Kermit Roosevelt Jr, grandson of the 26th President of the US, Theodore Roosevelt. KR Jr also happened to be an undercover operative of the CIA and his mission – The rape of Iran
Just before dawn on the 19th of June, 1953, a slightly built white male in his late 30s, travelling on foot, slipped into Iranian territory through an unguarded border crossing, north of Penjwin in Iraq. It was exactly a fortnight since the man had lifted off the deck of the USS Forrestal and been taken on that scary terrain-hugging 50km ride into the desert on a CH-47 Chinook.
Since the drop, over the past fortnight, the desert sun had turned him ruddy, like many of the Kurdish locals there. And in order not to raise any undue alarm, he had grown a beard and was dressed traditionally, in the local garb consisting of a simple pirahan salwar and jameh with a kamarband.
On the other side, a Land Rover had been idling, wisps of exhaust trailing from its mufflers. There were four similarly attired locals inside the SUV. Seeing the tall white man approach, it now lurched into life, spun it’s all-terrain tires in the dust and surged forward to meet him as he walked across unhurriedly. When the SUV drew up, he crouched and peered inside. In the dark his eyes could make out only the driver clearly, a swarthy man with a mirthless sneer and a lit Bahman hanging from his lips. A 9mm Luger rested on his thigh inches away from his calloused hand. The three others sat well back in the shadows and the only thing he noticed was that they were all well built, well armed and absolutely still.
The white man didn’t bother with identity checks. Torn halves of bills and code words were pointless in this setting. If they weren’t who they were supposed to be, the Luger would have spoken by now, it’s language universal, one he’d heard multiple times in his colorful career. But he wasn’t afraid. He was never afraid. However, once in a while, he did get into a situation that concerned him and looked as if it was the end of the road. Those moments brought out in his face, a grin that set his features ablaze. The tall white man lived by the adage, “If you practice 10,000 different ways to throw a kick, once each, you will not be feared. But if you practice just one kick 10,000 times, your attackers will fear you.”
“Salaam, shomo khubee?” (Hello, how are you?) The infiltrator had been taught a smattering of Farsi greetings at Langley a month ago. His face broke into that grin when his eyes fell on the Luger.
“Ajaley kon, peydar saikh,” (Move your ass, m—– f—er) was the terse reply, the last two words spat out. The Land Rover started speeding up even before the white man had rested his butt on the front seat. He was now officially in the hands of a local group of smugglers and thugs, recruited by his employers. He closed his eyes and settled back for the long drive to Tehran. As the cloud of dust and sand, kicked up by the 16-ply tires of the Land Rover, settled back on the desert floor, the eastern horizon was already beginning to lighten.
Operation Ajax was rolling.
In the capital city, the man was dropped off at an apartment building rented through front companies, by the British MI6. While he settled in, the man introduced himself as an independent businessman, diversifying into the large-scale import into Europe, of pistas. Within a week, he began the process of mingling, visiting ex-pats, diplomats and prominent locals.
Before I continue telling you the story of Operation Ajax, let me give you a brief historical background here.
The above infiltration into Iran was the result of a call for help from the British government. Iran’s first and only democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh, had nationalized it’s oil industry, leaving in the lurch, the British-led oil consortium, AIOC, which had been funneling 84% of the revenue generated from the extraction of oil, out of the country. Thus, AIOC was spiriting away billions in oil revenue, while leaving behind, loose change that looked more like a small tip for services, for the Iranians.
Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, ramrod straight nationalist leader, wanted to renegotiate the contract with the black-suited looters from the ‘developed world’ and thereby ensure that the Iranian people benefited from the oil sales. But these were not romantic old buccaneers that Mossadegh was dealing with. They didn’t ride on Jolly Rogers. They had carrier battle groups with 56000ton aircraft carriers launching F86 Sabres, ready to annihilate. Unfortunately for Mossadegh, he never saw them coming, never knew what hit him.
Hang on, let’s go back a little further.
