. MOUNTING PRESSURE AGAINST THE SHAH . . . . . . . . . 22
VI. THE FIRST TRY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
VII. APPARENT FAILURE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
VIII. "THE SHAH IS VICTORIOUS" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
IX. REPORT TO LONDON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
X. WHAT WAS LEARNED IN THE OPERATION . . . . . . . . . . 85
A Initial Operation Plan for TPAJAX, as Cabled from Nicosia to Headquarters on 1 June 1953
B "London" Draft of the TPAJAX Operational Plan
C Foreign Office Memorandum of 23 July 1953 from British Ambassador Wakins to under Secretary of State Smith
D Report on Military Planning Aspect of TPAJAX
E Military Critique - Lessons Learned from TPAJAX
re Military Planning Aspects of Coup d'Etat
Redactions in this section; shown by [ ].
I. PRELIMINARY STEPS
Representatives of British Intelligence met with Near East and Africa (NEA) Division representatives in Washington during November and December 1952 for the purpose of discussing joint war and staybehind plans in Iran. In attendance for British Intelligence were Mr. Christopher Montague Woodhouse, recently Chief of Station for British Intelligence in Tehran; Mr. Samuel Falle of the British Intelligence station in Tehran; and Mr. John Bruce Lockhart, SIS Washington representative. In attendance for NEA Division were Mr. Kermit Roosevelt, Chief of Division, Mr. John H. Leavitt, Chief of Iran Branch; Mr. John W. Pendleton, Deputy Chief of Division; and Mr. James A. Darling, Chief of NEA Paramilitary Staff.
Although it was not on the previously agreed agenda of the meeting, British Intelligence representatives brought up the proposition of a joint political action to remove Prime Minister Mossadeq. The NEA Division had not intended to discuss this question at all and was unprepared to do so. The meeting concluded without any decision being made and with the NEA Division committing itself only to study in more detail the political action proposals advanced by British Intelligence.
In March 1953 a telegram was received from the Tehran Station which stated that General [ ] had contacted the assistant military attache and had requested Ambassador (Loy) Henderson's views as to whether or not the US Government was interested in covertly supporting an Iranian military effort to oust Premier Mossadeq. A meeting was held in the Embassy at which Headquarters personnel, then in the field, and station personnel were in attendance.
A cautiously worded reply was drafted at Headquarters and its substance delivered to General [ ]. The reply did not commit the United States in any way but was mildly encouraging and revealed some US interest in the idea.
On the basis of the [ ] overture and other clear signs that determined opposition to Mossadeq was taking shape, and in view of the totally destructive and reck less attitude of the government of Prime Minister Mossadeq, General Walter Bedell Smith, Undersecretary of State, determined that the US Government could no longer approve of the Mossadeq government and would prefer a successor government in which there would be no National Frontists. The change in policy was communicated to CIA, and the NEA Division was informed that it was authorized to consider operations which would contribute to the fall of the Mossadeq government. The Department of State and CIA jointly informed Ambassador Henderson and the Chief of Station, Roger Goiran, of the new policy and of the operational authorization. The Director, on 4 April 1953, approved a budget of $1,000,000 which could be used by the Tehran Station in any way that would bring about the fall of Mossadeq. Full authority was given to Ambassador Henderson and the Chief of Station enabling any part or all of the $1,000,000 to be used without further authority, as long as the Ambassador and the station concurred.
On 16 April 1953 a comprehensive study entitled: "Factors Involved in the Overthrow of Mossadeq" was completed. The Study indicated that a Shah-General[ ] combination, supported by CIA local assets and financial backing, would have a good chance of overthrowing Mossadeq, particularly if this combination should be able to get the largest mobs in the streets and if a sizable portion of the Tehran garrison refused to carry out Mossadeq's orders.
Subsequent contact was made with General [ ]. Although his motives appeared serious, it soon became apparent that he had no concrete plan and was in fact in no position to take action against Mossadeq.
General [ ], who at one time was a member of Mossadeq's cabinet, stood out as the only major personality in undisguised opposition to Mossadeq. For this reason he attacted to himself a considerable following. The Tehran Station, in April 1953, reestablished covert contact with [ ] through Commander Eric Pollard, the US Naval Attache. In order to make the covert liaison with [ ] more effective and reliable, and also for security reasons, [ ]'s son,[ ] [ ], was selected as the means of contact with General [ ] in June 1953. After 21 July 1953, contact with General [ ] was made directly.
II. DRAFTING THE PLAN
Near the end of April 1953 Dr. Donald N. Wilber, covert consultant to NEA, was selected by the Division to go to Nicosia and, in close collaboration with SIS, draw up a plan for the overthrow of Mossadeq. The assumption by Headquarters was that the planners would come up with a project which they could conscientiously recommend.
