When a group of Iranian students from an organization called “Muslim Student Followers of the Imam’s Line,” on their own volition though possibly with the approval of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, stormed the American embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, and took 66 US citizens hostage, I doubt anybody involved fully realized what was about to ensue. Thirteen of those hostages would be released within three weeks, and another in July 1980 after he’d fallen quite ill, but 52 hostages remained in the custody of those students-militants-hostage takers for 444 days, only being freed in January 1981. You can’t make a lot of sweeping pronouncements about the importance of any particular event after only a few decades, not in a general world historical sense. But this is an event that shaped the course of the Iranian revolution, impacted a US presidential race, helped cause a major Middle Eastern war, and is one of the key factors that have influenced US-Iran relations over those 36 years.
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