About Operation Nimrod

Welcome to Operation Nimrod a website dedicated to 22nd SAS raid on the London Iranian Embassy in 1980.

I have an Operation Nimrod Documentary video explaining the whole operation and also I have set up an Airsoft Shop.

On the 30th May 1980 at 11.30am on the quite sleepy streets of Princess Gate in South Kensington, London a group of six armed Arab men stormed the Iranian embassy Armed with submachine guns, Browning 9mm pistols, and Russian-made hand grenades.

The gunmen, members of the Arab group KSA group campaigning for Arab national sovereignty in the southern Iranian region of Khuzestan Province. They took hostage 26 people, mostly embassy staff, but also political delegates, as well as a police officer, constable Trevor Lock, who had been guarding the embassy.

The hostage-takers demanded the release of around 90 Arab prisoners from prisons in Khuzestan. But essentially they were attacking the year-old Islamic regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and were reported to have had the backing of Khomeini’s arch-enemy, the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

 

Over the following days, police negotiators secured the release of five hostages in exchange for minor concessions, such as the broadcasting of the hostage-takers’ demands on British television. By the sixth day of the siege, the gunmen had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress in meeting their demands.

Their leader, known as Oan, immediately announced that if their demands were not met by noon the following day, 1 May, “the embassy and all the hostages will be blown up.” Needless to say, British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was not for negotiating with terrorists and the white-fronted five-story embassy building became the scene of a tense stand-off for several days, surrounded by armed police.

Meanwhile, McAleese and his on-call unit from Pagoda Troop, B Squadron, 22 SAS Regiment set up headquarters at an army barracks in Regent’s Park and prepared what they codenamed Operation Nimrod – a contingency plan for an assault on the embassy. Some of them took over the Royal School of Needlework, on the same block, to use it as a model since its layout was identical to that of the embassy.

Over the next 5 days the gunmen released five hostages in return for minor concessions, but any hope of a peaceful outcome ended at 7pm on 5 May when they shot dead one of the hostage, Iranian press attaché Abbas Lavasani, and threw his body out of the embassy onto the streets of Princess Gate, Kensington, London. Oan, who had apparently shot Lavasani, said a hostage would be killed every half an hour if their demands were not met.

That was it. Thatcher immediately gave her Home Secretary, Willie Whitelaw, the green light to send in the SAS. McAleese and his men were ready – Red Team on the roof, and Blue Team, including himself, in an adjoining building, No 15, home of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

Then at 7.23pm, the call, Go, Go, Go rang out over their radios and the SAS Assault on the Iranian Embassy began. This was what they were training intensely for 4 days to do. Eight men from Red Team, all in black overalls, black balaclavas and gas masks, began abseiling from the embassy roof down to its back windows. At 7.26pm, McAleese, carrying a Heckler & Koch MP5 assault rifle, could be seen on live TV on a front balcony of 15 Princes Gate with a few men from Blue Team. As he jumped on to a balcony of the embassy itself, his all-black outfit stood out dramatically against the white of the building. Millions watched the drama unfold on. The man in black blew up a window and burst in. The explosion was also the signal for the abseil team at the back to storm in and start shooting.

By 7.40pm, one hostage had been killed in the crossfire, the others rescued unharmed, five of the terrorists killed and one, Fowzi Nejad, captured alive. The sole remaining gunman was prosecuted and served 27 years in British prisons and was released in 2008.

The SAS had brought the 6 days siege to a swift end in 17 minutes that sent a message to the world as a warning to not go against Britain on home soil.

The soldiers later faced accusations of unnecessarily killing two of the five, but an inquest into the deaths eventually cleared the SAS of any wrongdoing.