The discussions were begun at Nicosia on 13 May 1953 between Wilber and SIS Officer Norman Matthew Darbyshire. Occasionally Mr. H. John Collins, Chief of SIS station at Nicosia, was also present. Mr. Darbyshire, who was in charge of SIS's Iran branch, had been in Iran for several years and was fluent in the language. Discussions were concluded on 30 May 1953, and the completed draft of a recommended operational plan was cabled by Dr. Wilber to Headquarters on 1 June.
The opening meetings consisted of a review of all the important personalities on the political scene in Iran with a view toward determining whether General [ ], the most prominent politician in opposition to Mossadeq, was in fact the sole figure worthy of support and, if so, what individuals and elements should be enlisted in his support. It soon became apparent that Dr. Wilber and Mr. Darbyshire held quite similar views of Iranian personalities and had made very similar estimates of the factors involved in the Iranian political scene. There was no friction or marked difference of opinion during the discussions. It also quickely became apparent that the SIS was perfectly content to follow whatever lead was taken by the Agency. It seemed obvious to Wilber that the British were very pleased at having obtained the active cooperation of the Agency and were determined to do nothing which might jeopardize US participation. At the same time there was a faint note of envy expressed over the fact that the Agency was better equipped in the way of funds, personnel, and facilities than was SIS.
Wilber reported the preliminary conversations concern ing a three-way channel, set up for this occasion, which was designed to insure immediate relay between Washington, Nicosia, and Tehran. That is, a message originating at any one of these places would be sent by the most expeditious route to the other two. This route was the Middle East Communications Authority (MECA) link, the relay station a few miles outside of Nicosia.*
*Unfortunately, communications between Nicosia and Tehran were not as rapid as was hoped during this period in which more than 45 cables were exchanged.
Discussions at Nicosia moved on to a disclosure of assets by both parties. Those by SIS were centered upon the contacts of the [ ] brothers in such fields as the armed forces, the Majlis (Iranian Parliament), religious leaders, the press, street gangs, politicians, and other influential figures. When this material was relayed from Nicosia, the Tehran Station commented that it was their belief that these assets had been far overstated and oversold. In reply it was pointed out that SIS was as aware as we of the weaknesses of the [ ], but that one of the strongest points in their favor was their avowed willingness to risk their possessions and their lives in an attempt against Mossadeq. In the critical days of August 1953 the [ ] did display such a willingness. SIS disclosures were followed by those of Dr. Wilber for CIA. Prior to Wilber's departure a discussion was held at Headquarters to determine which of the station assets should be disclosed to the SIS in return for promised disclosures by the SIS of the assets which they were prepared to put into an operational plan. It was agreed at Headquarters that the identities of the vitally important principal agents of the Tehran Station, [ ] [and ] would not be disclosed. Since the SIS had been informed during the November 1952 meetings referred to above that CIA had two major principal agents in Iran, it was necessary to offer two such in place of [ and] [ ]. This was done, naming a station agent and a sub-agent** of [ ] to these important posts.
To the best of our knowledge [ and ] were not uncovered by the [ ] brothers or any other SIS agents during the course of this operation.
The continuing conversations at Nicosia were reflected by outgoing cables requesting, principally from the Tehran Station, information which would be helpful in drafting the operational plan.
Discussions now narrowed down to a series of basic assumptions which were stressed both in the draft plan and in its final form. It was determined that the details of the operational plan should be included within a framework of such basic assumptions as these: that [ ] alone of potential candidates had the vigor and courage to make him worthy of support; that the Shah must be brought into the operation; that the Shah would act only with great reluctance but that he could be forced to do so; that if the [ ]
issue was clear-cut the armed forces would follow the Shah rather than Mossadeq; that the operation must, if possible, be made to appear legal or quasi-legal instead of an outright coup; that public opinion must be fanned to fever pitch against Mossadeq in the period just preceding the execution of the overthrow operation; that the military aspect would be successful only if the station were able to review the plan with the Iranians chosen by [ ] to execute it; that immediate precautions must be taken by the new government to meet a strong reaction by the Tudeh Party (Communists). Some of these assumptions were presented in cables sent off before the draft plan was completed. The reactions from the Tehran Station and Headquarters did not always express agreement with the ideas of the planners. The station expressed its feeling that the Shah would not act decisively against Mossadeq, while Headquarters wondered whether we should not support some other individual and whether the Persians themselves might not take the lead in action designed to overthrow Mossadeq. It was, however, agreed that the station should begin at once with its new policy of attacking the government of Mossadeq through grey propaganda. The station relayed this line to its own agents and passed it on to the [ ] brothers of SIS. The CIA Art Group, a section of the PP Staff Advisory Panel, was asked to prepare a considerable number of anti-Mossadeq cartoons.
