Early Life

Bakhtiar was born in 1914 to Sardar Moazzam Bakhtiari, a chieftain of the eminent Bakhtiari tribe. He studied at a French school in Beirut (many Iranians were Francophiles at the time: e. g. Amir Abbas Hoveyda and General Hassan Pakravan) from 1928 to 1933, whereupon he was accepted to the renowned Saint-Cyr military academy. When he returned to Iran, he was made a first lieutenant and dispatched to Zahedan. Bakhtiar's first wife was Iran Khanom, the daughter of the powerful Bakhtiari chieftain Sardar-e Zafar. At this time, the Bakhtiaris were extremely influential; Muhammad Reza Shah's second wife, Soraya Esfandiary Bakhtiari, and the Shah's last prime minister, Shapour Bakhtiar, were both related to Teymour Bakhtiar.

Rise to Power

Bakhtiar rose rapidly in Iran's military after the fall of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953. A close associate of Prime Minister Fazlollah Zahedi, he was promoted to military governor of Tehran. One of his first major successes was the capture and trial of Mossadeq's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Fatemi, who had actively fought the military government, succeeding Mossadegh's period in office, from underground.

Bakhtiar waged an extensive campaign against the Communist Tudeh party; he arrested and had 24 Tudeh leaders summarily tried and executed, including Khalil Tahmasebi, the assassin of former Prime Minister Ali Razmara. For these accomplishments, he was appointed modern Iran's youngest three-star general in 1954. Bakhtiar was made head of the newly-formed intelligence and security service SAVAK in February 1958. He ruthlessly crushed any opposition to the regime, including communists, Islamic fundamentalists, and any other anti-monarchists.

Fall from Power

With the appointment of Dr. Ali Amini as prime minister in 1961, the Shah began to distrust Bakhtiar. Amini warned the Shah of Bakhtiar's contacts with John F. Kennedy, and Bakhtiar was dismissed in 1961. Ironically, Amini himself was a Kennedy supporter and was dismissed in 1963 partly because of the Shah's growing distrust of Kennedy. Initially from his self chosen exile in Geneva, Bakhtiar retaliated by establishing contacts with Iranian dissidents in Europe, Iraq, and Lebanon, using the contacts he had built during his time at SAVAK. He met not only Ayatollah Khomeini but also Reza Radmanesh, the General Secretary of the Tudeh party, and Mahmud Panahian, the "War Minister" of autonomy-seeking state Democratic Republic of South Azerbaijan, that had emerged briefly after the Soviet forces withdrew from Iran, following World War II. The Shah issued a warrant for Bakhtiar's arrest, but the general sought refuge in Iraq.

On August 12, 1970, during a a hunting party, he was shot and killed (disguised as an accident) by Iranian Savak agents, feigning to be sympathizers. As a cover for the plot, the assassins had enacted the highjacking of an Iranian passenger plane, forcing it to land in Baghdad. Guising as dissidents of the Iranian government, the two assassins duped the Iraqi regime and gained access to Teymour Bakhtiar and his entourage. The truth behind these circumstances emerged only years later. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi himself has been quoted as claiming the assassination a personal success. In an interview with the acclaimed French author and biographer, Gerard de Villiers, the Shah publicly made a relevant statement to this effect.

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Gerard de Villiers, "THE IMPERIAL SHAH", Paris, 1974.
Zabih, S. "Bakhtiar, Teymur." Ed. Ehsan Yarshater. Encyclopaedia Iranica.
Vol. III. New York: Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation, 1989.