Teymur Bakhtiar

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Teymur Bakhtiar (Persian : تیمور بختیار; 1914 – 12 August 1970) was an Iranian general and the founder and head of SAVAK from 1956 to 1961, when he was dismissed by the Shah. In 1970, SAVAK agents assassinated him in Iraq.

Persian language Western Iranian language

Persian, also known by its endonym Farsi, is a Western Iranian language belonging to the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian subdivision of the Indo-European languages. It is a pluricentric language predominantly spoken and used officially within Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan in three mutually intelligible standard varieties, namely Iranian Persian, Dari Persian and Tajik Persian. It is also spoken natively in the Tajik variety by a significant population within Uzbekistan, as well as within other regions with a Persianate history in the cultural sphere of Greater Iran. It is written officially within Iran and Afghanistan in the Persian alphabet, a derivation of the Arabic script, and within Tajikistan in the Tajik alphabet, a derivation of Cyrillic.


SAVAK was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service in Iran during the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty. It was established by Mohammad Reza Shah with the help of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli MOSSAD. SAVAK operated from 1957 until the Iranian Revolution of 1979, when the prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar ordered its dissolution during the outbreak of Iranian Revolution. SAVAK has been described as Iran's "most hated and feared institution" prior to the revolution of 1979 because of its practice of torturing and executing opponents of the Pahlavi regime. At its peak, the organization had as many as 60,000 agents serving in its ranks according to one source, and another source by Gholam Reza Afkhami estimates SAVAK staffing at between 4,000 and 6,000.

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Early life

Bakhtiar was born in 1914 to Sardar Moazzam Bakhtiari, a chieftain of the eminent Bakhtiari tribe. He studied at a French school in Beirut (many Iranians were Francophiles at the time: e. g. Amir Abbas Hoveyda and General Hassan Pakravan) from 1928 to 1933, whereupon he was accepted to the renowned Saint-Cyr military academy. [1] After returning to Iran, he graduated from Tehran's Military Academy. [1] His cousin, Shapour Bakhtiar, and he went together to both Beirut and Paris for higher education. [1]

Bakhtiari people ancient southwestern Iranian tribe

The Bakhtiari are a southwestern Iranian tribe, and a subgroup of the Lurs. They speak the Bakhtiari dialect, a southwestern Iranian dialect, belonging to the Lurish language.

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Then he was made a first lieutenant and dispatched to Zahedan. Bakhtiar's first wife was Iran Khanom, the daughter of the powerful Bakhtiari chieftain Sardar-e Zafar. At that time, the Bakhtiaris were extremely influential; Muhammad Reza Shah's second wife, Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari, and the Shah's last prime minister, Shapour Bakhtiar, were both related to Teymour Bakhtiar.

Zahedan City in Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran

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Shapour Bakhtiar Iranian politician

Shapour Bakhtiar was an Iranian politician who served as the last Prime Minister of Iran under the Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. He and his secretary were murdered in his home in Suresnes, near Paris by agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran.


Bakhtiar rose rapidly in Iran's military after the fall of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953. A close associate of Prime Minister Fazlollah Zahedi, he was promoted to military governor of Tehran. [2] One of his first major successes was the capture and trial of Mossadeq's minister of foreign affairs, Hossein Fatemi, who had actively fought the military government that succeeded Mossadegh's period in office.

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Bakhtiar waged an extensive campaign against the communist Tudeh party; he arrested and had 24 Tudeh leaders summarily tried and executed, including Khalil Tahmasebi, the assassin of former Prime Minister Ali Razmara. For these accomplishments, he was appointed modern Iran's youngest three-star general in 1954. Bakhtiar was made head of the newly formed intelligence and security service SAVAK in February 1956. He ruthlessly crushed any opposition to the regime, including communists, Islamic fundamentalists, and any other anti-monarchists.

