There may be, and likely are, other Americans who were secretly abducted and held in Iran as hostages-prisoners that the U.S. government is aware of, but the general public knows nothing about. That’s mainly because of the U.S. State Department’s policy and advice to the families of new hostages is not to talk to the media. Instead they are counseled to keep quiet, to not encourage ransom demands, nor increase publicity for the terrorists’ claims in the media. Meanwhile, the State Department say they will work quietly behind the scenes on behalf of the family’s and hostage’s best interests. Some say that U.S. works rater in what it perceives as the nations best (political) interests.
AMERICANS HELD HOSTAGE IN IRAN SINCE 1979 ISLAMIC REVOLUTION TO 2016 *
DETAINEES: FROM TO TOTAL # OF DAYS YRS, MOS, DAYS
52 U.S. Embassy Hostages 11/4/1979 1/20/1981 444 1 2 17
Robert Levinson 3/9/2007 UNRESOLVED 3403 on 7/1/16 9 4 24
Sarah Shourd 7/31/2009 9/14/2010 410 1 1 14
Shane Bauer & Josh Fattal 7/31/2009 9/21/2011 782 2 1 21
Amir Hekmati 8/29/2011 1/17/2016 1603 4 4 20
Saeed Abedini 7/28/2012(1) 1/17/2016 1269 3 5 21
Jason Rezaian 7/22/2014 1/17/2016 545 1 5 27
Siamak Namazi 10/15/2015(2) UNRESOLVED 261 on 7/1/16 – 9 18
* Listed by date taken hostage or of disappearance in Iran.
The U.S. and Iran did not have direct official diplomatic relations for over 34 years, ever since the U.S. Embassy in Tehran was overrun by Islamic jihad students and supporters of the Ayatollah. That was November 1979 and it wasn’t until the nuclear talks were announced in November 2013 that face to face talks were resumed. However, Iran is still listed by the State Department as one of only 3 nations worldwide currently designated as a ‘state sponsor of terror.’
The Ayatollah’s own personal military arm, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), with its network of dozens of clandestine holding sites throughout Iran, is named separately as a terrorist organization and is responsible for 1000’s of deaths, random incarcerations and serious injuries within Iran, and also for American and coalition partners’ deaths and maiming as a result of supplying weapons and IED’s in Iraq and Afghanistan. The IRGC was behind the recent capture of 10 U.S. sailors.
(1) Approximate – includes 60 days of house arrest.
(2) Estimate – like many other hostages, Namazi initially ‘disappeared’ and was later discovered by family in prison.