Suvarna Garge (Editor)

Mahtob Mahmoody

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Mahtob Mahmoody smiling while sitting on the chair and wearing a black  dress and her mother Betty Mahmoody also wearing a black dress

My Name Is Mahtob: A Daring Escape, a Life of Fear, and the Forgiveness That Set Me Free

Betty Mahmoody, Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody

Betty Mahmoody, Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody, Sheila Rosenthal, Alfred Molina, Sally Field

September 4, 1979 (age 41) Houston, Texas

Mahtob mahmoody the road to forgiveness

Mahtob Mahmoody (born September 4, 1979) is an American author who wrote the autobiographical memoir My Name is Mahtob, which depicts her perspective of her family's story when she and her mother, Betty Mahmoody, were held captive by her father, Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody, in his country of birth, Iran, for a period of 18 months during the mid-1980s. Her mother wrote her version of their story in her 1987 biography Not Without My Daughter, which was adapted into a 1991 feature film of the same name in which Mahtob was portrayed by Sheila Rosenthal and her parents were portrayed by Sally Field and Alfred Molina.


Mahtob Mahmoody smiling and wearing a black blouse while her mother Betty Mahmoody wearing a black blouse, necklace, and eyeglasses

Mahtob mahmoody endlich frei


Mahtob Mahmoody smiling and wearing a black blouse, eyeglasses, and green bracelet while her mother also wearing a black blouse

Mahtob was born to parents Betty and Sayed Bozorg "Moody" Mahmoody in Houston, Texas on September 4, 1979. Her first name means "Moonlight" in Persian. It was her father who named her that after he was inspired by a full moon that he saw. Mahtob has two half-brothers, Joe and Jim, who are Betty's sons from her first marriage. Mahtob and her parents lived in Texas and then in Michigan. She grew up in Alpena, Michigan.

Mahtob Mahmoody smiling while wearing a black blouse

On August 4, 1984, Mahtob and her parents arrived in Tehran to meet with Moody's relatives. Their stay was originally meant to have lasted two weeks, but Mahtob and Betty were held captive there by Moody for eighteen months. According to Mahtob, Betty suspected that Moody would keep them in Iran when he suggested that they visit, but she was afraid that if she said no to the trip he would kidnap their daughter. Mahtob stated in an interview with NPR:

Mahtob Mahmoody smiling while wearing a black and violet blouse and eyeglasses

So it was the night before we were to leave to return to America. Mom was packing. And there had been talk about our passports and our papers weren't in order and, you know, there were issues. But everything was going to work out. It was going to be all right. And then the night before we were to leave, we were in the bedroom. Mom was packing. And my dad came in and said that's it. We weren't leaving. We were in Iran until we died. And we were in his country. We had to abide by his rules. And from then on, he was a completely different person. To me, that's when my daddy died. You know, he was, from that moment on, completely changed.

Mahtob Mahmoody speaking with hand gestures while wearing a black blouse, eyeglasses, and green bracelet

Since Moody was an Iranian citizen by birth, he legally owned complete custody of Mahtob, who attended school; Betty was worried that Mahtob would learn anti-American sentiment at school. Mahtob also alleged that her father would physically beat her and her mother. After eighteen months, Mahtob and her mother managed to escape from Iran by crossing the mountains of Turkey. They successfully made it back to the United States and Mahtob never saw her father again. Six years after Moody's death in 2009, Mahtob has confirmed that she has forgiven her father for his actions.

When Mahtob was 13, she was diagnosed with lupus. She managed to survive the disease because of experimental treatment.

In 2015, Mahtob's memoir My Name is Mahtob was published. Though it depicts Mahtob's version of her family's story, My Name is Mahtob has been considered a sequel to her mother's book, Not Without My Daughter.


Mahtob Mahmoody Wikipedia