The meetings were interrupted for several days when one of the [ ] brothers managed to get permission to leave Iran*--not at all an easy matter during the Mossadeq period--and went to Geneva where he was met by SIS Officer Norman Darbyshire. He not only briefed Darbyshire on the current situation but was able to give comprehensive answers to a number of specific questions. It should be noted that the SIS station at Nicosia had been in tri-weekly wireless contact with the [ ] brothers at Tehran, employing the best of the British trained stay-behind operators. This contact, in Persian, was naturally limited in time, and even more limited after we passed word to Darbyshire on his return from Geneva that the Iranian armed forces were now in possession of (radio) directional finders supplied under MAAG.
Mr. George A. Carroll (FI Deputy Tehran, Designate) arrived at Nicosia on 29 May, in time to pass along reactions and suggestions from Headquarters, prior to the completion of the draft plan. As stated, this draft was cabled to Headquarters on 1 June 1953. (See Appendix A for a typed transcript of the cable.) *It is interesting to note that [ ] obtained his exit visa to leave Iran and his reentry permit from no less a supporter of Mossadeq than Foreign Minister [ ]. This lends some evidence to long held CIA views that [ ] was from time to time susceptible to British overtures and was trying to keep a hand in with the opposition and British in the event Mossadeq fell. He was certainly aware of [ ] agent status with the British.
While Nicosia proved to be a handy point of contact with the British and a fairly good communications intersection point, it did have certain disadvantages. It was remote from the headquarters of either agency, and, even worse, the SIS station files were extremely inadequate so that any information on personalities, especially members of the Iranian armed forces, had to be obtained by querying the Tehran Station and Headquarters.
Once the draft plan had been cabled, it was agreed with SIS that their copy would be hand-carried to London where the viewpoint of the SIS headquarters would be incorporated prior to 15 June. In the meantime, as had been agreed with Headquarteers, the Agency would conduct a searching scrutiny of the plan at Beirut, and then bring these results to London for amalgamation with the draft as reworked by SIS at London. Carroll remained a few days after the completion of the draft to begin work on the military aspect of the plan. He also returned to Nicosia for a few additional days after the close of the Beirut meetings for this purpose. It must be noted that Miss Helen E. Morgan, CIA representative at Nicosia, gave strong support to the CIA personnel who worked at Nicosia.
III. CONSOLIDATING THE OPERATIONAL PLAN
On the afternoon of 9 June all those who were to take part in the discussions arrived in Beirut: Mr. Kermit Roosevelt, Chief NEA and project chief throughout the operation, came in by plane from London; Carroll came from Cyprus by plane; Roger Goiran, Chief of Station at Tehran, drove on from Damascus by car; and Wilber came in from Cairo by air.
On the morning of 10 June the talks got underway and continued for four days. The usual schedule was to start quite early, carry through until about two o'clock, and then assemble again in the late afternoon. The first order of business was a reexamination of all the factors and elements of the political scene in Iran in the light of the current and comprehensive information supplied by the Tehran chief of station. After all the basic principles of the draft plan had been accepted, the attention of the conferees turned to a section by section consideration of the plan. The object of the meetings was to determine how each section could be given the maximum structure and impact. One switch in general outlook was made that was most salutary for all later thinking. The draft plan had implied that definite counteraction would have to be taken against some of the strongest elements supporting Mossadeq, such as the Qashqai tribal leaders; but it was now decided that every effort should be devoted to increasing the size and effectiveness of the anti-Mossadeq forces, the assumption being that Mossadeq's supporting elements would not react once their leader was out of the picture.
The Tehran chief of station suggested that an alternative plan to provide for the overthrow of Mossadeq be developed. This was to become the Amini/Qashqai plan which the station kept alive as a possible alternative until the successful conclusion of TPAJAX.
Saturday afternoon the group held its final meeting and on the next morning, 14 June, departed by plane for its several destinations.
Roosevelt and Wilber arrived in London on 15 June and reported to the main offices of the SIS at 54 Broadway. They turned over the Beirut revision of the plan. No copy of the original Beirut draft exists, since it was reworked to form the final "London" draft.
The London meetings were held in one of the conference rooms at 54 Broadway, notable only for a large sign with the legend in red, "Curb Your Guests." For the SIS, Commander Maurice M. Firth and Norman Darbyshire, who had come on from Nicosia by way of Geneva (where he had seen [ ] a second time before the latter went back to Iran) were always present. Upon occasion Major P. (Paddy) J. Keen, whose post seemed to be that of desk officer for several Middle East countries, also participated. Montague Woodhouse, clearly one of their most highly esteemed officers, attended a single meeting but had little to contribute.
From the moment the discussion began, it was clear that the SIS had no major comments of their own on the draft plan. Nor did they have much to say on the Beirut version beyond a certain close attention to phraseology. As at Nicosia it was apparent that the Americans were to be placated and allowed to run things as they pleased. They did, however, seem to have abundant confidence in the plan and in the successful outcome of the operation, and said that the [ ] would be ordered to follow completely the orders of CIA's Tehran Station.
