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Scholar of Iran Hostage Crisis Puts ‘Argo’ in Historical Context

Professor Mohsen Milani, an expert on Iran, explains how some misguided radical Islamists terminated Iran's strategic alliance with the United States and hijacked the revolution.
Director of the movie and cast member Ben Affleck poses at the premiere of "Argo" at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California October 4, 2012. The movie opens in the U.S. on October 12.   REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT)

Thirty-three years ago on Nov. 4, a group of misguided radical Islamists stormed and occupied the American Embassy in Tehran, took its personnel hostage and terminated Iran's strategic alliance with the United States.

In the US, this illegal and brazen act of defiance left an indelibly negative perception of Iran. During the 444-day ordeal, Americans were traumatized watching their flag burned by hysterical mobs shouting "Death to America" and their diplomats blindfolded and humiliatingly paraded in front of the world. They heard about the inhuman mock execution of the hostages, and were incensed that the hostages would be placed on trial in the revolutionary courts infamous for executing the accused first and justifying their actions later. They mourned the death of eight American servicemen in Operation Eagle Claw on April 24, 1980, a daring rescue operation that was aborted in a sandstorm inside Iran before it could reach its target.

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