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The Story of Betty Mahmoody
If you have ever had the opportunity to see the 1991 film titled Not Without My Daughter, be warned that this film will be a tear-jerker for you, especially if you have a daughter. Here is a spoiler alert for you. I have watched this same movie more than once, and the ending always has me in near tears inasmuch as I always feel so good that Betty Mahmoody and her then-seven-year-old daughter, Mahtob, ultimately got out of Iran.
The movie itself was based on Betty Mahmoody's book, which has the same title as the film. Shaloo Walia provides a book review of it in her article titled "Book Review: Not Without My Daughter." Everyone who has ever read the book and seen the movie claims that the movie is very different from the book inasmuch as the movie does not include as much in it as the book does. JEN provides a movie review for Not Without My Daughter in her article titled "Mother Daughter Movies."
Betty made a fortune from her book and from her participation in the movie. She has given public speeches and has even founded an organization that helps women who have fallen into similar circumstances as she claimed that she did in Iran. Betty seems honest and candid in every way whenever I have watched her interviews in video clips of her on YouTube.
Having watched the movie, I found nothing suspiciously off about any of its contents regarding what Betty alleges about her ex-husband, the late Dr. Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody. You cannot help but feel empathy for her and her daughter as you watch the entire film. Below is a link to the first of a series of clips from the movie to familiarize you with the plot of it, which is supposedly a true story.
You can find the complete series of video clips from the above-described movie on the YouTube channel named Movieclips. The very last scene of the above-described movie will touch your heart where Betty Mahmoody and her daughter, Mahtob, have entered into Turkey and they see the American flag from a distance above a United States consulate or embassy. She had her passport and related documents in her possession, and she and her daughter were finally going to return home to the United States of America to be reunited with her parents and her two sons in Michigan.
There can no be no question that a wealth of both literary talent and cinematographic skills went into the making of both the book and the movie. However, a number of revelations have surfaced since the time that both the book and the movie were released. These revelations have even me in somewhat of a dilemma over who has actually told the truth about what happened to Betty Mahmoody and Mahtob while they were living in Iran back in the 1980s.
Betty Mahmoody Exhibits Strong Sincerity in Her Voice Whenever She Appears on Camera
Horror stories about American women marrying foreign men and becoming trapped in other nations and even losing custody of their children in those nations are not unknown to most of us. Watch enough editions of 60 Minutes or 20/20 and eventually you're going to come across a story about an American woman who met a seemingly charming foreign man in college or in the social scene and eventually found herself in a trying situation once she married him and agreed to travel with him to his country of origin. The talk show industry was also taking an interest in this subject matter until, of course, talk shows started leaving the television airwaves after the turn of the millennium.
Betty Lover was an American woman who met an Iranian man named Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody and eventually married him in the 1970s. She and this man had the picture-perfect life together and procreated a daughter. They named her Mahtob. She was born in 1979. She became a daddy's girl.
Betty's new husband became an anesthesiologist. The Mahmoodys established themselves in Michigan. The late Dr. Mahmoody was a kind, pleasant gentleman who treated his wife with respect and loved and protected his little girl, Mahtob. Everything was going well for this family. However, the late Dr. Mahmoody had not been back to his home nation, Iran, for a substantial period of time, and he wanted to travel there to spend time with his sister and other family members. He wanted them to get to know his daughter, Mahtob, who was only four years old at the time.
The late Dr. Mahmoody allegedly misled his wife, Betty, to believe that they would only be vacationing for two weeks in Iran back in 1984. For Americans, Iran was not really the ideal country for tourism back then because of corroding diplomatic relations between that nation and the United States of America. Also, a war was raging between that nation and Iraq. It was not exactly Tahiti, to say the least about it. Nevertheless, Betty allowed her husband to talk her into going to Iran with him and bringing their little daughter with them.
Betty had no idea what she was walking into, or at least she reports that her husband was not open and honest about his reasons for wanting them to travel to Iran. After he told her and their daughter that they were all three staying in Iran indefinitely, he changed into a savage Neanderthal full of anger and violent hostility. Betty tried to resist his efforts to hold her and her daughter there against their will, but he was overpowering with her in every way and he had his sister and other family members of his on his side. She and her daughter were clearly outnumbered.
Below Betty gives her story on what took place from the time that she agreed to travel to Iran with her husband and their daughter up to the time that she and her daughter escaped Iran through its wintery mountains. It appears that this same interview below may have taken place in 1991.
