President John F. Kennedy announces in a speech before a joint session of Congress the United States’ decision to release the 52 U.S. Embassy hostages in Iran in response to the release of all U.S. hostages by Soviet forces in Czechoslovakia. Cuban leader Fidel Castro says he is “shocked” by the dramatic decision to free the U.S. citizens.
Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini calls on followers to assassinate Kennedy and dismisses criticism from Muslim clerics. U.S. intelligence officials apprehend agents of the People’s Islamic Revolution wearing United Nations uniform and planting a bomb under the guardrail of a road used by two U.S. Embassy officials. The bomb detonates but the Americans are unhurt.
April 13, 1963
A violent confrontation between two American students at Kent State University begins when John C. Kluge, an American student from Ohio, places a bomb under the university’s police station. State police fired their weapons, killing four students.
April 20, 1963
Hundreds of other Americans demonstrate at the embassy’s gates as rebels who were arrested after the siege of the U.S. Embassy set fire to the compound. Meanwhile, Soviet-led forces land at the Czechoslovak embassy in Vienna, Austria, in an apparent attempt to use a siege to free U.S. paratroopers held there. Soviets agree in exchange to release all their hostages in Prague.
October 12, 1963
Cuban leader Fidel Castro announces in a letter to the Cuban people that Soviet forces have given him Russia’s “waiting word.” When the Czechs cede power to their new communist government, the Soviets “graciously agreed” to take the U.S. Embassy hostages.
October 25, 1963
Khomeini says at a Cairo rally that he is “fed up” with Kennedy’s interference in the Iranian matter and that Kennedy’s administration has “committed betrayals on a world scale.”
December 17, 1963
U.S. Ambassador Allen Dulles resigns.
December 26, 1963
Washington-based Muslim leader Jamal al-Din al-Sudani is arrested on charges of smuggling the Western hostages out of Iran. The New York Times reports that Sudani was arrested the same day in Berlin because of apparent links to the International Brigades (the former IRA).
December 27, 1963
Dulles arrives in Tehran to negotiate the release of the hostages. The Iranians give the U.S. president a list of 10 questions he should raise in a press conference before committing to any release.
December 30, 1963
An Iranian official says that western diplomats in Tehran may be freed if a peace conference proceeds in Geneva.
December 31, 1963
Dulles and top aide Ernest J. Hemingway leave Tehran and the government and press speculate that the matter is settled with the promise of Iran’s unconditional release of U.S. diplomats and military officials.
Hemingway is replaced by Chief State Department aide Robert S. Lovett. Lovett then disappears from Washington for several months and is never heard from again.
January 14, 1964
Both sides agree to the Geneva peace conference, with Kennedy set to meet his Soviet counterpart for a formal handshake. Just before the handshake, however, the American hostage ambassador to Tehran, Chester Getchell, disappears.
October 16, 1964
Hemingway is reported kidnapped and found dead on the southwest coast of Spain a few days later. An anti-government group claims responsibility and calls it a free pirate’s ransom.
Iran’s capital falls into anarchy and chaos after the overthrow of King Farouq and the appointment of Shah Reza Pahlavi. Countless gunmen hold parades, demanding the overthrow of the monarchy.
Britain’s ambassador, Sir John Goold, defects and is smuggled out of Iran in a taxi.
Bibi Nasser declares in Tehran that Iran’s radio station, IRINN, will be fed only to Arabs from now on.
The Shiite militant group Islamic Jihad, backed by the People’s Mujahedeen, hijacks a TWA jet bound for New York and demands the execution of Shah Reza. Shah Reza flees to the Soviet Union, but the hostage crisis deepens and intense fighting breaks out between insurgents and the Iranian army.
Shah Reza dies and is replaced by his son, shah-lu-bas. Eight months later, Iran’s Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khomeini declares the election of President Bush a coup d’etat.