Khalil Tahmasebi was a carpenter and member of the Iranian fundamentalist group Fadayan-e Islam, which has been described as "the first Shiite Islamist organization to employ terrorism as a primary method of political activism." On behalf of this group, Tahmasebi assassinated the Iranian Prime Minister, Ali Razmara, on 7 March 1951. and was described as a "religious fanatic" by The New York Times. In 1952, he was freed by the Iranian Parliament during the premiership of Mosaddegh, his pending death sentence was quashed, and he was declared a "Soldier of Islam." According to Time, Tahmasebi "promptly rushed to the Hazrat Abdolazim shrine, wept joyously and said: 'When I killed Razmara, I was sure that his people would kill me.'" Following the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, Tahmasebi was re-arrested and tried for the assassination of Razmara; he was executed in 1955.


With the appointment of Ali Amini as prime minister in 1961, the Shah began to distrust Bakhtiar. Amini warned the Shah of Bakhtiar's contacts with John F. Kennedy, and Bakhtiar was dismissed in 1961. Amini was a Kennedy supporter and was dismissed in 1962 partly because of the Shah's growing distrust of Kennedy.

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Initially from his self chosen exile in Geneva, Bakhtiar retaliated by establishing contacts with Iranian dissidents in Europe, Iraq, and Lebanon, using the contacts he had built during his time at SAVAK.

He met not only Ayatollah Khomeini but also Reza Radmanesh, the General Secretary of the Tudeh Party, and Mahmud Panahian, the "War Minister" of autonomy-seeking state Azerbaijan People's Government, that had emerged briefly after the Soviet forces withdrew from Iran, following World War II. The Shah issued a warrant for Bakhtiar's arrest, but the general sought refuge in Iraq.

On 12 August 1970, during a hunting party, he was shot and killed by an Iranian Savak agent, feigning to be a sympathizer. As a cover for the plot, the assassin and a colleague had hijacked an Iranian passenger plane, forcing it to land in Baghdad. Disguised as dissidents of the Iranian government, the two assassins duped the Iraqi regime and gained access to Teymur Bakhtiar and his entourage. The truth behind these circumstances emerged only years later. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi himself has been quoted as claiming the assassination a personal success. In an Interview with the acclaimed French author and biographer, Gerard de Villiers, the Shah publicly made a statement to this effect.

After being expelled from the ranks of Tudeh party, Mahmoud Panahian, in May 1970, came to Baghdad, Iraq, by the invitation of former Iraqi government officials. Upon arrival in Baghdad, Mahmoud Panahian had very fruitful discussions with a number of Iranian dissidents, as well as Iranian opposition leaders, namely Morad Aziz Razmavar, as well as Teymur Bakhtiar. Within the next few months, Mahmoud Panahian started recruiting people, organizing anti-Shah radio broadcasts and publishing his lifetime work started in Baku, Azerbaijan: “The Geographical Dictionary of Iranian Nationalities”.

Shortly before Bakhtiar’s assassination, Mahmoud Panahian, received a personal invitation from Bakhtiar to attend the same hunting party, but respectfully declined. Gen. Bahktiar’s would be assassin was a trusted person, living on the premises of Bakhtiar mansion in Baghdad and could have had the General assassinated at a much earlier time. However, the chances for escape were slim, as Teymur Bakhtiar was a VIP guest of the Iraqi government and was both watched and protected by Iraqi bodyguards.

Bakhtiar’s murder was investigated at the highest level. There was only one assassin. Once out hunting in the field, the assassin fired a shot at him from a pistol, hitting him in the shoulder, thus making Bakhtiar drop his rifle. Immediately, Bakhtiar’s Iraqi bodyguard attempted to shoot the assassin with an AK-47, but was shot in the forehead first. The general reached for his revolver with his left hand, but was shot 5 times in the torso and left hand by the assassin. Bakhtiar was taken to a hospital and underwent surgery, but died shortly thereafter from massive internal bleeding.

The assassin quickly left the scene, heading towards the Iranian border. He passed out several kilometers before reaching the border crossing, due to the heat. He was captured by Iraqi border patrol and taken to Baghdad alive. His fate remains unknown. It is also not known where he obtained his small arms training as well as the pistol used.

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  1. 1 2 3 "Bakhtiar, Teymour". Bakhtiari Family. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  2. "Former foreign executed by firing squad". Ocala Star-Banner. Tehran. UPI. 10 November 1954. Retrieved 25 July 2013.


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