My Century Home Page

Broadcast on Friday 24th December 1999


My name is Ibrahim Yazdi. I was one of the colleagues of Mr Khomeini. I was with him in Paris and then came back with him to Tehran. I was Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister during the Provisional Government. Well, when the Shah left Iran, one of the immediate consequences of the departure of the Shah was that Mr Khomeini announced that he would go to Iran. The atmosphere was right, the excitement was there, and the whole country inside Iran was in a state of excitement and listening to Khomeini's message. You must understand Khomeini as a man who was superb in concealing his feelings. Inside, he was very excited. But outside you could not guess anything about what was going on inside.

To come back to Iran: the civil airline in Iran arranged independently a flight from Tehran to Paris to bring Khomeini back. They called it the Revolutionary Flight. But we didn't trust them, because we knew that there was a possibility that the army might attack, or the army might force the aeroplane to land in some remote area So we didn't accept that. Instead, we chartered an Air France plane. In addition to that, we took with us more a hundred and twenty journalists - reporters from all over the world. I have to confess that we took them as a human shield, so to speak. We knew that nobody would dare to shoot at such a plane, with so many reporters, from so many nationalities. Before we left Paris, a friend of mine sent three bullet-proof jackets for us, from America, one for me, one for Mr Ahmad, Khomeini's son, and one for Khomeini himself. Khomeini didn't want to put it on. Mr Ahmad put pressure on him. He said; "No!". Finally, Mr Ahmad asked me if I could talk to his father and convince him. So, after the dawn prayer, I convinced him. I took off his garment and put the jacket on him. When he left the aeroplane, if you look, he was a little bit fat, because of that jacket. And it was very heavy; 12 kilograms.

I was the last one to leave the plane and walk into the terminal. I cried only when I saw my father - he was in the airport. And also when I saw Mr Toleroni. We were very close to each other. Actually, he was the one who solemnised my marriage. When I entered the terminal, I saw Mr Khomeini in the centre of the terminal. And many people were around him. And they were singing the revolutionary song "Khomeini Imam". Mr Barzagan and many of our old friends were standing in the corner. Mr Toleroni was sitting in one corner. So after I had greeted my father and Mr Barzagan, I went to Toleroni. And when he saw me, he started to weep. He was crying. The tears were all over his face, his beard. And I couldn't control myself. He was crying. I was crying. We could not talk. We could not say anything. That was a moment of excitement for me. The number of people was historical. The whole city was in a big excitement. I don't know how many millions came to welcome him. It was almost impossible for any of us to control the mob. Nobody could imagine such things. The excitement of the people, the euphoria of that victory - they could not handle the crowd that turned out.