Ebrahim Raisi: hard-line challenger in Iran

Raisi, a hard-line cleric close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has served in the country's judiciary for decades. He is also a member of the Assembly of Experts, an all-cleric body that will rule on Khamenei's succession. (AP)
Updated 14 April 2017
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Ebrahim Raisi: hard-line challenger in Iran

TEHRAN: Ebrahim Raisi is a hard-line judge who spent years in powerful backroom positions before emerging as a leading challenger for Iran’s presidential election next month.
Born into a religious family in the holy city of Mashhad on August 23, 1960, Raisi is a “seyed” whose geneology is said to lead back to the Prophet Muhammad.
Raisi’s father died when he was five, and he entered the seminary at an early age, excelling in his studies and moving to the seat of clerical learning in Qom in 1975.
After the 1979 revolution, he helped manage the border city of Masjed Suleiman, a hotbed of Marxists, before starting his judicial career in 1981 as a prosecutor in Karaj, and later Hamedan.
In 1985, he became a deputy prosecutor at the Revolutionary Court of Tehran in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war when thousands of political prisoners were executed.
Raisi spent a decade as head of the Inspection Office from 1993, followed by 10 years as deputy head of the judiciary. In 2006, he was elected to the Assembly of Experts that has powers to choose the next supreme leader, and now sits on its board of directors.
In 2012, he became a prosecutor in the Special Court of Clerics, charged with disciplining the clergy, and spent two years as Iran’s nationwide prosecutor-general from 2013 to 2015.
In March 2016, he was appointed by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to head Astan Qods Razavi, a charitable foundation overseeing the Imam Reza shrine, as well as a huge business conglomerate with interests in everything from IT and banking to construction and agriculture.
He is married to the daughter of Mashhad’s hard-line Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda.


Citizen journalist among 11 civilians killed in northwest Syria

Updated 7 min 21 sec ago
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Citizen journalist among 11 civilians killed in northwest Syria

  • Anas Al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets

KHAN SHEIKHUN: A young citizen journalist was among 11 civilians killed in air raids on Syria’s Idlib region Sunday, rescue workers and a monitor said, as he filmed the Russia-backed regime bombardment of the battered enclave.
Anas Al-Dyab, a photographer and videographer in his early 20s, was a member of the White Helmets who also contributed to AFP.
He was killed in Russian air strikes in the town of Khan Sheikhun, rescuers and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The White Helmets, rescue workers in rebel areas named after their distinctive hard hats, said the group “mourns the fall of a hero Anas Al-Dyab, a volunteer and media activist with the Syrian Civil Defense Center in Idlib,” in a Twitter post.
An AFP journalist saw White Helmet members gather to bid farewell to their friend, whose body was laid on a thick red blanket.
The Damascus regime and its Russian ally have stepped up their deadly bombardment of the jihadist-run region of Idlib since late April, despite a September buffer zone deal to protect the region of some three million people from a massive military assault.
Khan Sheikhun, a town in the south of Idlib, has been particularly hit, forcing thousands to flee their homes there, according to the United Nations.
But Dyab “chose to remain with his fellow volunteers in Khan Sheikhun till today,” the White Helmets said.
Raed Al-Saleh, the head of the White Helmets, said Dyab was killed while “trying to show the world what’s going on in Syria.”
“It’s a great loss,” he said.
Dyab, who was single, leaves behind his parents and three brothers, one of whom is held by the Damascus regime, Saleh said.
The Observatory said Dyab was hiding in the cellar of a three-story building with two members of the Jaish Al-Ezza rebel group when the strike happened.
Also on Sunday, regime air strikes killed 10 other civilians including three children in other parts of the bastion, said the Britain-based monitor, which relies on sources inside Syria for its information.
Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham in January took full administrative control of the Idlib region, although other jihadists and rebels are also present.
The Idlib region is supposed to be protected by a September 2018 deal between Russia and rebel backer Turkey, but a buffer zone planned under that accord was never fully implemented.
The White Helmets, who are backed by the West, were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016.
But Moscow and Damascus accuse the group of backing rebels and jihadists.
Syria’s war has killed a total of more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.