Nader Jahanbani

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Nader Jahanbani
General Nader Jahanbani.png
General Nader Jahanbani
Nickname(s) The "Blue Eyed General"
Born (1928-04-16)16 April 1928
Tehran, Iran
Died 13 March 1979(1979-03-13) (aged 50)
Qasr Prison, Tehran, Iran
Buried at Behesht-e Zahra
Allegiance Iran
Service/branch IIAF-Seal.svg Imperial Iranian Air Force
Years of service 1952–1979
Rank IIAF-Sepahbod.png Lieutenant General
Commands held Deputy Chief of the Imperial Iranian Air Force
Relations Amanullah Jahanbani (father)
Anushiravan Jahanbani (son)
Golnar Jahanbani (daughter)
Khosrow Jahanbani (brother)
Shahnaz Pahlavi (sister in-law)
Christiane Amanpour (niece in-law)
Other work Commander of the Vahdati AFB in Khuzestan
Commander of the Golden Crown

Lieutenant-General Nader Jahanbani or Djahanbani (Persian: سپهبد نادر جهانبانی‎‎ Sepahbod Nāder-e Jahānbānī; 16 April 1928 – 13 March 1979) was a distinguished Iranian general and the deputy chief of the Imperial Iranian Air Force under the Chief Commander Amir Hossein Rabii and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. Despite being executed in 1979 by Islamic Revolutionaries, he is widely lauded as the "father of the Iranian Air Force" along with general Mohammad Khatami, for modernizing the Air Force to become a potent and powerful force whose advanced equipment and training he acquired for Iran, such as the F-14 Tomcat, would save Iran's crucial infrastructure during the Iran-Iraq War.

Early life and education[edit]

Jahanbani was born into a family with a long military history. His father, Amanullah Jahanbani, was a lieutenant general, who served in the Persian Cossack Brigade with Reza Shah Pahlavi. He was a Qajar prince, great grandson of Fath Ali Shah.[1][2] Nader's mother, Helen Kasminsky, was from the Russian aristocracy in Petrograd. He had two brothers, Parviz, who was an officer in the Imperial Iranian Marines, and Khosrow, who married Shahnaz Pahlavi.[1]

Nader Jahanbani had two children from two wives, a son, Anushiravan, from his first wife, Azar Etessam, and a daughter, Golnar, from his second wife, Farah Azam Zangeneh. Both children live in the United States.

Amanullah was imprisoned when Nader Jahanbani was 12, but after Reza Shah died, he was released and made a senator by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. By then, his father sent him to the Russian Air Force Academy, from which he graduated, and entered the IIAF in 1952 with the rank of first lieutenant.

In 1952, Jahanbani was selected to be sent to Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base in Germany to attend the jet pilot training school to become a pilot for the first Iranian jet fighter aircraft, the F-84 Thunderjet, which was slated for delivery in 1955, along with 15 other pilots including Mohammad Khatami. Upon completion of the training program, 10 pilots returned to Iran while Jahanbani, along with four others, continued their training to become instructors back in Iran.[3]


After completing the Jet Instructor pilot course and returning to Iran, Jahanbani formed Iran's first aerobatic team, called the Golden Crown (Taje Talaii) together with other officers, including Mohammad Amir Khatami and Amir Hossein Rabi'i.[3]

Jahanbani played a crucial role in the Iranian Air Force during the 1960s and 1970s by helping to create an effective air force.[4] He served as the Deputy Commander of the Air Force.[5][6] He was also general secretary of the National Sports Federation.[5][7]


When the Shah declared martial law in response to mounting protests in 1978, and put military officers in charge, Jahanbani was not one of the military commanders, since he had very little experience with internal security affairs. As a result, when the Shah fled, despite the urging of his family, his friends in the US Air Force, as well as the Shah himself and his daughter Shahnaz (who was his sister in-law), Jahanbani falsely thought that he was safe from possible purges and retaliation against the security officials who suppressed the protests, as well as his belief that Iran's powerful air force would be a testament of his loyalty to the country, not the Shah himself.

However, General Shahpour Azarbarzin, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, who was a longtime rival against Jahanbani and General Rabii, managed to garner the support of the other generals to pledge their loyalty to Khomeini at the Alavi School and exposed to Khomeini, that Jahanbani, along with Generals Amir Hossein Rabii (Commander of the IIAF), Hashem Berenjian (Commander of IIAF Intelligence), and Ayat Mohaheghi (Tactical Air Commander) were plotting a coup d'etat against him. In return Azarbarzin was promoted to the Commander of the newly established Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, and was given a cheque for one million dollars.[citation needed] Khomeini subsequently ordered the Revolutionary Guards to arrest Jahanbani, among others, at the Air Force headquarters at Doshan Tappeh. He was one of the first of the Shah's generals to be arrested, and was sent to a court run by the infamous Sadegh Khalkhali.

He was charged and convicted with:

Association with the Shah's idolatrous regime; Corruption on earth; Unspecified anti-revolutionary offense; War on God, God's Prophet, and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam

He was taken to Qasr Prison and in the early hours of 13 March 1979 he was shot in the courtyard of the prison.[8] His last words were "long live Iran".[5]

Empress Farah Pahlavi wrote:

"A bit later, I managed to contact by phone a dear friend whose husband, Air Force Lieutenant General Nader Jahanbani, had just been executed. Insulted by one of the guardians of the revolution, he had the courage to slap him in the face before dying. She was sobbing and I, who should have been able to find words to comfort her, could do nothing but cry with her. That evening, in despair, I wrote these few lines in my notebook: "I don't feel I have the strength in me to go on fighting. I would prefer to die for my country with honor rather than be dragged toward death by the depression that is overtaking me. Dear God, if you are there, give me the strength to go on."


Despite being killed before the Iran-Iraq War, many of the things he did for the Iranian Air Force, such as acquiring the F-4, F-5, F-14, advanced radar systems, and the AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missiles, as well as the training for his students, are widely credited for saving the country from the Iraqi invasion, and were later used to protect the areas of the country which were crucial to the Regime's survival, such as Tehran and Kharg Island. Even the report of one F-14 in an area was enough to have the Iraqis pull out an entire squadron from going up against them. 30 years on, the F-14 Tomcat is still a premier fighter jet in the Iranian Air Force inventory.


  1. ^ a b "The Qajar Dynasty". Royal Ark. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Centers of Power in Iran" (PDF). CIA. May 1972. Retrieved 5 August 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Golden Crown History". IIAF. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Alidad Mafinezam; Aria Mehrabi (2008). Iran and Its Place Among Nations. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 35. ISBN 978-0-275-99926-1. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c "Mr. Nader Jahanbani". OMID. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "Law And Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran" (Report). Amnesty International. 13 March 1980. Retrieved 3 August 2013. 
  7. ^ "Pictures". Sapia. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "IIAF Personnel killed by Islamic Regime between 1979 - Present". Imperial Iranian Air Force. Retrieved 30 July 2013. 
  • 'Alí Rizā Awsatí (عليرضا اوسطى), Iran in the Past Three Centuries (Irān dar Se Qarn-e Goz̲ashteh - ايران در سه قرن گذشته), Volumes 1 and 2 (Paktāb Publishing - انتشارات پاکتاب, Tehran, Iran, 2003). ISBN 964-93406-6-1 (Vol. 1), ISBN 964-93406-5-3 (Vol. 2).

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