CNN on Monday conducted a lengthy interview with an Iranian government official who once served as the spokeswoman for a group of students who held 52 American diplomats hostage for more than a year in 1979.
CNN’s Christiane Amanpour did little to push back on Iranian official Massoumeh Ebtekar’s assertions that the U.S. carried out a “terrorist” action by killing Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian general killed in a U.S. airstrike Jan. 2.
Ebtekar said in an interview in 1979 during the hostage crisis that she would personally be willing to put a gun to one of the hostages’ heads and pull the trigger.
Ebtekar, 59, serves as vice president of Iran for women and family affairs.
“The American president made a serious miscalculation, they made a serious mistake by assassinating, by taking this terrorist action, against Commander Soleimani, and I’m sure that they regret what they have done,” she said in her interview with Amanpour.
“This has created a great new spirit in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and in many countries in the world for all those who support freedom seekers, and for those who support the oppressed. Because it’s very clear that Iran is being targeted, and Soleimani was singled out because of this quest for righteousness against Da’esh.”
Amanpour did little to challenge Ebtekar’s characterization of the U.S. as committing an act of terror. The journalist did note that Soleimani is not viewed kindly outside of Iran because of his ruthless campaigns in Iraq and Syria, which have led to the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers.
“You were, and are, a committed revolutionary. You were very prominent in the early days of the Islamic revolution, but you became more of a reformist as well, and you supported the negotiations for the Iran nuclear deal and diplomacy to settle some issues,” the reporter said in the 16-minute interview.
Ebtekar said in an interview in 1979 that she would personally be willing to shoot a hostage at point-blank range if U.S. forces tried to rescue the hostages.
“You said at a press conference the other day … if there was an attack on this embassy, you will destroy the hostages. Could you really do that?” a reporter asked Ebtekar in an interview that aired June 12, 1979.
“Yes, we mean it,” said Ebtekar.
“Could you personally lift up a gun and put it to the head of one of these people and kill him?” the reporter asked.
“Yes,” Ebtekar replied.
Eight American service members died during an attempt April 24, 1980, to rescue the hostages. They were eventually freed Jan. 20, 1981, hours after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated president.
CNN did not respond to a request for comment.