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Khomeini’s Son Is Dead; Was Enigma in Iranian Politics

March 17, 1995 GMT

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) _ Ahmad Khomeini, son of the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and an enigma in Iranian politics, died Friday. He was 50.

Khomeini ``left for heavenly abode today, plunging the nation into gloom,″ the official Islamic Republic News Agency said in announcing the death.

A cleric and politician, Khomeini had been in a coma for six days after suffering a massive cardiac arrest on Sunday. A 30-man medical team struggled to keep him alive at Baqiyatollah Hospital in north Tehran, but complications left his liver, kidneys and respiratory system malfunctioning.

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Khomeini was placed on a life support machine Thursday, and died Friday, Dr. Hassan Arefi, the head of Khomeini’s medical team, told IRNA, monitored in Cyprus.

Arefi was assisted by a British physician, identified as Dr. Simon Parsons, who flew to Tehran Sunday night.

After years of living in the shadow of his father, the younger Khomeini had been expected to try to seize power after the ayatollah’s death on June 3, 1989.

But he remained largely in the shadows, apparently seeking to act as a power broker rather than pursue the political ambitions he was known to harbor, and which his father had frustrated.

Since his father’s death, the middle-ranking Shiite Muslim cleric, known as a hojatoleslam, had been a member of the Supreme National Security Council, which oversees defense and state security policy.

Because of his name, the younger Khomeini had been expected to easily secure popular support for a political career. But he was outmaneuvered after his father’s death.

Hashemi Rafsanjani’s election as president on July 28, 1989, blocked Khomeini’s hope of attaining high political office. The appointment of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a Rafsanjani ally, to succeed Khomeini as Iran’s spiritual leader was another setback.

Ahmad Khomeini had been his father’s eyes and ears during their days in exile and through the Islamic revolution that toppled the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, which gave him considerable influence.

Khomeini returned to Tehran after 14 years in exile on Feb. 1, 1979, and 10 days later, the shah’s government collapsed and the Islamic republic was proclaimed.

As his father’s health failed, Ahmad Khomeini’s political ambitions heightened. But his father stifled them. In 1980, then-President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr proposed Ahmad as prime minister, but the ayatollah refused to allow his son to accept the post.

Many considered Ahmed Khomeini weak and easily influenced. His alliances, like many in Tehran politics, switched several times over the years.

Ahmad Khomeini was the younger of two sons. In 1974-75, the elder Khomeini, then in exile in Iraq, sent him and his brother Mostafa to Lebanon for military training with Palestinian guerrillas outside Tyre. Mostafa was killed in a car crash in Iraq in 1977.

Ahmad Khomeini is survived by a wife and three sons. Funeral plans were not immediately announced.