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Argo: How the CIA & Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio J. MendezThe true account of the 1979 rescue of six American hostages from Iran
On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and held dozens of Americans hostage, sparking a 444-day ordeal and a quake in global politics that still reverberates today. Beaneath this crisis another shocking story was known by only a select few: six Americans escaped the embassy and hid within a city roiling with suspicion and fear. A top-level CIA officer named Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them before they were detected. Disguising himself as a Hollywood producer, and supported by a cast of expert forgers, deep-cover CIA operatives, foreign agents, and Hollywood special-effects artists, Mendez traveled to Tehran under the guise of scouting locations for a fake science fiction film called Argo. While pretending to find the ideal film backdrops, Mendez and a colleague succeeded in contacting the escapees and eventually smuggled them out of Iran.
After more than three decades, Antonio Mendez finally details the extraordinarily complex and dangerous operation he led. A riveting story of secret identities, international intrigue, and good old-fashioned American ingenuity, Argo is the pulse-pounding account of the history-making collusion between Hollywood and high-stakes espionage.
Canada to the Rescue
The backdrop of the tale is the storming of the U. Embassy in Tehran by Islamic militants who captured 52 American diplomatic personnel and held them hostage for days. However, the core story of "Argo" focuses on the six American diplomats who escaped the initial takeover and found refuge in -- and eventual rescue from -- the Canadian Embassy in Iran. Lead actor and director, Affleck, who studied Middle Eastern Affairs in college, said he "knew the backstory, I knew the politics, I knew that I wasn't going to step on any landmines in that regard. Many Canadians, including former Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, who housed two of the six escapees and who was a central coordinator in the ex-filtration of the six Americans, took issue with the film, which portrayed the Canadians as a minor player in the daring escape. That bit of "Argo's" oversight is well known to Les Harris, a former W5 producer who quit his job to direct not only a s documentary on this tale, but a movie of the week Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper as well. According to Harris, " Argo was a fantastic film.
It had none of the lightning-flash finesse of Entebbe, none of the bloody ferocity of Mayaguez. Yet once again, however fleetingly, the frustration of dealing with the irrational acts of militants had been lifted by a single daring and dramatic deed. With a spontaneous gush of gratitude, Americans extended congratulatory hands across the border. It was as though the U. Where other allies had nervously shunned sanctions and offered only rhetoric against Iran, Canada had literally come to the rescue. On an official level, the U. Back in the U.
The True Story Behind Operation “Argo” to Rescue Americans From Iran As they hid out in the homes of two Canadian diplomats, the Secret Six That is, until the CIA appeared with a plan even crazier than We were going to walk them out through Tehran airport and right onto a commercial plane.
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The " Canadian Caper " was the joint covert rescue by the Canadian government and the CIA of six American diplomats who had evaded capture during the seizure of the United States embassy in Tehran, Iran , on November 4, , after the Iranian Revolution , when Islamist students took most of the American embassy personnel hostage, demanding the return of the US-backed Shah for trial. After the diplomats had been sheltered by the British mission and Canadian diplomatic personnel, the Canadian and United States governments worked on a strategy to gain their escape through subterfuge and use of Canadian passports. The "caper" involved CIA agents Tony Mendez and his colleague known as "Julio" for this event joining the six diplomats in Tehran to form a fake film crew.
I was there when Iranians took over the American Embassy in Tehran, and it is not quite how I remember them either. Argo is terrific entertainment, but it tells only a part of our story, and says nothing at all about many of the real heroes—most Canadian—who helped rescue us. The operation consisted of four distinct phases. Three were almost entirely Canadian, and only one involved significant U. For those not of a certain age, a brief summary is a good starting point. Two weeks earlier, then-president Jimmy Carter decided to admit the former shah of Iran to the U.
Few CIA counterterrorist successes have ever been made public. Described here is one of them, a classic case of deception in which CIA technical specialists created a dummy movie-production company in Hollywood and delivered disguises and documents that made possible the escape of six US diplomats from capture in Iran in Avoiding capture that day were six US State Department employees who took refuge in the homes of Canadian Embassy officers. The US Government developed several major operations to address this national crisis. The exfiltration task was daunting—the six Americans had no intelligence background; planning required extensive coordination within the US and Canadian governments; and failure not only threatened the safety of the hostages but also posed considerable risk of worldwide embarrassment to the US and Canada. After careful consideration of numerous options, the chosen plan began to take shape. Canadian Parliament agreed to grant Canadian passports to the six Americans.