CIA Art Group in Service of the Coup


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Mossadeq, the thief. Cartoon by Leslie Illingworth. Daily Mail. 4 October 1951. Source:

“Psychological warfare” was one of most important dimensions of the coup operation and part of the plan from its first conceptions. In the weeks leading to the coup, this aspect of the operation became very important. Propaganda cartoons and articles were used to undermine the credibility of Mossadeq and his government and prepare the public in Iran and outside for what was to come.

The CIA Art Group, a section of the PP Staff Advisory Panel, was asked to prepare a considerable number of anti-Mossadeq cartoons… Dr. Donald Wilber was charged throughout the operation with the propaganda aspects of the plan and worked closely with the CIA Art Group in the preparation of propaganda material.

Wilber’s group sent guidance cables and dispatches to the station, all intended to flesh up the skeleton of psychological operations as presented in the plan itself. In the meantime a considerable number of anti-Mossadeq articles were written or outlined by the group while the CIA Art Group was given constant guidance in its preparation of a large number of anti-Mossadeq cartoons and broadsheets. In addition, these artists did an effective drawing for a wall poster showing Zahedi being presented to the Iranian people by the Shah. Written and illustrative material piled up rapidly, and on 19 July a special courier took it all to Tehran. On 22 July the station began to distribute the material to several agents. [Wilber, D. “The Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran.” CIA, 1954. Retrieved 05/11/2010.]

The cartoons at the top of this post were published in British newspapers. They are not the work of the CIA Art Group. I have seen some of “Headquarters-prepared” cartoons but they’re not available to me now.

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