Who was Iranian late President Ebrahim Raisi?


Monday, 20 May 2024 (18:10 IST)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash on May 19, 2024. For decades, he's played a crucial role in the country and was even seen as a frontrunner to succeed Ali Khamenei as Iran's Supreme Leader.
Born in 1960 into a strictly religious family in the country's second-largest city, Mashhad, Ebrahim Raisi underwent extensive theological training at Qom religious seminary at the young age of 15.
Rising through the ranks of power
He was about 18 years old when the Islamic Republic was established after the 1979 revolution and rapidly ascended through the ranks of power after that. He first was appointed prosecutor general of Karaj, a suburb of Tehran and eventually served as deputy prosecutor for all of Tehran.
Following the death of Iran's first Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in 1989, he was appointed prosecutor of Tehran.
A member of the 'Death Committee'
In 1988, due to internal political instability and the Iran-Iraq War, Iran's first Supreme Leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, ordered a brutal crackdown on dissidents and political prisoners.
Khomeini appointed Raisi to a committee responsible for deciding whether prisoners were disloyal to the government and should be executed. According human rights organization Amnesty International, at least 5,000 political prisoners were executed based on the decisions made by that committee.
This committee is referred to as the "Death Commission" by many opponents of the Islamic Republic, and Raisi was known as one of the main human rights violators due to his involvement in it. It also led to the United States imposing sanctions on him.
Moving into key judicial positions
Following Ali Khamenei's ascension to the position of Iran's second Supreme Leader in 1989, Raisi moved higher within Iran's judicial system.
After his tenure as prosecutor in Tehran, he served as the head of the country's inspection organization for ten years, followed by a ten-year period as the prosecutor general of the Special Court for the Clergy in Iran.
During his tenure as the first deputy to the chief justice from 2004 to 2014, Raisi played a pivotal role in the suppression of dissidents following the unrest that developed after the 2009 presidential election.
Raisi was a member of the Assembly of Experts from 2007 to his death, a council to select a successor for the Supreme Leader after his death.
Ebrahim Raisi was one of Ali Khamenei's confidants, and as a result, he was appointed in 2016 to oversee the shrine of the 8th Shiite Imam in Mashhad by Khamenei's directive. In this position, he had significant control over substantial financial resources.
Raisi becomes president
Ebrahim Raisi participated as a candidate in the 2017 presidential election, where he intensely criticized Hassan Rouhani and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement of Iran with Western countries. However, he was defeated by Hassan Rouhani in the election.
In February 2019, Raisi was appointed as the head of the judiciary in the Islamic Republic by Ali Khamenei.
In 2021, he once again entered the presidential election, and in the weeks leading up to the election, his most remarkable opponents were disqualified. With a voter turnout slightly below 50%, he secured a landslide victory.
Suppression of "Women, Life, Freedom"
Ebrahim Raisi's presidency lasted less than three years. During his term, the "Women, Life, Freedom" movement was brutally suppressed in Iran which resulted in the death of at least 500 people. Thousands of people were arrested and seven were executed for their roles in the protests.
A United Nations fact-finding mission concluded in March 2024 that Iran had committed crimes against humanity during the crackdown, including murder, torture, and rape.
Raisi also supported the attack of Hamas on Israel on October 7 as the president of Iran.
During his presidency, Iran directly attacked Israel for the first time on April 15, 2024 with more than 120 ballistic missiles, 170 drones and more than 30 cruise missiles. This attack was a reaction to the attack on the Iranian consulate building in Damascus in early April, killing seven people including a top commander and his deputy.
Raisi held a significant position within Iran's political structure, leading many to consider him, along with Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of Ali Khamenei, as the most prominent candidates to potentially succeed as the next leader of the Islamic Republic.

Read on Webdunia

Related Article