At the final meeting those present reviewed the future conduct of affairs. The SIS officers stated that they thought it would take some time to obtain a firm decision from their government as to the approval or non-approval of the plan.
Roosevelt and Wilber left London on 17 June, and Roosevelt was back in his office by noon of the 18th.
There the plan was immediately reconstructed and typed up. (It is given as Appendix B and it should be read at this point in the chronological account of the operation.)
IV. THE DECISIONS ARE MADE: ACTIVITY BEGINS
Since the meetings at Beirut and London had taken such a relatively short time, there was not too much that Headquarters could do in the interval from the time of Roosevelt's departure until his return. Progress had, however, been made in setting up a specific and close liaison with the State Department. The fact that an operational plan was being prepared was already known to a very restricted number of individuals in the State Department,* and it should be noted that the security there seems to have been excellent up to the time of the event.
* Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles
Under Secretary of State, General Walter Bedell Smith
Deputy Under Secretary of State, Harrison Freeman Matthews
Assistant Secretary of State/NEA, Mr. Henry A. Byroade
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State/NEA, mr. John Durnford Jernagan
Liaison, Mr. James Lampton Berry
The Greece-Turkey-Iran (GTI) office of the Department of State presented its informed opinion in two papers: one was a top secret paper of 6 June 1953 entitled, "Proposal to Bring about a Change of Government in Iran" and the other a top secret undated GTI memorandum on the subject, "Measures which the United States Government might take in support of a successor government to Mossadeq."
It was not the task of officers of the State Department to obtain high level decisions on the plan. However, the State Department did assert that, prior to acceptance of the plan, assurance must be forthcoming from the British that they would be flexible in their approach to the government that succeeded Mossadeq as far as the oil question was concerned.
Mr. Leslie Herbert Mitchell, UK Embassy officer (SIS representative) charged with liaison with the Agency, concerned himself with this point and did expedite the required assurances from the British Government. These assurances took the form of a foreign office memorandum presented by British Ambassador to the United States, Roger Mellor Makins, to Under Secretary of State Smith on 23 July 1953. (Copy attached as Appendix C.) Also the Department of State wanted to satisfy itself that an adequate amount of interim economic aid would be forthcoming to the successor government before it would finally approve decisive action.
During this same period discussions between Agency officers and Ambassador Henderson (in Washington, having arrived on consultation 3 June) began 8 June. (This is recorded in a memorandum of conversation contained in TPAJAX files.) The Ambassador appeared to backtrack some what from his earlier opinion that the premise of the plan that the Shah would cooperate was fallacious, and that the Shah would not issue a firman (royal decree) naming [ ] unless in response to a vote of inclination by the Majlis. The Ambassador, who was always thoroughly cooperative, was absorbed in a search for constructive suggestions and willingly agreed to delay his return to Tehran by arranging a prolonged visit in Europe. From the standpoint of the plan it was not considered advisable to have the Ambassador in Tehran when the final operation was undertaken. In addition, his continued absence was thought to be an important factor in the war of nerves which was to be conducted against Mossadeq.
The following approvals of the operational plan were obtained on the dates indicated:
Director CIA - 11 July 1953
Director SIS - 1 July 1953
Foreign Secretary - 1 July 1953
Secretary of State - 11 July 1953
Prime Minister - 1 July 1953
President - 11 July 1953
Pending final approval or disapproval of the operational plan, the station was carrying forward activities already authorized toward the achievement of the goal. In addition to the general authorization of April enabling the Tehran Station to spend up to $1,000,000 in covert activity in support of [ ], the station on 20 May specifically authorized to spend one million rials a week (rate of 90 rials to the US dollar) in purchasing the cooperation of members of the Iranian Majlis.
On or about the end of June the station had established direct contact with the [ ] brothers and was prepared to instruct them as their role and those of their contacts in the development of the operation.
At Headquarters two groups were organized within the NEA Branch on 22 June in support of Tehran Station operational preparations. One group, headed by Carroll who had returned from Nicosia in mid-June, was to make an exhaustive study of the military aspects of the overthrow operation.
(Carroll's final report on the military aspect of TPAJAX planning is attached as Appendix D.) The intent was to present [ ] and his chosen military secretariat with a concrete plan for their modification or improvement. It was felt that every effort should be made to bring the rather long-winded and often illogical Persians into a position where each one knew exactly what specific action was required of him. The soundness of this feeling was demonstrated when the failure of the Persians to maintain security resulted in the initial breakdown. The other group, headed by Wilber, assumed responsibility for the psychological warfare phases of the plan. Overall direction of these groups and of relations with the field station were in the hands of Mr. John Henry Waller, head of NEA Branch.
