Iran, America and Shaban the Brainless

Like ships in the night: the relationship between Iran and America is a podcast from ABC Radio National.

Ever wonder why Iran loves America? Try listening to the podcast above.

One reason is Operation Ajax, Kermit Roosevelt and Shaban the Brainless.

"Kermit Roosevelt crossed over clandestinely into Iran at the beginning of August 1953. He went to work in a basement office in the US embassy and immediately began building a network of people, basically by bribing them. One of the early plots that he came up with was he would try to bribe enough members of parliament so that maybe they could vote in a no confidence motion to depose Mosaddegh.

And a number of them accepted these bribes and they broke away from the Mosaddegh coalition, but the idea of deposing Mosaddegh through a vote of no confidence never panned out. So Kermit Roosevelt went off and did other things with his money. For example, he bribed mullahs, the religious leaders in Iran, to begin denouncing Mosaddegh from the pulpit as an atheist or nonbeliever, which was not true, as Mosaddegh was a devout Twelver Shi’ite.

One of the things that he did, he went to the Tehran bazaar, where there was a group of thugs operating under a very colourful leader named Shaban the Brainless. And he hired Shaban, who actually is still alive and living in California, and Shaban’s job was: get together the biggest group of thugs and gangsters you can find, and what your job is—and this is exactly what this gang did for several days in Tehran—run through the streets wildly, smash shop windows, fire guns into mosques and then shout, ‘We love Communism and Mosaddegh.’

But that wasn’t all. Roosevelt went one step further. He hired another mob to attack that mob, the idea being he wanted to create the image in the minds of ordinary Iranians that Iran was in chaos, that Mosaddegh had completely lost control of the streets.

With what would seem by American standards a very modest expenditure of money, Kermit Roosevelt was able to throw Iran into complete upheaval in a matter of about three weeks. It was truly a remarkable covert operation."

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