Near East Operations – #16 – Agent “Missionary” in Iran


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This CIA declassified document was recovered from the internet archive. It was declassified in 2004.

This document is titled Near East #16. It is from:


Chief of Geographic Section – Gordon Loud

Project Officer – Wilson Thomas Moore Beale

Director David K.E. Bruce


From the document – the main ideas:



1. To establish an agent at Tabriz, Iran, in order to secure information on developments in that Russian- occupied area.

2. To set up an information network which can furnish reports on transportation across the Russian frontier , the development of the Tehran-Tabriz railway-, the condition of roads, the quantity and variety of shipments across the border, etc .

3. To secure data on the attitude of tribes in the area with special reference to the Allied war effort, i.e.  the native attitude toward Russians, British, Americans and toward the central government of Iran itself.

4. To provide information on intertribal relations and partictularly on the extent , quality and background of the reported Kurdish uprisings.

5. To uncover, if possible the methods and activities of enemy agents in the area, and to discover means of counteracting their influence .

6. To study the effects of enemy and allied propaganda on the inhabitants of the area and to make recommendations for improving the latter and neutralizing the former.


The agent is a young minister who spent the early part of his life in Persia with his missionary parents .

Although he has been in America since the last war he has kept up his languages and speaks good Syriac (Assyrian), two forms of Turkish, Persian,
fair Kurdish and French, and a little Russian and Armenian. He would be able to brush these up on the field. Although he has not hither to been a missionary, having served as a chaplain for the c.c.c. and subsequently as pastor of a strong western church, one of the leading Boards of Foreign Missions has offered him an appointment, which he has accepted. The agent will take the course at the SA/B school and then will be sent out by the Board as a missionary to northern Iran, with which area he is thoroughly familiar.


This “Board” insisted that the agent receive NO funds directly from the OSS, but that they could make a “donation” to the Board if they wished. They also insisted that the “connection of the agent with SA/B” must not be allowed to have his fellow missionaries know about. That was particularly stipulated by the official of this “Board”, and also that this agent must not visit Washington very frequently at all, and even then it should be “explained” as having something to do with passports and travel arrangements.

I believe the “Board” is referring to the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, and after doing some sleuthing, I believe this is T. Cuyler Young Senior (not to be confused with his son who had a similar archaeology career).

Especially since this book, lists him as an “educational missionary” and mentions his involvement with lend-lease aid.

This news article specifically refers to him as a “Presbyterian missionary”.



T._Cuyler_Young_presbyterian_missionary .

There’s also this, from a Jstor article.



Another couple of people seem to have also been in OSS Iran, so I will include them as well.

Both of these would certainly have worked with this “young” agent since they moved in the same circles.

Edwin Wright (he’s on the OSS personnel list as Edwin M. Wright) during World War II served with the Office of Strategic Services and U.S. Army Intelligence, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.Born in Tabriz, Iran, in 1897 of American missionary parents. He trained as a teacher and a minister, earning an AB degree at the College of Wooster (1918) and a BD degree from McCormick Theological Seminary (1921). He was an ordained Presbyterian minister who, after World War I, had worked for 3 years in Iraq among the Armenian, Assyrian, and Chaldean refugees of that conflict, and then settled in for 13 years of teaching in American missionary schools in Iran. In 1938 he returned to the U.S. for graduate studies at Columbia University in Middle Eastern history and languages, and emerged speaking and reading Farsi, Turkish, Armenian, some Kurdish, and Arabic.

That was just in time for World War II, when he took his first-hand familiarity with the languages, peoples, and terrain of Iran to the Pentagon. There, and back in Iran, he helped plan, negotiate, and implement the incredible sea and land supply line that poured American arms, munitions, and food into the Soviet Union in time to keep the vital southern front from collapsing in the face of Hitler’s all-out onslaught on Stalingrad. At the end of the war he was Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Wright of the OSS.

Another man with essentially the same duties assigned to him as this document states, was Major Clinton Louis Olson 1944-1945 Office of Strategic Services, Tehran, Serial #375961, His work assignment was the supply line to USSR, Economic Intelligence duties, USSR Activities.

Interview with Olson –

Q: What type of work were you doing?
OLSON: I was in Secret Intelligence, SI.
Q: Against whom?
OLSON: Against the Russians. Supposedly, I was looking for Germans in Iran, but most of them had been eradicated and so what I ended up doing largely was Economic Intelligence in Iran. I was undercover part of the time. I had a cover job, as Fiscal Advisorto the Persian Gulf Command.
Q: What were you looking at in Intelligence? You say economic intelligence – whose economic activities and what sort of things were you looking at?
OLSON: We were just looking at what the Russians were up to, primarily. Spying on the Russians’s activities.


They had to change the agent’s cover, as per the document:

Because circumstances forced the making of cover arrangements other than those originally planned, a revision of the proposal has been required. Its center of operation is now Kermanshah instead of Tabriz.

He will still be able to establish connections in northwest Iran and along the Russian frontier as was originally contemplated.
Instead of being assigned to the mission in Tabriz, the agent will be assistant director of an orphanage, farm and industrial school on the outskirts of Kermanshah. The need for his services there is real and his connections are well-established.

…Because of his experience and knowledge of languages the agent may be depended upon to penet rate to areas which are normally difficult of access . Rezaieh, Shahpur , Tabriz and Maragheh, coul d be covered, as well as the area between Kermanshah and Teheran. He will have much greater mobility than under the former plan.


Document details

DATE: signed no date


NAMES mentioned:

  • David K.E. Bruce – Director or Chief of the OSS SI (Special Intelligence) division 1942.
  • Wilson Thomas Moore Beale – Project Officer, 1943. “Doctor” Wilson Thomas Moore, of Philadelphia, attended Princeton in 1899. [Ref: Princeton University Catalogue By Princeton University] 
  • Gordon Loud – Chief of Geographic Section (Near East)


Other Images and People


David K.E. Bruce

                                Dr. Wilson T.M. Beale
Dr._Wilson_T.M._Beale_-_September_27,_1939_Phil_Inquirer Wilson_Thomas_Moore_Beale_as_a_young_boy


Gordon Loud
OSS Gordon_Loud_-_1930


Images and PDF files


For those who don’t know – OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition and when that is done on images, it makes it so you can search the images for certain words or phrases that you are looking for.

Here is an OCR’d PDF file of all the pages of this document.

Near East Operations 16 – Agent Missionary in Iran


Following are the individual images of the document, for those who prefer to look at them that way.

(click to enlarge)







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