Carroll left for Tehran in mid-July. He stopped over at London to discuss his military plan with SIS Officer Norman Darbyshire and finally reached Tehran on 21 July. Wilber's group sent guidance cables and dispatches to the station, all intended to flesh up the skeleton of psychological operations as presented in the plan itself. In the meantime a considerable number of anti-Mossadeq articles were written or outlined by the group while the CIA Art Group was given constant guidance in its preparation of a large number of anti-Mossadeq cartoons and broadsheets. In addition, these artists did an effective drawing for a wall poster showing [ ] being presented to the Iranian people by the Shah. Written and illustrative material piled up rapidly, and on 19 July a special courier took it all to Tehran. On 22 July the station began to distribute the material to several agents. What happened to this material will be described in later pages.
By the time that the go-ahead had been received from all parties involved, the NEA Division had picked out qualified individuals for special assignments connected with the project: Mr. Roosevelt, Chief, NEA, was to be field commander in Tehran; John H. Leavitt, NEA/CPP, was to go to Nicosia to be in contact and liaison with the SIS station and to maintain the three-way wireless contact established earlier; while Colonel Stephen Johnson Meads drew the job of representing the Agency in meetings in Paris with Princess Ashraf, energetic twin sister of the Shah. Mr. Joseph C. Goodwin, Chief of Station in Tehran, was to act for purposes of TPAJAX as chief of staff to the field commander, Mr. Roosevelt. Mr. George Carroll, Chief FI Tehran, was given the military planning responsibility first in Washington, then in Tehran. Dr. Donald Wilber was charged throughout the operation with the propaganda aspects of the plan and worked closely with the CIA Art Group in the preparation of propaganda material. Mr. John Waller, just having returned from service as Chief FI, Tehran, was charged with the Headquarters support responsibilities during TPAJAX and maintained the required liaison with the Departments of State and Defense. Although not present in Tehran for the final implementation of TPAJAX, Mr. Roger Goiran, previous Chief of Station Tehran, directed the early stages and preliminaries of the operation in Tehran. It should be here noted that Mr. Goiran, more than any other officer, was responsible for having developed, over a five-year period, station assets which proved valuable and necessary to the operation.
V. MOUNTING PRESSURE AGAINST THE SHAH
From the very beginning it had been recognized that the Shah must be forced to play a specific role, however reluctant he might prove to be. Therefore, the plan presented a series of measures designed to rid him once and for all of his pathological fear of the "hidden hand" of the British, and to assure him that the United States and the United Kingdom would firmly support him and had both resolved that Mossadeq must go. The measures were also intended to produce such pressure on the Shah that it would be easier for him to sign the papers required of him than it would be to refuse.
On 23 June the timetable covering all the envoys to be sent to the Shah was drawn up at Headquarters. In execution all these steps went off as planned.
The initial task was to brief Princess Ashraf, who was thought to be in Paris at that time. It was planned to approach her about 10 July in Paris and have her back in Tehran to see the Shah about 20 July. [ ], still in Geneva, was to call upon her first and prepare her for the joint visit of Darbyshire for SIS and Meade for CIA. (SIS had assured Headquarters that this call could be made in Paris at any time.) Meade arrived in London by air 10 July and went at once to Paris with Darbyshire. Then an unanticipated delay occurred. Princess Ashraf was not in Paris, and it was not until the 15th that she was located on the Riviera and visited by [ ].
He reported that she had shown no enthusiasm at all with regard to her proposed role. However, the next day the "official" representatives had two meetings with here and she agreed to do everything that was asked of her. She did say that her arrival would arouse a strong reaction from the pro-Mossadeq press and hoped that we would be able to put out effective counterblasts. Meade reported in London to Roosevelt and Leavitt. He then returned to Paris and stayed close to Ashraf until her departure for Iran.*
Ashraf reached Tehran as a passenger on a commercial flight on 25 July. As expected, her unauthorized return did create a real storm. Neither the Shah, himself, nor the government of Mossadeq had been asked to permit her to return. Both were furious. The Shah refused to see her but did accept a letter passed on through the medium of [ ], ** head of the Shah's [ ], loyal and devoted in an effective way throughout this period. This letter contained news that US General Schwarzkopf was coming to see the Shah on an errand similar to that of Ashraf, herself. The Shah welcomed this news and received his sister on the evening of 29 July. The session opened stormily but ended on a note of reconciliation. On the next day she took a plane back to Europe. This was as had been planned, but it came as a relief to know that she was out of the country in view of the pro-Mossadeq press reaction.
* Meade's character study of Ashraf is in the TPAJAX file.
