Mostafa Chamran

Mostafa Chamran
Member of the Parliament of Iran
In office
28 May 1980  20 June 1981
Constituency Tehran, Rey and Shemiranat
Majority 1,100,842 (51.5%)
Minister of National Defense
In office
29 September 1979  29 October 1980
Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan
Preceded by Taghi Riahi
Succeeded by Ali Khamenei
Deputy Prime Minister of Iran for Revolutionary Affairs
In office
12 April 1979  29 September 1979
Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan
Preceded by Ebrahim Yazdi
Personal details
Born 8 March 1932
Tehran, Iran
Died 20 June 1981(1981-06-20) (aged 49)
Dehlaviyeh, Iran
Resting place Behesht-e Zahra, Tehran
Nationality Iranian
Spouse(s) Tamsen H. Parvaneh (1961– div. 1973)
Ghadeh Jaber (1977–1981)
Children Roushan
Alma mater Tehran University
Texas A&M University
UC Berkeley
Profession Scientist
Religion Shia Islam
Military service
Allegiance Iran Imperial Army of Iran
Iran Islamic Republic of Iran Army
Service/branch Amal Movement
Irregular Warfare Headquarters
Years of service 1966
Rank Chief Commander
Battles/wars Lebanese Civil War
Iran–Iraq War

Mostafa Chamran (Persian: مصطفی چمران) (8 March 1932 20 June 1981, Tehran, Iran) was an Iranian Physicist, politician, commander and Guerrilla who served as the first defense minister of post-revolutionary Iran and as member of parliament, as well as the commander of paramilitary volunteers in Iran–Iraq War, known as "Irregular Warfare Headquarters". He was killed during the Iran–Iraq War. In Iran, he is known as a martyr and a symbol of an ideological and revolutionary Muslim who left academic careers and prestigious positions as a scientist and professor in the US, University of California, Berkeley and migrated in order to help the Islamic movements in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt as a chief revolutionary guerilla, as well as in the Islamic revolution of Iran. He helped to found the Amal Movement in southern Lebanon.

Early life and education

Chamran was born into a religious family on 8 March 1932 in Tehran.[1] Earlier he was educated by Ayatollah Taleqani and Morteza Motahari.[2] He studied at Alborz High School and then graduated from Tehran University with a bachelor's degree in electro mechanics.[1]

In the late 1950s, he moved to the United States for higher education, obtaining a M.S. degree from the Texas A&M University.[3] He then went on to obtain his Ph.D. in electrical engineering and plasma physics in 1963 from the University of California, Berkeley.[4]

He was then hired as a senior research staff scientist at Bell Laboratories and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the 1960s.[2][5] He was fluent in Persian, English, Arabic, French, and German.

Career and activities

Chamran was one of the senior members of the Freedom Movement led by Mehdi Bazargan in the 1960s.[1][6] He was part of the radical external wing together with Ebrahim Yazdi, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh and Ali Shariati.[7]

Following graduation, Chamran went to Cuba to receive military training.[8] In December 1963, he along with Ghotbzadeh and Yazdi left the US for Egypt where he was trained in guerilla warfare.[9][10] They met the Egyptian authorities to establish an anti-Shah organization in the country, which was later called SAMA, special organization for unity and action.[7] Chamran was chosen as its military head.[7] Upon his return to the US in 1965 he founded a group, Red Shiism, in San Jose with the aim of training militants.[9] His brother, Mehdi, was also part of the group.[9] In 1968, he founded another group, the Muslim Students’ Association of America (MSA), and it was led by Ebrahim Yazdi.[9] The group managed to establish branches in the United Kingdom and France.[9]

In 1971 Chamran left the US for Lebanon[9] and joined the camps of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Amal movement.[8] He became a leading and founding member of the Islamic revolutionary movement in the Middle East, organizing and training guerrillas and revolutionary forces in Algeria, Egypt, Syria. During the civil war in Lebanon he actively cooperated with Musa Al Sadr, founder of the Amal movement.[11] Chamran also became an Amal member and "right-hand man of Sadr".[12][13]

Chamran along with Sadegh Ghotbzadeh was part of the faction, called "Syrian mafia", in the court of Khomeini, and there was a feud between his group and the Libya-friendly group, led by Mohammad Montazeri.[14]

Valiollah Fallahi, Chamran and Abbas Aghazamani after liberation of Paveh

With the Islamic Revolution taking place in Iran, Chamran returned to Iran.[15] In 1979, he served as deputy prime minister in the cabinet of Mehdi Bazargan.[16][17] He was appointed commander of Iran's Pasdaran (March 1979 – 1981)[18] and led the military operations in Kurdistan where Kurds rebelled against the Islamic regime.[16] He served as minister of defense from September 1979 to 1980,[19] being the first civil defense minister of the Islamic Republic.[20]

In March 1980, he was elected to the Majlis of Iran (the Iranian Parliament) as a representative of Tehran.[21] In May 1980, he was named the Ayatollah's representative to the Supreme Council of National Defense.[22]

Personal life

Chamran was married to Tamsen Heiman, an American Muslim, in 1961. They had one daughter Roushan and three sons Ali, Jamal and Rahim. Jamal was drowned in childhood and the rest of their children currently live in the US. After migrating to Lebanon, due to the difficulties they were facing, Tamsen left Chamran in 1973 and went back to the US. She died in 2009.