In watching the video above, Betty shows no telltale signs of being a liar or even as so much stretching the truth. She presents herself as a mother who has been devoted to the care and the safety of her children her entire life. She even emphasizes in that interview that she did not want her daughter, Mathob, hating her father, because he was a good husband to Betty and a good father to Mathob before they flew to Iran.
In the video above, Betty acknowledges that most of the people that she met in Iran were decent, ethical individuals, and that it was only her then-husband's family with whom she had issues. She does, however, focus on the fact that Iran is a vastly different culture from the United States of America. She presents herself as being committed to helping other women and children who fall into similar or identical circumstances as she and her daughter allegedly did.
In spite of Betty's plausibility, one still has to wonder what the late Dr. Mahmoody had to say about it all. There are two sides to every story, or so the saying goes. Before hearing what the late Dr. Mahmoody's recount of the events behind this same story, it should be noted that Betty does appear to occupy the higher ground than he does in terms of credibility. I think we should all get the late Dr. Mahmoody's version of what happened before drawing any conclusions about what really went down in Iran with the Mahmoodys.
The Late Dr. Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody Claims That He Never Abused Betty Mahmoody or Their Daughter
I have known numerous bicultural marriages throughout my life. I became good friends with a co-worker so many years ago who was an American and was married to an Iranian gentleman. Their marriage had its usual problems, but they did not constantly fight and there was never any violence in their marriage to the best of my knowledge.
When I was living in Los Angeles, California, I noticed that there was a large Iranian population there. I had also come across Iranian men who had American wives. To the best of my knowledge, none of these women had suffered any form of domestic violence at the hands of their husbands.
There was one incident in my apartment building in West Los Angeles in which an Iranian man had beaten on his wife, and the police were contacted. However, his wife was not American but rather Iranian. Therefore, such an injustice could have happened within any marriage of individuals from any nation.
I am not mindless that bicultural marriages can become invitations for exploitation and abuse. Such a situation can work both ways, because there are American men who seek out foreign brides to corner these women into vulnerable spots. It is not specifically one culture that has this problem.
Alexis Kouros pieced together a documentary titled Without My Daughter to provide the late Dr. Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody with the opportunity to tell his side of the story regarding what happened between him and Betty and their daughter, Mahtob, while all three of them were living in Iran back in the 1980s. Below I link to the first in a series of six video clips that provide you with that full 90-minute documentary. You can watch all six video clips of that same full 90-minute documentary on the YouTube channel named theevilpersian so that you can be the judge of whether the late Dr. Mahmoody was really the monster that Betty had made him out to be.
The Late Dr. Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody Maintains His Innocence
Throughout my life, I have heard complaints from fathers' rights activists that mothers and wives usually receive special treatment from the courts here in the United States of America. Go anywhere on YouTube or the Internet, and you will come across MGTOWs who complain that men always get shafted in divorce court proceedings and custody battles inasmuch as the courts always side with women in these types of legal matters here in our nation.
As a child of divorce myself, I can frankly tell you that I don't believe that my mother ever received any special treatment from the court system. As a matter of fact, I had always felt that my father had the advantage over her, because he had a bigger personal budget to work with than she did so that he could pay his divorce lawyer to perform legal tactics that only compounded the amount of expense that my mother ended up owing her own attorney.
When I was a little kid, I even met this boy whose father's negligence and abandonment of him, his sister, and his mother produced such a financial strain on his mother that it led to his sister's death at the age of three. The father left the mother high and dry in that she had no job at the time and she had no means of transportation when he walked out on her and their two kids. Therefore, when the daughter became very sick, the mother phoned the hospital's emergency department a number of times and the dispatch operator there told the mother that she could not send a rescue squad for her daughter unless the mother could identify her daughter's ailment. I know how ridiculous it sounds inasmuch as no emergency dispatch operator can expect for the average layman to be knowledgeable about medicine and illnesses, especially in urgent situations like these.
The mother begged and pleaded for the dispatch operator to send an ambulance to take her daughter to the hospital to save her from dying, but the dispatch operator simply refused to help her. When the mother phoned the father, who had been shacking up with another woman, and asked him to drive their daughter to the hospital, he merely laughed at her and insisted that their daughter had nothing wrong with her. The little girl died shortly thereafter because of the lack of medical attention she needed for a hole in her heart.