**SIS agent within the palace. [See identity in Section 7.]
The second emissary arrived on the scene in the person of [ ], the principal SIS agent. According to the plan, [ ] initial task with the Shah was to convince the ruler that, [ ] was the official spokesman of the UK Government. The advance plan, that of having the Shah select a key phrase which would then be broadcast on the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) Persian language program on certain dates, was followed. In London the necessary arrangements had been made by Darbyshire to send the phrase over the BBC. On 30 July and again on the 31st the Shah saw, [ ]. He had heard the broadcast, but he requested time to assess the situation. , [ ] was, however, able to prepare the Shah for the visit of the American emissary, General Schwarzkopf, and to stress the point that this emissary would repeat the message and, hence, give an additional guarantee of the close collaboration between the United Kingdom and the United States in this undertaking.
Schwarzkopf had been chosen by the drafters of the operational plan because of the fact that he had enjoyed the friendship and respect of the Shah in the period from 1942 until 1948 when he headed the US MIlitary Mission to the Iranian Gendarmerie. Approached on 26 June 1953 by John Waller, Chief, NEA, briefed at Headquarters on 19 July, Schwarzkopf took to his mission with relish. He said that he had a reputation with the Shah for telling him unpleasant truths that others withheld from him, and he stated that he was sure he could get the required cooperation from the Shah. Schwarzkopf was given a cover mission consisting of a short tour to Lebanon, Pakistan, and Egypt so that his visit to Tehran would appear as a brief stop en route to a principal destination. Schwarzkopf left by air for Beirut on 21 July.
Schwarzkopf's mission was to obtain from the Shah the three papers which are described more fully in the operational plan. They were: (1) a firman naming [ ] as Chief of Staff, (2) a letter indicating his faith in [ ] which the latter could employ to recruit army officers for the plan in the name of the Shah, and (3) a firman calling on all ranks of the army to support his legal Chief of Staff. It was felt that it would be easier to get the Shah to sign such statements than to issue a firman dismissing Mossadeq. It was also believed that the action of replacing Mossadeq would be initiated through the Majlis.
Certain events of 21 July at Tehran both shocked and aroused from thier attitude of complacency the more conservative elements which had firmly supported Mossadeq. Demonstrations marked the anniversary of rioting against the government of Qavam and of efforts made at that time, two years earlier, to settle the oil issue. However, it was obvious to all that the number of Tudeh participants far outnumbered those assembled by the National Front, and it was this fact more than anything else which alerted the thinking public to the strength acquired by the Tudeh under the Mossadeq government. At this time station personnel were active on several fronts. The propaganda campaign against Mossadeq was now gaining momentum. [ ] owner of [ ] was granted a personal loan of some $45,000 on signed notes in the belief that this would make his organ amenable to our purposes. Headquarters-prepared propaganda material was turned over by the station to, [ ] ,and by the end of the month an entirely separate and especially planned campaign in favor of the Shah as opposed to Mossadeq was under way in Azerbaijan. The parallel and alternative plan of keeping in close touch with the [ ] [ ] combination for the purposes of diverting their attention from TPAJAX and of discovering the plans and strength of this group remained in effect. Talks with the [ ] continued. At one point the station suggested sending one of the brothers to this country, and Headquarters made an immediate investigation of the mechanics required for making such a trip. The SIS was informed of these talks, and they suggested that their facilities might be used to stir up tribal revolts in the homeland of the Qashqa'i.
The station was now in direct contact with [ ], who had left his sanctuary in the Majlis on 21 July. After several meetings Station Chief Goiran and Station Chief Designate Goodwin reported that [ ] appeared lacking in drive, energy, and concrete plans. They concluded that he must be closely guided and that the necessary plans must be made for him.
By 26 July a number of key individuals had moved into position: Roosevelt and Schwarzkopf were at Tehran, Leavitt had been at Nicosia for several days, and Ambassador Henderson had come to rest at Salzburg, where he was to remain, anxious but cooperative, for the next two weeks. At Nicosia, Leavitt did a most capable job of reassuring SIS officials who frequently felt that they were not receiving enough current information. Concomitantly, these SIS officials passed on valuable suggestions coming from London, such as detailed plans for putting the central telephone exchange out of operation.
With Roosevelt's arrival in Tehran the situation was restudied. As a part of the war of nerves against Mossadeq, it was considered advisable to cut down close contacts be tween high-ranking US officials and officials of Mossadeq's government. Technical Cooperation in Iran (TCI) Director William E. Warner was requested to reduce his normal government contacts, and General Frank McClure, Chief of the US Military Mission in Iran, was requested to appear less friendly with those general officers who were firmly supporting Mossadeq. At this stage it was decided to alter the nature and number of documents which would have to be signed by the Shah. These documents would be limited to one firman naming [ ] as Chief of Staff and one letter denouncing the government-staged referendum on the question of the dissolution of the Majlis as an illegal proceeding.
As the month of July ended, station personnel in charge of the propaganda campaign reported on the effective anti [ ]. It was stated that very effective use had been made of the 28 July statement by Secretary of State Dulles* (made at CIA's suggestion). A request was made that US papers reflect the Iranian press campaign against Mossadeq and that inspired articles be placed in the US press.
