AP NEWS
Related topics

Portraits Of Iran’s Leading Figures With AM-Iran-Khomeini, Bjt

November 9, 1986

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ The ruling clergy who have helped shape the strict Islamic Republic of Iran since the 1979 revolution are engaged in a struggle over who will control the country after ailing Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini dies. Following are portraits of Iran’s principal leaders.

---

AYATOLLAH RUHOLLAH MUSAVI KHOMEINI: A biography published by the Islamic Guidance Ministry describes the religious patriarch as the ″typical symbol of love for freedom and independence from servitude.″

He was born in 1900 into a religious family of four sons and three daughters in Khomein, near the holy city of Qom. He studied Islamic theology, astronomy, philosophy and mysticism and began teaching philosophy at the age of 27.

At Qom’s Faiziyeh school, Khomeini fiercely attacked the shah and his secret police in speeches. He was arrested in 1963 but was released after two months and sent into exile, first to Turkey in November 1964, then to the holy city of Najaf in Iraq and in 1978, to Paris. He returned to Iran in February 1979 after the shah fled, and the shah’s government collapsed days later.

He has a stooped figure with piercing eyes that stare disconcertingly. His voice is flat and unemotional, almost monotonous. But even in old age he has proven himself capable of speaking for more than an hour without notes.

He has a remarkable ability to keep internal feuds under control and does not take sides with any one group. All factions have one thing in common, absolute loyalty and respect for Khomeini.

---

GRAND AYATOLLAH HAJ SEYYED SHEIKH HUSSEIN ALI MONTAZERI NAJAFABADI: Montazeri, designated by Khomeini and the Council of Guardians as Khomeini’s successor, was born in 1922 in Najaf Abad in the central province of Isfahan. He was a student of Khomeini and was jailed several times under the shah.

Bespectacled, with a round amiable face that has prompted Iranians to call him ″the cat,″ he is the butt of many jokes that portray him as a naive man. Montazeri is considered the figure closest to Khomeini.

His rivals among the hard-liners are believed to have framed him by arresting his aide, Mehdi Hashemi, whose Global Islamic Movement was in charge of exporting the Islamic revolution. The hard-liners reportedly want to get rid of Montazeri before Khomeini dies. But Khomeini, who said Sunday the revolution would continue after his death, appears determined that Montazeri succeed him.

---

HOJATOLESLAM ALI AKBAR HASHEMI RAFSANJANI: He is the speaker of Parliament and perhaps the most powerful person in Iran after Khomeini. He was born in 1934 in Rafsanjan in the central province of Kerman, and studied theology under Khomeini in Qom. He was arrested for his criticim and activities against the monarchy.

In the early days of the revolution, Rafsanjani became a member of the Revolutionary Council and helped found the ruling Islamic Republican Party. In 1980, he escaped an assassination attempt by the underground Forqan group. He is now Khomeini’s representaive on the Supreme Defense Council.

Rafsanjani’s strength also stems from public appearances facilitated by his brother, Mohammad, the director of national radio and television. His plump, almost schoolboyish face, with a curl of hair protruding over the forehead from beneath his white turban, is projected elaborately as he delivers the weekly Friday prayer sermon.

Rafsanjani’s position in the power struggle is not clear. He sometimes backs the hard-liners and at other times the moderates.

---

PRESIDENT ALI KHAMENEI: The 47-year-old chairman of the Islamic Republican Party and head of the Supreme Defense Council has held several important posts since the revolution, including the powerful job of leading the Tehran Friday prayers.

He escaped an assassination attempt in 1981 when a booby-trapped tape recorder exploded in a Tehran mosque. His right arm and throat were injured. He now keeps his arm tucked in his clerical robe and there are reports he was blinded in one eye. His throat injury has made his deep and resonant voice more husky.

Khamenei was born in the northeastern city of Mashhad into a religious family. He became a disciple of Khomeini at the theology school in Qom. Khamenei has written several religious books and translations. He recently has been drawn to the Montazeri camp.

---

HOJATOLESLAM SEYYED MOHAMMAD MUSAVI KHOINIHA: He was born in Qazvin in 1945 and led militants who seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held American hostages for 444 days. Khoiniha, now Tehran prosecutor, is classified as a hard-liner and is one of the few who has made it known where he stands in the power struggle against the moderates. Khoiniha previously was in charge of Iranian pilgrims traveling to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, who have held several demonstrations in favor of the Islamic Republic.

His allies in the power struggle include Khomeini’s son, Ahmad, and Information Minister Hojatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi Rey Shahri, 40, a former religious president of the Revolutionary Military Courts.

---

AYATOLLAH ALI MESHKINI: Meshkini, 65, is president of the Assembly of Experts and father-in-law of Rey Shahri. Meshkini also is the temporary Friday prayer leader in Qom. His role in the hard-liners’ camp is not clear, but he is believed to back their fight for power.

AP RADIO
Update hourly