The dispatch operators at the hospital's emergency phone number who denied the mother ambulance service to transport her dying daughter to the hospital should have been fired from their jobs. The father should have been arrested and sent to prison for negligent homicide and child neglect. Unfortunately, the law did nothing for the mother, and the father even whined at a subsequent divorce court proceeding that he felt that his wife had been paying more attention to their 3-year-old daughter than to him.
My mother once had a friend whose lawyer suckered her into accepting a divorce settlement with her husband that caused her alimony eventually to expire after so many years. Once this woman was no longer receiving alimony, she became destitute and was constantly asking for financial help from her kids.
Upon reading my article, some men may disagree with me that women can and do get the short end of the stick in divorce court proceedings and custody battles, but I have never really found any evidence that the courts favor women over men in those situations here in our nation. The television entertainment industry and the movie entertainment industry here in our nation always make it seem as though American courts are conservative insofar as they will always award custody of children to the mother and give her everything she wants in a divorce court proceeding. My observations of how our nation's courts operate have given me the opposite impression of how they rule in these types of cases.
The late Dr. Mahmoody built an excellent argument in his interview shown in the above-described documentary of how the American court system threw him under the bus legally. There can be no question that his rights were severely disregarded when Betty was able to get full custody of their daughter and acquire full ownership of any property or assets he still had remaining in the United States of America. That is, the American court system granted Betty all of these same prayers for relief of hers after conducting hearings in the late Dr. Mahmoody's absence. There was not even anybody present at these hearings to represent him.
Now if everything that Betty accused the late Dr. Mahmoody of doing to her was true, I will not condone what the American courts did to deny the late Dr. Mahmoody's his rights in the legal proceedings that Betty brought against him; but I also will not be giving him any pity parties either. If what Betty said about him is true, he is equally as guilty of disregarding and even violating her human rights when she and their daughter were living with him in Iran.
In the above-described interview, the late Dr. Mahmoody does present a convincing series of arguments to counter Betty's claims against him. He does not appear to be the kind of man who would beat or harm his wife or his daughter in any manner. If everything that he states in his defense is true, then my heart goes out to him and I feel very sad that he died only seven years after the above-described interview and never got to see his daughter again.
Even if everything that the late Dr. Mahmoody states in his defense in the above-described interview does hold as true, there is still one very disturbing question that lingers in my mind regarding his decision to convince his wife to travel with him to Iran and take their little daughter with them. The year 1984 was not an ideal time for anyone to be visiting Iran, and it was definitely a very bad time for anyone to be moving to Iran to live there.
Violent demonstrations in Tehran involving Muslim protesters who threatened the Shah of Iran and his family in 1978 were only going to get worse with time. Then a revolution subsequently broke out, and Iranian college students took over the United States Embassy and took Americans hostage in 1979. The Shah of Iran was deposed and a maniac known as the Ayatollah Khomeini established a military dictatorship over that entire nation. The Ayatollah Khomeini did nothing to hide the fact that he hated Americans. The American hostages were freed and returned to the United States of America safely in January of 1981. By then, a violent war had broken out between Iran and Iraq.
It is bewildering to me and beyond my comprehension why the late Dr. Mahmoody would want to take his wife and their daughter to Iran only three years later. He had to have known that his family was going to hold his wife's nationality against her. The American Federal government was supplying arms to the Iraqis back then. Therefore, he knew that there could be Iranians that expressed hostility against his wife for something like that. The ongoing war also did not make Iran a conducive environment to be raising children, and his daughter, Mahtob, had been ripped away from everything that she had known.
There was simply nothing sensible about the late Dr. Mahmoody bringing his wife and their daughter to Iran. Moreover, Betty has even stated in interviews that she never really wanted to travel to Iran in the first place, especially with a little girl, and that the late Dr. Mahmoody had placed a great amount of pressure on her to do so.
The late Dr. Mahmoody does state in his interview in the above-described 90-minute documentary that one of the reasons that he wanted to return to Iran in 1984 was because he was in the medical field and he wanted to treat the wounded Iranian soldiers who were fighting in his nation's war against Iraq. Even though his excuse for wanting to go back to Iran sounds noble, it still doesn't explain why he would allow for Betty and their daughter, Mahtob, to be put in ongoing danger. He could not have been completely oblivious to the chaos into which he was dragging them back then.