On 1 August, two days after Princess Ashraf had left Iran and the Shah had heard the BBC message* designed to convince him that [ ] was the official spokesman of the UK Government, Schwarzkopf had an extended meeting with the Shah. Fearful of planted microphones, the Shah led the General into a grand ballroom, pulled a small table to its exact center, and then both sat on the table. The Shah rejected the proposal that he sign the required documents at once, asserting that he was not fully confident of the loyalty of the army; that he must give advance approval for all members of a new cabinet; and that he must have time to make his own estimate as to the probable success or failure of the undertaking. On the other hand, he said that should Mossadeq carry through his referendum and dissolve the Majlis then he, himself, would have full powers under the constitution to dismiss Mossadeq and replace him by a prime minister of his own choice. This meeting was to be followed by a series of additional ones, some between Roosevelt and the Shah and some between [ ] and the Shah, in which relentless pressure was exerted in frustrating attempts to overcome an entrenched attitude of vacillation and indecision.
*This statement, made at a press conference, was as follows: "The growing activities of the illegal Communist Party in Iran and the toleration of them by the Iranian Government has caused our government concern. These developments make it more difficult to grant aid to Iran." On 2 August Roger Goiran, for so long the experienced and valuable chief of station, left Tehran headed for Headquarters duty. While his knowledge had been of inestimable value in the preparatory stages of TPAJAX, it was judged that his departure at just this time would be an important factor in the war of nerves against Mossadeq, and in the planned efforts to confuse and disturb the potential opposition. By this time the Counselor, Gordon Henry Mattison, and the ranking political officer, Mr. Roy Malcolm Melbourne, had been briefed on TPAJAX and were discreetly helpful. Mattison, in interviews with [ ] [ ], followed station direction in a successful effort to divert attention of the [ ] group from the real purpose of TPAJAX.
During this period Mossadeq, as always, had been on the alert to try to hold the initiative and keep his growing opposition off balance. His attention turned toward the Majlis, where opposition appeared to be hardening. On 14 July he directed the deputies supporting the government to resign. Several of the neutral or timidly anti-Mossadeq deputies followed suit until a total of 28 had resigned.
Headquarters urged that the anti-Mossadeq deputies be given every encouragement to keep their posts and to take up bast (political sanctuary) in the Majlis. The theme to be built up was that those who had not resigned from the Majlis would constitute the legitimate parliamentary body. This stand was at least partially responsible for Mossadeq's growing belief that the body must be dissolved. Such action would leave him as the undisputed dictator of the country since his full-powers bill had several months more to run. However, he still had to get around the provision of the constitution that only the Shah had the authority to dissolve the Majlis. He did this by staging a national referendum in which the people were to state "yes" or "no" to the question as to whether the Majlis should be dissolved. The referendum was a clear and palpable fake. Held throughout the country beginning 4 August, some two million were said to have voted for dissolution and only a few hundred against. As a maneuver the action was not as satisfactory as Mossadeq anticipated since it clearly revealed abuse of the constitution. This provided an issue on which Mossadeq could be relentlessly attacked by the CIA/SIS subsidized opposition press. The action also did much to alarm the more stable and established elements of the populace, who were nationalists along with everyone else, but who did not favor such a fraudulent breach of the constitution.
During the days of the referendum the station reported in detail on the multiple efforts of station agents to exploit the illegality of this referendum, both before and during the event. Also every declaration made by a religious leader in these days stressed this point. The station indicated that some 20 local newspapers were now in violent opposition to Mossadeq and that some 15 Headquarters- prepared anti-Mossadeq cartoons had appeared in these papers during the referendum week. On 4 August word reached the station that Mossadeq was aware of the true purpose of the visit of Ashraf, and the personnel on the scene felt strongly that action must be mounted very soon. On 4 August Ambassador Henderson per schedule set out from Salzburg for Tehran. He was to be met on 9 August at Beirut by Leavitt, who persuaded him to put off his return in view of the delayed but imminent date for action. In these same days, Henderson, officials of the State Department, and officials of the Foreign Office were drafting proposed statements which their governments planned to issue upon the successful conclusion of TPAJAX.
At Tehran the meetings with the Shah were continuing. On 2 August [ ] had presented His Majesty with specific details concerning the manner in which the operation would be carried out, and reported that the Shah had agreed to dismiss Mossadeq and to appoint [ ] as both Prime Minister and Deputy Commander-in-Chief. The Shah also agreed to name General [ ] as Chief of Staff. On 3 August, Roosevelt had a long and inconclusive session with the Shah. The latter stated that he was not an adventurer and, hence, could not take the chances of one.
