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The father of Washington Institute Senior Fellow Mehdi Khalaji, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Khalaji, was arrested in Qom yesterday by Iranian Ministry of Intelligence agents:

The family has no information about where Ayatollah Khalaji is being held, and Iranian officials have not provided any further information about his arrest or detention. Ayatollah Khalaji and his wife, with Mehdi's daughter, were planning to depart Iran for Dubai to seek visas to visit the United States in March.

Ayatollah Khalaji, sixty-one years old, was once arrested by the shah as a revolutionary agitator and, following the 1979 Islamic Revolution, welcomed Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Qom -- the heart of Iran's religious clerical establishment -- on behalf of the city's residents. Recently, Ayatollah Khalaji had been deeply concerned by the violent clashes occurring in his country and had advocated a peaceful resolution of conflict between the Iranian regime and domestic protesters. Although a prominent cleric and influential orator across Iran, he has never held an official position in the Islamic Republic.

RealClearWorld has enjoyed a close relationship with the Institute, and Mehdi did us the honor of speaking on a panel we co-sponsored with WINEP back in June prior to the post-Iranian election turmoil.

Our thoughts, prayers and support go out to Mehdi and his family.