SAS hero thought grenade-holding terrorist was hostage and threw him down stairs

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An SAS hero who was part of the team that rescued 19 hostages during the Iranian Embassy siege in London in 1980 has admitted the entire terrifying episode almost ended in a more disastrous fashion.

The brave soldier threw one of the terrorists down the stairs without realising – and has admitted that many hostages could have died if the grenade had gone off.

Ian 'Chalky' White, 66, was one of the members of the special forces who was called into action to raid the Iranian embassy after six days of siege during which terrorists had taken 26 people hostage.

The hostage-takers were members of the Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan (DRFLA), Iranian Arabs protesting for the establishment of an autonomous Arab state in the southern region of the Iranian province of Khūzestān.

By the sixth day of the siege, the gunmen were increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress in meeting their demands and decided to kill a hostage and throw his body out of the embassy.

The SAS were swiftly deployed to storm the embassy and rescue the remaining hostages as part of Operation Nimrod.

Speaking to Forces TV on YouTube, White said: "The first body appeared and that rocked everything, it rocked Cobra, it must have rocked the Prime Minister, because she knew then there was only going to be one end to this situation."

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He goes on to describe the SAS' entry into the embassy and how they proceeded to clear out each floor one by one, before finding the hostages.

He explained: "I'm on the second floor and there is a main staircase but that starts on the first floor down to the ground floor. What there is, is a secondary staircase off to the left.

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"So the hostages are coming from my right, they're being passed to me and I'm grabbing them and we've got a human chain. It's the quickest way and I remember throwing them down the stairs.

"I was getting quite clever, because even then my mind's working and I'm going, 'turn them as you throw them, because their back will hit the wall and then my mate who's on the next bit will grab them and push them down even further'.

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"It's at this moment I grabbed this person and as I turned him and started throwing him down, I realised it's a terrorist and he's got a grenade.

"So as I let go of this and I'm shouting terrorist and I'm moving back to the balcony to look over, by this time there's three of us that have spotted this because it's happened so quickly that this man has been shoved down and we're yelling over, 'terrorist, grenade'.

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"Luckily by that time he had gotten down to that bottom balcony, he was spotted and he was taken care of.

"If that grenade had gone off, we would have lost a lot of hostages."

Ultimately, the SAS commandos managed to heroically save 19 of the remaining 20 hostages, killing five of the six terrorists and capturing the sixth.

  • London
  • SAS
  • Military

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