BAḴTĪĀR, TEYMŪR, Iranian general born in 1914, the son of Sardār Moʿaẓẓam Baḵtīārī. At the age of fourteen, he was sent to Beirut where he studied at a French high school until he was nineteen. Upon graduation he was accepted at St. Cyr military academy, where he studied between 1930-35. On his return to Iran, he was sent to Zāhedān, Baluchistan, with the rank of 1st lieutenant. He was married first to Īrān Khanom the daughter of Sardār(-e) Ẓafar, a well-known Baḵtīārī chieftain. That marriage produced a daughter and a son who died in early childhood. His second wife was Qodrat Ḵānom, who bore him two sons.

During the Moṣaddeq era, Baḵtīār was the commander of several provincial garrisons including Kermānšāh on the Iran-Iraq border. The shah’s second wife, Ṯorayyā (Sorayya) Esfandīārī, was of the same tribe and cemented the bond of loyalty of the general to the royal family. His meteoric rise to power began after the fall of Moṣaddeq in August, 1953, when he was called to Tehran, promoted to brigadier general, and put in charge of Tehran’s military governorship. In that position he waged a vigorous campaign to eradicate the Tudeh (Tūda) party, the Fedāʾīān-e Eslām, and to a lesser extent remnants of the pro-Moṣaddeq National Front. In 1954, he uncovered the Tudeh military organization (Ketāb-e sīāh) and a year later he arrested Nawwāb Ṣafawī, the leader of Fedāʾīān-e Eslām. Twenty-four ringleaders of the Tudeh military organization, Nawwāb Ṣafawī, and Ḵalīl Ṭahmāsebī, the assassin of the late Premier General Ḥājī-ʿAlī Razmārā, were executed after having been convicted by a military tribunal. In February 1958, he was appointed as the first chief of SAVAK (State Security and Intelligence Organization). Four years earlier at the age of 40 he had become the youngest three-star general in recognition of his successful, anti-communist and anti-Islamic fundamentalist campaign.

In 1961, when Dr. ʿAlī Amīnī was made prime minister, he convinced the shah that the more moderate general Pākravān should replace Baḵtīār. The shah, who had become somewhat concerned about Baḵtīār’s ambitions and reported contact with President Kennedy in Washington D.C., consented. The general soon turned into a sworn enemy of the shah. First in Europe and then in Lebanon and Iraq, he contacted every known opponent of the regime. In retaliation, he was cashiered as an officer and a warrant for his arrest and extradition from Lebanon was issued. While in Iraq, he met not only Ayatollah Ḵomeynī but also Dr. Reżā Rādmaneš, the general secretary of the Tudeh party, and Maḥmūd Panāhīān, the war minister in the short-lived Āḏarbāyjān Republic of 1945-46. SAVAK was instructed by the shah to eliminate Baḵtīār at all costs. In a carefully organized plot, SAVAK agents managed to cultivate his trust. On August 12, 1970, his trusted driver, sent two years earlier from Tehran, shot him as he was lured to an area near the Iranian border ostensibly for hunting. Half a dozen Iranian agents were arrested and promptly executed for bringing an end to the life of the colorful general at the age of fifty-six.



Ketāb-e sīāh, 1954.

Records in the Documentary Center, Iran Liberation Army, Paris 1982.

G. de Villiers, L’irrésistible ascension de Moḥammad Reza Shah d’Iran, Paris, 1975.

Iranian Oral History Project, Harvard University, Cambridge, 1986.

Some of the information in this article was obtained in interviews with members of the Iran Liberation Army.

(S. Zabih)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 5, pp. 542-543