Later on Chamran was married to a Lebense, Ghadeh Jaber.[23]


Tomb of Mostafa Chamran in the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery in Iran

Chamran led an infantry unit during the Iran–Iraq War and was shot twice in his left leg by shrapnel from a mortar shell.[5] However, he refused to leave his unit.[5] He was killed in Dehlavieh on 20 June 1981 as the war was raging on.[1][24][25][26][27] His death was regarded as "suspicious" and the related details have remained unclear.[15][28][29] Chamran was buried in the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in Tehran.[5]


Khomenei publicly proclaimed Chamran as a "proud commander of Islam."[5] Chamran was posthumously given a hero status, and many buildings and streets in Iran and Lebanon were named for him, as well as a major expressway.[5] In 2012, Mohsen Alavi Pour published Chamran's biography.[30] A species of moth were named after him in 2013.[31][32] Nick Robinson published an English biography of Chamran in the United Kingdom in 2013, 22: Not a new lifestyle for those who thirst for humanity!.[33]

In 2014 a film named Che was released to honor Chamran. The film portrays two days of Chamran's life after the Islamic Revolution defending Paveh and received lots of attention and won some awards[34]


  1. 1 2 3 4 Moezzinia, Vida. "Dr. Mostafa Chamran". IICHS. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  2. 1 2 "Shahid Mostafa Chamran has been known for his life of sacrifices". ABNA. 26 June 2010. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  3. "An integrator based on motion and electrostatic charge. (Book, 1959)". []. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  4. "Ph.D. Dissertations; EECS at UC Berkeley". CS. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Scott Peterson (21 September 2010). Let the Swords Encircle Me: Iran--A Journey Behind the Headlines. Simon & Schuster. p. 701. ISBN 978-1-4165-9739-1. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  6. "Mehdi Bazargan's biography". Bazargan website. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  7. 1 2 3 Houchang Chehabi; Rula Jurdi Abisaab; Centre for Lebanese Studies (Great Britain) (2 April 2006). Distant Relations: Iran and Lebanon in the Last 500 Years. I.B.Tauris. p. 182. ISBN 978-1-86064-561-7. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  8. 1 2 Zabih, Sepehr (September 1982). "Aspects of Terrorism in Iran". Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. International Terrorism. Sage Publications. 463: 84–94. doi:10.1177/0002716282463001007. JSTOR 1043613.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Barsky, Yehudit (May 2003). "Hizballah" (Terrorism Briefing). The American Jewish Committee. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  10. Samii, Abbas William (1997). "The Shah's Lebanon policy: the role of SAVAK". Middle Eastern Studies. 33 (1): 66–91. doi:10.1080/00263209708701142. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  11. Ostovar, Afshon P. (2009). "Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Ideology, Politics, and the Development of Military Power in Iran (1979–2009)" (PhD Thesis). University of Michigan. Retrieved 26 July 2013.
  12. "Musa al Sadr: The Untold Story". Asharq Alawsat. 31 May 2008. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
  13. Ataie, Mohammad (Summer 2013). "Revolutionary Iran's 1979 endeavor in Lebanon". Middle East Policy. XX (2). doi:10.1111/mepo.12026. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  14. Gayn, Mark (20 December 1979). "Into the depths of a boiling caldron". Edmonton Journal. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  15. 1 2 John H. Lorentz (1 April 2010). The A to Z of Iran. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-8108-7638-5. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  16. 1 2 "Iran Unleashes Might on Kurds". The Pittsburgh Press. Tehran. UPI. 2 September 1979. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  17. "Kurds claim town siege". The Palm Beach Post. 17 August 1979. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  18. Schahgaldian, Nikola B. (March 1987). "The Iranian Military Under the Islamic Republic". RAND. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  19. Sepehr Zabir (23 April 2012). The Iranian Military in Revolution and War (RLE Iran D). CRC Press. p. 277. ISBN 978-1-136-81270-5. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
  20. Rose, Gregory F. (Spring–Summer 1984). "The Post-Revolutionary Purge of Iran's Armed Forces: A Revisionist Assessment". Iranian Studies. 17 (2-3): 153–194. doi:10.1080/00210868408701627. JSTOR 4310440.
  21. Bahman Baktiari (1996). Parliamentary Politics in Revolutionary Iran: The Institutionalization of Factional Politics. University Press of Florida. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-8130-1461-6. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  22. "Khomenei's hard-liners triumph". The Spokesman Review. AP. May 1980. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  23. "Mostafa Chamran's Lebanon converted into Arabic". Iran Book News Agency. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  24. Bernard Reich, Political Leaders of the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa p.466
  25. Daniel Brumberg, Reinventing Khomeini p.272
  26. Houchang Chehabi; Rula Jurdi Abisaab (2 April 2006). Distant Relations. I.B.Tauris. p. 208. ISBN 978-1-86064-561-7. Retrieved 19 February 2013.
  27. Houchang E. Chehabi, Iranian Politics and Religious Modernism p.293
  28. Manouchehr Ganji (2002). Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-275-97187-8. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
  29. Augustus R. Norton (19 January 2009). Hezbollah: A Short History. Princeton University Press. pp. 30–. ISBN 978-0-691-14107-7. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  30. "Martyr Chamran's biography book unveiled". Taqrib News. 20 June 2012. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  31. Esfandiari, M.; Gyulai, P.; Rabieh, M.; Seraj, A.; Ronkay, L. (2013). "Anagnorisma chamrani sp. n. (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae) from Iran". ZooKeys. 317: 17. doi:10.3897/zookeys.317.5515.
  32. "New Anagnorisma Moth Species from Beautiful Binaloud Mountain Iran". Science Daily. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  33. "Book on lifestyle of Iranian veteran Chamran published in UK". Tehran Times. Tehran. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  34. Iran 32 nd Fajr Intl. Film Festival honor winners Press TV: 15 February 2014. Retrieved 24 September 2014.
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