First, let’s name names. Names that the protagonists would have had no difficulty living up to. We’ll call the Shah of Iran, who was kicked out by Ayatolla Khomeini in 1979, Wimpy-2. His father, Reza Palhavi who was installed by the British in 1921, is hereby named Wimpy-1. Around that time, when the first gush of oil spurted a hundred feet into the air above the Burmah Oil Company’s exploration rig, Wimpy-1 had signed an agreement with BOC that gave him a one-time lump sum of £20,000 and 16% of the profits from the sale of the oil. In return, the BOC got a contract signed in perpetuity, with no expiry date and complete control of all operations and distribution. Even in today’s inflation-adjusted pounds, that would be just about £20 millions. For one-fifth of the world’s oil supply, the payment amounted to .000003% of the value of the oil reserves that the Brits were set to steal from. I think that should qualify Wimpy-1 for a nickname change to Dumbell-1.
Then came the World War-II and the Brits and the Yanks had to kick Wimpy-1 out as he turned out to be a foaming-in-the-mouth Nazi. Not that they had any qualms about that. They didn’t give a shit if he was a Nazi or he wasn’t. (Remember all those goose-stepping Nazi scientists, including Wernher Von Braun, who got the red carpet coming in to the US after the war?). But the Brits and the Americans have long believed in making everything they do look good. Who do you think introduced PR as a full-fledged university degree course? The plunderers still had to give Wimpy-1 the boot as it wouldn’t look good to the outside world at that point in time.
For the six war years, Iran was pretty much divvied up between the Brits, the Yanks and the Reds, its oil supply becoming the main pillar for the victory of the allies in the eastern front and Asia. This massive contribution to the war effort by Iran has gone completely un-appreciated by the western world. The end of the war brought with it an awakening within an already highly cultured and literate population. You don’t get to have a 2500yr old history of highly intellectual thought for nothing. A strong feeling of nationalism emerged and, with it, the rising popularity of Mohammed Mossadegh, whose campaign promise was the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry.
Mossadegh made good his promise soon after he got elected to office in 1951. The nationalization alarmed the Brits who turned to the US for help, much the same way a pack of hyenas look toward the puma for support when their prey is putting up a fight. And boy, did the US pull out all the stops. A ruthless covert action, Operation Ajax, was launched to overthrow the Mossadegh government. Plausible excuses were always handy and this time, it was the threat of a takeover by the Iranian Communist Tudeh party which was said to be aligned with the Soviet Union. Honestly, it’s time the US cabinet had a Secretary of Spin.
The guy who sits next to me at work, Joe, drives a 6000cc Ford truck 56kms one way, to work every f—in’ day. He is happy with it’s consumption, 5kms per litre, on the highway. The truck is macho and Joe personifies the truck. If you ask him why he has to drive the Ford, when he could get himself a Corolla or a Civic which would take him 15kms on a litre of gas on the highway minimum, Joe will be affronted. He wants to look macho in front of like-minded neighbors.
I won’t go so far as to say that Joe’s mind-set exists in all North Americans. But it’s close to that percentage, let me tell you. The desire to look and feel macho and in control is not restricted to men over here, by the way. There are more women driving trucks than there are men driving Corollas over here. Truck, SUV and large capacity sedan sales are recession-proof in this part of the world. While GM was kneeling in front of the US government hat in hand in 2008, it’s Hummer and Cadillac Escalade sales were booming out there. So, it’s no great mystery as to why middle-eastern nations have to be cowed down, beaten to submission and bilked, why efforts at democracy by their indigenous people have got to be squished while the pillage goes on.
Now, let’s get back to that slim tall guy, the guy who slinked into Iran in the first paragraph. Our savior of democracy and free speech. I can’t wait to tell you about this piece of work. Once ensconced in the leafy Tehran suburb, Mr. Slim lost little time.
To the locals as well as the ex-patriates in Tehran, the man was a reasonably wealthy importer who introduced himself as one James Lockridge. But to the Americans and the British intelligence community in the know, he was Kermit Roosevelt Jr, grandson of the 26th President of the US, Theodore Roosevelt. KR Jr also happened to be an undercover operative of the CIA and his mission this time had been set down by none other than Allen Dulles, the CIA Director.
Backed by an inexhaustible supply of slush funds provided by two of the world’s richest nations and his progress personally monitored by no less than their individual heads of state, James Lockridge, aka Kermit Roosevelt Jr., made his first move. He set about bribing politicians in the Mossadegh government in an effort to spark a no-confidence motion.
The politician greasing didn’t produce the desired results since, instead of befriending them through painstakingly built association over time, Kermit Jr. let loose a band of gangsters who bludgeoned and threatened and tried to shove wads of money down the throats of the bent politicos.
