In the Shadows, Ayatollah's Son Calls the Shots
Mojtaba Khamenei has power throughout the security apparatus
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2009 9:28 AM CDT
A poster of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran. Behind his father, the rarely photographed Mojtaba Khamenei is said to be leading the crackdown on Iranian protesters.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
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(Newser) – Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rarely appears in public and cultivates a shadowy reputation—but even further out of the public eye, his son has become one of the post powerful men in Iran. Ultraconservative cleric Mojtaba Khamenei, believed to be around 50 years old, has connections throughout the Revolutionary Guards and the paramilitary Basij. As the Los Angeles Times reports, he has become his father's gatekeeper and is helping to orchestrate the crackdown.

Despite his clerical uniform, the younger Khamenei isn't a true theocrat: He's a post-revolutionary figure who was "raised in a house surrounded by intelligence services," according to one professor. He wants to succeed his father as supreme leader, although divisions within the clerical elite might make that difficult. Nevertheless, his power is unquestioned. Experts say he is the ayatollah's most trusted adviser, even though, as one journalist says, "nobody knows much about him."