Roosevelt pointed out that there was no other way by which the government could be changed and the test was now between Mossadeq and his force and the Shah and his army, which was still with him, but which would soon slip away. Roosevelt finally said that he would remain at hand a few days longer in expectation of an affirmative decision and then would leave the country; in the latter case the Shah should realize that failure to act could lead only to a Communist Iran or to a second Korea. he concluded by saying that his government was not prepared to accept these possibilities and that some other plan might be carried through. In a later meeting with the Shah, the latter requested Mr. Roosevelt to solicit from President Eisenhower assurances that it was advisable for the Shah to take the initiative in removing Mossadeq. Mr. Roosevelt stated that he would pass this request on to the President, but he was very confident that the latter would adopt the attitude that the Shah had already had US desires made adequately clear to him. By complete coincidence and good fortune, the President, while addressing the Governors' Convention in Seattle on 4 August, deviated from his script to state by implication that the United States would not sit idly by and see Iran fall behind the Iron Curtain.
Mr. Roosevelt used the President's statements to good effect, by telling the Shah that Eisenhower did indeed feel further assurances of US attitude toward Mossadeq were unnecessary but that his reference to Iran in the Governors' Convention speech was made to satisfy the Shah. In the end the Shah said he would again discuss the question with [ ]. In the cable describing this meeting, Roosevelt stated his belief that it was hopeless to attempt to proceed without the Shah, and that it must be decided whether to exert ultimate pressure for the next two or three days or to accept a delay of up to ten days in which the Shah might finally be won over. On 7 August [ ] met again with the Shah who agreeed that action should be taken on the night of either the 10th or 11th. On 8 August Roosevelt again saw the Shah and struggled against a mood of stubborn irresolution which broke down to the extent that the Shah agreed to give oral encouragement to selected army officers who would participate in the action. Then, he said, he would go to Ramsar* and let the army act with out his official knowledge, adding that if the action was successful he would name [ ] as Prime Minister. On 9 August [ ] took over the struggle in his turn and reported that the Shah would leave for Ramsar on the 12th, and that prior to his departure he would see [ ] and key officers and express orally his choice of [ ] as the new head of the government.
On 10 August Colonel [ ] saw the Shah and informed him of the names of the army officers who were ready to take action upon receipt of an order from the Shah. The Shah again asserted that while he approved of the plan for action he would sign no papers. [ ] registered a protest at this decision, and the Shah again sent for [ ] to discuss this all important point. [ ] carried a message from Roosevelt to the effect that the latter would leave in complete disgust unless the Shah took action within a few days. At the conclusion of the audience the Shah stated that he would sign the papers, would see [ ], and then would leave for Ramsar* on the Caspian. The next day he did see [ ] and did leave for Ramsar, but the papers, contrary to the promise of the [ ] were not ready for the signature of the Shah. The Shah thus promised to sign the papers as soon as they were sent to him at Ramsar.
*Royal resort on the Caspian Sea, north of Tehran.
After discussion between Roosevelt and [ ] , they reverted to a decision closer to the original London draft of TPAJAX, deciding that there should be two firmans, one dismissing Mossadeq and one naming [ ] as Prime Minister. [ ] and [ ], the Shah's [ ] [ ] and an established UK agent, prepared the documents, and on the evening of 12 August [ ], [ ] took them by plane to Ramsar.
At this time the psychological campaign against Mossadeq was reaching its climax. The controllable press was going all out against Mossadeq, while [ ] [ ] under station direction was printing material which the station considered to be helpful. CIA agents gave serious attention to alarming the religious leaders at Tehran by issuing black propaganda in the name of the Tudeh Party, threatening these leaders with savage punishment if they opposed Mossadeq. Threatening phone calls were made to some of them, in the name of the Tudeh, and one of several planned sham bombings of the houses of these leaders was carried out.
The word that the Shah would support direct action in his behalf spread rapidly through the "Colonels' conspiracy" fostered by the station. [ ] saw station principal agent, Colonel [ ], and named him as liaison officer with the Americans and as his choice to supervise the staff planning for the action. Then [ ] took General [ ] and Colonel [ ] to see [ ]. CIA officer Carroll maintained close contact with [ ] and members of the "Colonels' conspiracy," and on 13 August was present at the final meeting of those individuals to whom would fall the responsibility of carrying out the operational staff plan. However, this meeting was the last one in which the station was represented, and the fact that contact was broken proved to have serious results.
Late on the evening of 13 August, Colonel [ ] returned to Tehran with the firmans signed by the Shah and delivered them to [ ]; according to his story (which has never been confirmed), it was Queen Soraya who finally convinced the Shah that he must sign. If this is true, here was an ally from a totally unexpected quarter.
On 14 August the station cabled that upon the conclusion of TPAJAX the [ ] government, in view of the empty treasury of the country, would be in urgent need of funds. The sum of $5,000,000 was suggested, and CIA was asked to produce this amount almost within hours after the conclusion of the operation. No more news came in from Tehran on the 14th, and there was nothing that either the station or Headquarters could do except wait for action to begin.