Not to be discouraged, he then drove to the holy city of Qom, the seat of the mullahs, 150kms south of the capital. He’d heard there were a lot of bent ones among the bearded guardians of Iranian faith. And there were. He wanted them to begin blasting Mossadegh’s government during the Friday sermons. And they did. They chipped away at his faith, his morality and his integrity. This seemed to work. Repeated lies about Mossadegh from the mosques slowly began to turn public opinion against him. Encouraged by the tone taken by the mullahs, the politicians who had earlier dithered, quickly joined in.
It was day-14 and Kermit Jr. was on a roll. With the bearded mullahs and now politicians shouting themselves hoarse and getting their anti-Mossadegh message across, it was now time for the kid gloves to come off.
In a busy bazaar in Tehran, Kermit recruited a gang of thugs who went around tearing down shops, firing weapons in the air and destroying public property, screaming slogans in support of Mossadegh. Then, unbeknownst to the first band of thugs, Kermit Jr. recruited a second band of miscreants who ran around shouting slogans against the government. It was a matter of time before the two violent groups clashed. It’s reported that there were 300 deaths across the country on one night alone.
By the end of three weeks, Mossadegh’s government was on the brink. It had taken Kermit Jr. and his hastily hired gang of thugs, bent politicians and bribed mullahs just three weeks to bring to it’s knees, a democratically elected government half a world away from his home and install in it’s place, the pliable figurehead, Mohammed-Reza Shah Palhavi, a.k.a Wimpy-2, who lacked not only the mind set and world view of a real monarch but even the physical presence. The coup was a travesty of fair play and justice, the likes of which the world has rarely seen. The total expenditure in bribes, salaries to goons and logistics? $6.25 million US.
Operation Ajax was an unmitigated success.
Ousted Iranian prime minister Mohammed Mossadegh signing documents sentencing him to three years of solitary confinement for treason on baseless charges, December 1953
Mohammed Mossadegh led the National Front, a secular, nationalist party that had formed in Iran soon after World War I (1914–1918), which was primarily interested in reducing the British presence in Iran as well as implementing true liberal reform. His overall domestic popularity was based not only on his reformist and anti-imperialist posture but also on his austere, humble, and intellectual demeanor.
Afterwards, Kermit’s bosses in the ‘free world’ were a picture of prudence. Rejoicing was deliberately muted. Democracy and the need to ‘free’ the Iranian people from the terror of the Soviets were repeatedly mentioned in press releases. After Operation Ajax elevated Wimpy-2 from figurehead to puppet dictator, KR Jr.’s superiors in Washington flew in a crimson-neck Major General by the name of Norman Schwarzkopf Sr. (the Desert Storm hero’s Dad), who immediately got busy setting up for the Shah, one of the world’s most murderous secret police forces of all time, the dreaded SAVAK.
It is rumored that Schwarzkopf Sr. entered Iran around the same time an out-of-work ex-SS Haupsturmfuhrer, Alois Brunner, vacated his safe house in Damascus. He had been living there under an alias provided by Odessa, the clandestine network of ex-Nazi bigwigs, mandated with resettling fellow Nazis fleeing the law. Alois had been a loyal Nazi and had developed a passion for torture techniques while he was at the peak of his career in Concentration Camp system. He is especially remembered for his brutality when he travelled along with 5500 Jews as train commander of a prison train to the Riga death camp in Latvia. Brunner was called ‘the butcher of Riga’ by his admiring colleagues in the SS and his tenure in the SS and escape at the end of the war is believed to have been fictionalized in the character, SS-Captain Eduard Roschmann, in the thriller, The Odessa File, by Frederick Forsyth.
It is surmised that Alois Brunner slipped into Iran in much the same way as Kermit Roosevelt Jr. did, crossing over by foot from Iraq. It is not fantasy to assume that the same slush fund that greased the wheels of Operation Ajax also paid the thugs who brought Brunner in. After Alois settled in, there were numerous unconfirmed sightings of him with a well-built man in the uniform of a general officer of the US military. Whether he was recruited to get the torture cells of the Savak going, is a matter of speculation. Be that as it may, the Savak was important, since the Americans and the Brits didn’t want any more righteous nationalist voices trying to hamper the pillage of Iranian national resources.
Where is Iran now? What happens when we forcibly tamper with a nation’s history?
We now know the answer to that, don’t we?