The late Dr. Mahmoody gives the impression of a pleasant individual who truly loved and cared about his daughter and wanted nothing more than to be reunited with her. However, his decisions indicate that perhaps he didn't have the best interest of Betty and their daughter at heart when he pressured them into coming with him to Iran back in 1984.
It could also be that perhaps everything that Betty accused him of was true, but it was not until he was approaching the bitter end that he realized that he had made a very big mistake in coercing her and their daughter to travel with him to Iran in 1984 and ultimately he was having regrets for having done something so foolish that backfired on him in the long run. In my humble opinion, I do believe that he really did love his daughter and wanted to reconnect with her so that he could make up to her for any pain that he may have felt that he had caused her. I do not believe that he was an evil man from an overall perspective, and I'm optimistic that he sincerely wanted for his daughter, Mahtob, to give him a second chance to be in her life again as her father.
Unfortunately, the late Dr. Mahmoody may have allowed for anger-management issues of his to get the best of him and it cost him his marriage and his paternal rights, among other things. If he indeed was innocent of everything that his ex-wife accused him of in Iran, then I can only feel sadness and compassion for the way that he was treated in the whole situation.
The interesting point that was made in the above-described 90-minute documentary about the late Dr. Mahmoody was that William Hoffer, the person who co-wrote the book titled Not Without My Daughter with Betty, was Jewish and appeared to have a xenophobic viewpoint of Islamic nations. It was further reported that Mr. Hoffer was also the co-author of the book titled Midnight Express and that the events he described therein differed diametrically from how they occurred in real life. Mr. Hoffer was then criticized for having an Islamophobic perspective of both Iranian and Turkish people.
In the above-described 90-minute documentary, the late Dr. Mahmoody did not strike me as being someone who would ever become violent or abusive with anyone. Then again, I have never known the man personally. Therefore, it could very well be that he was someone who was talented at putting up appearances whenever he needed to rise to the occasion. I want to give this man the benefit of the doubt, but not even his own daughter, Mahtob, has backed him up on his pleas of innocence against her mother, Betty, to this very day.
Mahtob Mahmoody's Recollection of Events in Iran Mirrored That of Her Mother, Betty Mahmoody
I was curious to know what the daughter of Betty Mahmoody and the late Dr. Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody, Mahtob Mahmoody, had to say about everything that her parents had stated in interviews to different people about the events in Iran involving them between 1984 and 1986. I thought that perhaps Mahtob's description of such events would shed some light on what really happened with her and her parents in Iran back between 1984 and 1986. Below is a video of Mahtob providing an interview in this regard.
Mahtob Mahmoody Recalls How Her Father Treated Her and Her Mother
In her interview above, Mahtob speaks about the importance of her forgiving her father, the late Dr. Mahmoody, for the way that he mistreated her and her mother while they were together in Iran between 1984 and 1986. Nowhere in that same interview does Mahtob complain that her mother, Betty, lied about any of her accusations against the late Dr. Mahmoody. Mahtob's description of such events mirrors that of her mother, Betty.
In the above interview, Mahtob states that her father became aggressive and violent on the day that he told her and her mother, Betty, that they could not return to the United States of America and that they were there in Iran to stay forever. Mahtob does not specify whether her father directed that violence solely against her mother or whether he also directed it against her.
Nevertheless, Mahtob was only four years old back then in 1984; and I can emphatically attest that whenever you are that young and a trusted adult lashes out against you in a violent and abusive manner, you never forget about it no matter how old you get. You may forget about a number of incidents from when you were that young as time marches on, but you will never forget something like that.
In interviews of her, Betty has described Iran as a place where someone like Gloria Steinem would not be well-received and probably would not even be let into that country at all back in the 1980s. When the Ayatollah Khomeini began releasing American hostages in late November of 1979 in the form of women and minorities, he claimed that he did so because he did not want the world to view him as a misogynist or a racist. However, Betty was not inaccurate to allege that Iran was anything but a nation that encouraged feminism back when the Ayatollah Khomeini was in power there, because their society had transformed into a patriarchy after the Shah of Iran was deposed.
Women had more rights in Iran when the Shah of Iran was still on the throne than they did after their nation had become an Islamic republic. In fact, I had even known this one American woman who had lived in Iran when the Shah of Iran was still in power, and she told me that she felt that it was safe for a woman to walk anywhere alone at night back then inasmuch as the Iranian authorities were intolerant to violent crime in those days. She added that she liked living in Iran back then, because she was able to walk anywhere at night in Tehran and nobody would bother her in that it was the safest place she had ever lived.
