March 14, 1954

Mossadegh's Aide Seized in Teheran


TEHERAN, Iran, March 13--Hossein Fatemi, the firebrand Foreign Minister of the Mossadegh regime, was captured by the police today after a protracted search.

They announced later that Fatemi, who was disguised by a heavy black beard, had been stabbed and beaten.

After the attack he was taken to a hospital, a police source said, where his wounds were reported to be severe but not dangerous.

Fatemi, a fugitive since the August, 1953, revolution that overthrew Premier Mohammed Mossadegh, was caught in his hide-out in a Teheran suburb early today. He faced a possible death penalty because he is alleged to have stirred up mobs against Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi in an effort to overthrow the monarchy before the Mossadegh regime itself was upset.

Fatemi was taken to the headquarters of the Military Governor of Teheran. The police said he was being transferred to a police prison when a bystander suddenly fell upon him with a knife. No arrests were reported immediately. A police source said Fatemi had suffered two stab wounds in his right side.

The fiery nationalist, who was prominent in the campaign to seize Iran's vast oil holdings from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and drive the British out of the country, once was reported torn to pieces by the street mobs that overthrew Dr. Mossadegh Aug. 19.

Fatemi, who is 36 years old, had moved around Iran since then, disguised at first as a woman in a shroud and veil. Three months ago he began to grow his beard. It was he, clad in pajamas and a violet dressing gown, who came to the door and was arrested without a shot.

Maj. Ali Akhbar Molevi, attached to the staff of the Military Governor, made the arrest on a tip from a police captain who had picked up Fatemi's trail.

While Fatemi was being questioned, Shaban Jafari, former wrestler, now leader of a fanatic anti-Communist, pro-Shah band, demanded that Fatemi be turned over to him.

"In the name of Allah hand this man to me so that I can break him into little pieces!" the gigantic Jafari cried. "Long live the Shah! Down with Mossadegh and his followers!"

Three soldiers, bayonets leveled, prevented him from entering the corridor where Fatemi was held. The wrestler strode out.

During the last three days of the power Fatemi wielded, along with the weeping, fainting Premier Mossadegh, he had bitterly denounced the Shah in speeches and in his newspaper. He called the sovereign a traitor.

Says Health Is Ruined

Fatemi, who said his health was ruined, repudiated his attacks on the Shah. He had been under medical treatment in Germany last summer from the after-effects of a shot in the stomach fired by a teen-age fanatic two years ago. He had returned to Iran just about a week before the revolution that toppled the Mossadegh regime.

After his arrest, a nephew, Sayid Fatemi, who was the editor of the newspaper, Bakhtar-Emruz, surrendered. He told the police he had been the first to start sawing the legs of a statute of the Shah in Majlis Square, just before the August uprising.

Fatemi's speeches and editorials attacking the Shah, plus the razing of the Shah's statues, were credited with having set off the bloody revolt. The Shah's supporters eventually regained power, however, and he flew back from a brief self-exile in Rome. Dr. Mossadegh ended with a three-year term in solitary confinement.

Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, whom the Shah named Premier, always said he thought Fatemi was in hiding inside Iran.