Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini

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Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini
Founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini (1902 - 1989) was a Shiite Muslim who took control of Iran after a revolution overthrew in 1979 one of the twin pillars of Western cooperative security arrangements in the Persian Gulf, the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. President Reagan criticized Khomeini as "a maniacal fanatic who has slaughtered thousands and thousands of people calling it executions."[1]

The Ayatollah came to power as part of US President Jimmy Carter's "Human Rights" policy. William Miller, chief of staff on the US Senate Intelligence Committee, said America had nothing to fear from Khomeini since he would be a progressive force for human rights. U.S. Ambassador William Sullivan compared Khomeini to Mahatma Gandhi.”

In 1979, the Ayatollah Khomeini created the Basij Mostazafan a mass movement of young people under 17 years of age. When the Iran-Iraq War started in 1980, Khomeini issued a fatwa and promise of paradise and they were incorporated into the Iranian military. The Iranian clergy took over command from the regular military leaders in mid-1982. In July 1982 Iran launched Operation Ramadan near Basra. The clergy used "human-wave" attacks calling for the young people from age 9 years old and up to move forward in human wave attacks to clear minefields so the regular Army could follow.[2] Matthias Küntzel quotes an Iraqi officer's description of one such encounter in the summer of 1982.

“They come toward our positions in huge hordes with their fists swinging...You can shoot down the first wave and then the second. But at some point the corpses are piling up in front of you, and all you want to do is scream and throw away your weapon. Those are human beings, after all! [3]

Other reports appeared in the Iranian daily newspaper Ettelaat and later an eyewitness gave an account to the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine in 2002. Some 100,000 were killed this way.

On April 5, 1984, US President Ronald Reagan issued a National Security Decision Directive (NSDD 139), saying the U.S. needed to stress

"the urgent need to dissuade Iran from continuing the ruthless and inhumane tactics which have characterized recent offensives." [4]

This played a large part in the humanitarian basis of Reagan's decision to help put the end of the Iran-Iraq War by the Iran-Contra affair and reestablish relations with an old longtime ally, Iran.

The Ayatollah held American hostages until President Carter, who had admitted the Shah into the United States for medical treatment, left the presidency on Jan. 20, 1981.

Khomeini died June 3, 1989. He held power in Iran until his death.

See also

Carter Doctrine


  1. The Second 1984 Presidential Debate
  2. Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), Iraqi Retreats, 1982-84, Globalsecruity.org, retrieved 20 March 2007.
  3. Ahmadinejad's Demons: A Child of the Revolution Takes Over, Matthias Küntzel, The New Republic, 24 April 2006 .
  4. NSDD 139, 5 April 1984.