Jamshid Amouzegar, who held several prominent ministerial positions, including prime minister, in pre-revolutionary Iran and who was kidnapped in the 1970s by the terrorist Carlos the Jackal, died Sept. 27 at a hospice facility in Rockville, Md. He was 93.
The cause was sepsis, said a brother, Kuros Amouzegar.
Dr. Amouzegar was trained as an engineer in the United States and began his career in Iran in the early 1950s on water resource development. He went on to hold several positions in the Iranian government, including undersecretary in the ministry of health; secretary of labor; secretary of agriculture, and secretary of health.
From 1965 to 1974, he was secretary of finance and represented Iran in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Dr. Amouzegar later served as Iran’s secretary of the interior before becoming prime minister from August 1977 to September 1978. He left Iran in December 1978, two months before the Iranian revolution, led by religious hard-liners.
At an OPEC meeting in Vienna in December 1975, Dr. Amouzegar was among dozens of people taken hostage by a terrorist group led by Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, a Venezuelan militant known as Carlos the Jackal. As he took the OPEC ministers prisoner, he introduced himself by saying, “I am the famous Carlos. You will have heard of me.”
Three people were killed during the initial siege. Dr. Amouzegar was one of several hostages flown to Algeria, where he and a Saudi Arabian oil minister were threatened with summary execution. The Algerian president, Houari Boumedienne, said any killings would result in a full-scale attack on the airplane on which Carlos held the hostages.
After 72 hours, a settlement was reached, leading to the release of Dr. Amouzegar and the remaining hostages. Carlos went free and was not captured until 1994.
Jamshid Amouzegar was born June 25, 1923, in Tehran. His father was an Iranian supreme court justice and scholar who wrote 20 books, including a dictionary of the Persian language.
Dr. Amouzegar studied at Tehran University before leaving Iran in 1944 to study civil engineering in the United States. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1946 from Cornell University, a master’s degree from the University of Washington in 1948 and a doctorate from Cornell in 1950.
He did not return to Iran after leaving the country in 1978. He lived in Chevy Chase, Md., and later in Rockville and was an independent consultant to the governments of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for many years.
His wife of 54 years, the former Ulrike Schultz, died in 2005.
Survivors include three brothers, Jahangir Amuzegar, a former Iranian minister of commerce and finance and board member of the International Monetary Fund, of Bethesda, Md., Hushang Amouzegar of Holt, England, and Kuros Amouzegar of Washington.
Dr. Amouzegar described the kidnapping by Carlos the Jackal in an interview that was published in The Washington Post in 2000.
“On Dec. 21, 1975, I was presiding over the OPEC conference in Vienna when a door flew open. ‘Don’t move, this is . . .’ Gunshots drowned out the voice. I ducked for cover. When the shooting stopped, I looked at the bullet holes in the wall behind me. Had I been two inches taller, I would be dead. Later, my wife needed medical treatment in the United States. I accompanied her. While we were here, the shah was overthrown. Other former prime ministers were killed. The upshot? I believe in fate.”
An earlier version of this story incorrectly implied that Dr. Amouzegar had a role in the 1973 Arab oil embargo of the United States. Iran did not participate in the embargo.
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