Is Khamenei Dead?

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There are numerous rumors circulating in the Internet which suggest that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is in a coma. Others say that he is already dead.

These rumors were started by an article in Pajamas Media. Entitled “Khamenei Said to be in Coma”; the article written by Michael Ledeen cites sources in Tehran. According to his sources:

“Yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) at 2.15PM local time, Khamenei collapsed and was taken to his special clinic. Nobody – except his son and the doctors – has since been allowed to get near him.”

Since then a number of Persian language blogs have also talked about Khamenei's death.

For now, this report should be treated as a rumor and nothing else. Mr. Ledeen already pronounced Ayatollah Khamenei dead three years ago in another one of his articles. His sources proved unreliable, something which can happen to anyone. Perhaps his new sources are more reliable. All we can do is wait and see. We have nothing to corroborate it with.

Furthermore, the Iranian blogsphere is a great source for those seeking opinion. But when it comes to news, it's extremely unreliable. Anyone can write a blog in Persian, and he/she could write it from anywhere. A good example is the source used for the story earlier this year by western press that during a visit to the city of Uumiyeh, shoes were thrown at President Ahmadinejad. The source used by the international press was a site in Iran called “Urumiyeh News." At first glance, the name sounds very credible. Many cities in Iran have their own news sites and they are run under a management which adheres to censorship laws. But in this case, when we look closer, we see that “Urumiyeh News” is nothing more than a blog - meaning the story could have been written by anyone.

Should Mr. Ledeen's story turn out to be true, the CIA should seriously consider giving him a senior post. Anyone who has access to sources in Iran who know Khamenei's exact whereabouts and the timing of his movement is to be taken very seriously. They should also ask Mr. Ledeen if his sources have any friends/relatives who work near or at a giant construction site in Qom, which glows at night. And while they are at it, if they manage to find Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's secret Bar Mitzvah pictures at The Western Wall, then they would make a lot of people at The Daily Telegraph very happy.

(AP Photos)

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