Hostage crisis: Foreign Office envisaged SAS teams for hire
British officials predicted the storming of the Iranian embassy by the SAS would lead to a rash of "loan" requests from governments around the world to sort out other terrorist crises.
In May 1980, the TV footage of black-clad SAS men abseiling down the side of the London embassy building - where gunmen were holding 26 hostages - brought home to the world what a potent force Britain had. Papers released by the National Archives show officials were so confident they drew up indemnity forms for foreign governments to sign.
Within days of the siege ending, DE Tatham in the Foreign Office Middle East department was writing: "I suspect we may also get requests in the event of a future hijack or siege involving hostages, for the loan of an SAS team to resolve the problem.
"I think it would be useful to have a pro forma agreement covering the use of the SAS in a third country by invitation."
The form, he suggested, should cover "immunity from prosecution and all claims in the event of causing casualties, life insurance, and so on".
He was informed by DCB Beaumont in the maritime, aviation and environment department that such an arrangement was already "on the stocks" as part of Britain's plan for military intervention in the event of a terrorist incident overseas.
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