Mahtob does nothing in her interview above to counter any of her mother's claims about the degrading way women were treated in Iran back when she and her mother were there. She does show her gratitude toward the Iranians who helped her and her mother escape from that nation and from her father's control.
In the interview above, Mahtob reports that her father, the late Dr. Mahmoody, threatened to kill her mother, Betty, and to kidnap Mahtob back to Iran if Mahtob and her mother were ever to flee Iran to return to the United States of America. It could explain why Mahtob never chose to communicate with her father when he had repeatedly attempted to contact her from Iran and later on from Finland over the telephone not too long before he died.
Some of you may ask me whether it could be possible that Betty brainwashed her daughter, Mahtob, into believing that her father, the late Dr. Mahmoody, was an evil person who had committed all of the transgressions Betty had accused him of doing against her and her daughter during their time in Iran. I believe that the interview above with Mahtob took place in 2016, but don't hold me to it. If so, it would have put her in her late thirties back then, and I seriously doubt that a 30-something-year-old woman would not have come to the realization by then that she had been brainwashed during her childhood.
In the interview above, Mahtob does not appear to harbor any hostility against her late father. As a matter of fact, she acknowledges that he did love her and that he was not a monster altogether. If anything had kept her from responding back to his attempts to get in contact with her not too long before he died, it was the fear that she still likely felt of him. If he had some way of reassuring her that he would not have lashed out in violence against her or her mother in any manner, I am sure that she would have agreed to speak with him once again after all those years and even meet up with him. She did still view him as her father.
Who Is Telling the Truth?
The late Dr. Sayyed Bozorg Mahmoody pleaded in an on-camera interview that his ex-wife, Betty Mahmoody, was always looking to make a fortune off of her story of abuse and imprisonment in Iran once she and their daughter, Mahtob, were to return to the United States of America. He calls Betty a liar with dollar signs in her eyes and an eagerness to pursue what she perceived to be the American dream.
Betty has always presented herself on camera as someone decent, honest, and ethical whenever she has recounted all the events in Iran between 1984 and 1986 that led up to her final escape with her daughter from her husband's control and abuse and from Iran. What is so disturbing here is that both Betty and the late Dr. Mahmoody impress upon me as nice people who would never set out to hurt anyone, even their enemies.
Nevertheless, the concern here is not how nice Betty or her ex-husband, the late Dr. Mahmoody, are but rather who is telling the truth. They both could not have been telling the truth all these years. Therefore, we have to consider all the facts to determine whose story deserves credence.
Mahtob has backed up Betty's story on more than enough occasions for us to know that Betty has probably not been lying whenever she sets forth her side of the story to whoever is interested in it. It is not to say that the late Dr. Mahmoody was an evil person. He clearly had emotional issues, and he did not deal with them in the most reasonable way. Sadly, it all caught up with him and he died a very lonely man.
If the late Dr. Mahmoody had been able to go back through time and undo all of the terrible things that he did to his ex-wife and their daughter, I'm sure that he would have jumped at such an opportunity. Even though he may have had the less accurate story to tell than that of Betty, there can no doubt that he sincerely wanted to reconnect with his daughter, Mahtob, and make things right between them.
Let it be a lesson to all of us that we must make our choices and decisions wisely so that we don't have regrets about them further down the road as the late Dr. Mahmoody obviously did about his. If he had just admitted that he had done wrong and even gone as far as apologizing to Betty and Mahtob and offering to atone for his transgressions against them, perhaps his attempt to reconnect with his daughter, Mahtob, would have had a much better outcome than it did.
It turned out to be a sad situation for everyone involved, even though Betty and her daughter, Mahtob, were able to escape the dangers they had encountered in Iran. Fortunately, Betty and Mahtob have been able to move on with their lives successfully and put their tragedy behind them. I only wish both of them all the best in life. They are brave women.
Take all of the information herein and judge for yourself what you believe happened with the Mahmoodys in Iran between 1984 and 1986. I would like to believe what the late Dr. Mahmoody stated in his interview in the 90-minute documentary titled Without My Daughter. However, all evidence shows Betty to be more credible than him.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Jason B Truth