Operation Nimrod | Indian History | PDF Download


  • The Iranian Embassy siege took place from 30 April to 5 May 1980, after a group of six armed men stormed the Iranian embassy in South Kensington, London.
  • The gunmen, members of Arabs of KSA group campaigning for Arab national sovereignty in the southern Iranian region of Khuzestan Province, took 26 people hostage.
  • Margaret Thatcher’s government quickly resolved that safe passage would not be granted, and a siege ensued.


  • The hostage-takers were members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA), Iranian Arabs protesting for the establishment of an autonomous Arab state in the southern region of the Iranian province of Khūzestān.
  • The plan was inspired by the Iran hostage crisis in which supporters of the revolution held the staff of the American embassy in Tehran hostage.


  • Using Iraqi passports, Oan and three other members of the DRFLA arrived in London on 31 March 1980 and rented a flat in Earl’s Court.
  • Oan was 27 and from Khūzestān; he had studied at the University of Tehran, where he became politically active.
  • On 30 April the men informed their landlord that they were going to Bristol for a week and then returning to Iraq.Shortly before 11:30 the six men arrived outside the embassy.


  • At approximately 11:30 on Wednesday 30 April the six heavily armed members of DRFLA stormed the Iranian Embassy building on Princes Gate, South Kensington. • Although the majority of the people in the embassy were captured, three managed to escape; two by climbing out of a ground-floor window and the third by climbing across a first-floor • The majority of the hostages were embassy staff, predominantly Iranian nationals, but several British employees were also captured.


  • Police arrived at the embassy almost immediately after the first reports of gunfire, and, within ten minutes, seven DPG officers were on the scene. • Police negotiators made contact with Oan via a field telephone passed through one of the embassy windows, and were assisted by a negotiator and a psychiatrist.
  • At 15:15 Oan issued the DRFLA’s first demand, the release of 91 Arabs held in prisons in Khūzestān, and threatened to blow up the embassy and the hostages if this were not done by noon on 1 May.


  • Early in the morning of 1 May, the gunmen ordered one of the hostages to telephone the BBC’s news desk.
  • During the call, Oan took the receiver and spoke directly to the BBC journalist. He identified the group to which the gunmen belonged and stated that the non-Iranian hostages would not be harmed, but refused to allow the journalist to speak to any other hostages.
  • As the deadline of noon approached, set the previous day for the release of the Arab prisoners, the police became convinced that the gunmen did not have the capability to carry out their threat of blowing up the embassy, and persuaded Oan to agree to a new deadline of 14:00.


  • Day four: 3 May. Oan, angered by the BBC’s incorrect reporting of his demands the previous evening, contacted the police negotiators shortly after 06:00 and accused the authorities of deceiving him.
  • Day five: 4 May. During the day, the Foreign Office held further talks with diplomats from Arabian countries in the hope of persuading them to go to the embassy and talk to the hostage-takers.


  •  The two SAS teams on-scene, Red Team and Blue Team, were ordered to begin their simultaneous assaults, under the codename Operation Nimrod, at 19:23.
  • Soldiers were unable to use explosives for fear of injuring their stranded staff sergeant, but managed to smash their way into the embassy.
  • The raid lasted seventeen minutes and involved 30 to 35 soldiers. The terrorists killed one hostage and seriously wounded two others during the raid while the SAS killed all but one of the terrorists

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