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Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

(CNN) — Here is a look at Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.


Birth date: July 17, 1939

Birth place: Mashhad, Iran

Birth name: Seyyed Ali Khamenei

Father: Ayatollah Sayyid Jawad Husaini Khamenei

Mother: Name unavailable publicly

Marriage: Married in 1964

Children: Mostafa, Mojtaba, Massoud, Maysam, Hoda and Boshra

Education: Studied under the future Ayatollah Khomeini at the Islamic seminary in Qom, Iran

Religion: Islamic, Shiite Muslim

Other Facts

Also known as the Supreme Leader.


1962 – Along with Khomeini, begins his involvement with protests, opposing the policies of the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

1977Along with other clerics, forms the Combatant Clerics Association, which becomes the Islamic Republic Party.

1980-1987Secretary-general and member of the central command of the Islamic Republic Party.

June 1981 – Injured when a bomb placed in a tape recorder explodes at a press conference.

October 13, 1981-August 3, 1989 – President of Iran.

March 1985 – Survives when a suicide bomb detonates nearby.

June 4, 1989-present – Is provisionally elected supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the death of Khomeini.

July 28, 1989 – A referendum makes his election official, and a group of religious leaders later confirm his election as supreme leader.

May 2011 – Khamenei becomes locked in a public power struggle with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

February 2012 – Issues a statement that Iran will back any nation or group fighting against Israel.

March 2012 – Reacts to tensions involving Iran’s nuclear program and welcomes US President Barack Obama’s comment that “it is in the best interest of the United States, Israel and the world” to peacefully resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis.

March 2012 – Khamenei’s allies win about 75% of seats in parliamentary elections against rival Ahmadinejad’s opposition movement.

March 21, 2013 – Khamenei, in a televised speech, threatens Tel Aviv and Haifa by stating “at times the officials of the Zionist regime (Israel) threaten to launch a military invasion but they themselves know that if they make the slightest mistake the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”

January 2015 – Khamenei publishes an open letter to his website, directed at Western youths, asking them not to judge Islam based on the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks.

October 21, 2015 – Khamenei conditionally approves the nuclear deal signed between his country and six world powers in July.

February 7, 2017 – According to his website, Khamenei tells a gathering of Iran’s air force commanders in Tehran, “We however thank this new guy in the White House, since he largely did the job we had been trying to do in the past decades: to divulge the true face of the US. We had been working to show the world the depth of corruption in US government and ranks and files of the ruling elite; [US President Donald] Trump did it in few days after coming to the White House.”

January 9, 2018 – Speaking on the anniversary of the Iranian revolution that began in 1978, Khamenei says that Iranians have a right to protest. But he also blames the United States and Israel for the most recent civil unrest.

August 13, 2018 – In a speech published on his website, Khamenei says there would be “no war, nor will we negotiate with the United States,” following the Trump administration’s first wave of sanctions reimposed on Iran after the United States announced its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May. Khamenei seems to contradict Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who previously said that Iran was willing to hold talks with the United States to resolve the matter – something Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton dismissed as possible “propaganda.”

June 24, 2019 – Trump announces new sanctions against Iran in part to retaliate after the downing of a US drone, with the punitive measures set to target Khamenei, military officials and Iran’s top diplomat.

January 5, 2020 – Following the killing of Gen. Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad, Khamenei’s military adviser, Hassan Dehghan, says that his country’s “response for sure will be military and against military sites.”

January 17, 2020 – For the first time in eight years, Khamenei leads Friday prayers in Tehran, calling US officials “American clowns” in his defiant sermon.

November 28, 2020 – A day after the apparent assassination of Iran’s top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Khamenei vows revenge for his killing. Iran has blamed Israel for the attack and said the operation bore the hallmarks of Israel’s foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad.

January 8, 2021 – Khamenei bans the import of Covid-19 vaccines from the United States and Britain to Iran. In a state-run television appearance, he calls the vaccines untrustworthy.

June 25, 2021 Iran state television reports that Khamenei has received his first dose of the Iranian-developed Covid-19 vaccine, known as the CovIran Barekat vaccine. It was approved for use mid-June, according to Iranian authorities.

March 1, 2022 – In a televised speech, Khamenei accuses the US of causing the conflict in Ukraine, comparing the US government to a “mafia-like regime.”

February 9, 2024 – Meta confirms to CNN that Khamenei’s Facebook and Instagram accounts were removed for “repeatedly violating our Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy.” Though Meta did not give a specific reason, the policy does not allow organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence to have a presence on Meta.

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