As I put this article on from Damian Thompson over at the Telegraph, Jewish media is reporting that he is in a coma, so there is plenty of confusion at the moment:-
Is Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran dead? This is the story being put out this morning by Realite EU, a news service “supported by individuals concerned with the growing threat of Iran and extremism in Europe and the Middle East”. It is unconfirmed and turns out to be based on questionable sources:
According to numerous rumors, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reportedly died on October 14, 2009, of natural causes. The formal announcement is expected by some to be made tomorrow morning, October 15, 2009. Three years ago there were similar rumors which turned out to be false. He is currently 70 years old.
According to some Iran analysts, Khamenei has maneuvered to position his son, Mojtaba Khamenei, as his successor. Khamenei has increasingly been described as the “Ali of our times” in the official media – a reference to Ali, the Shia imam who passed on the position to his son Hassan.
The source cited is the highly partial website AntiMullah, which is now hedging its bets:
Some reports coming out of Iran deny the Supreme Leader has died or IS EVEN ILL!
Over the past month, rumors circulated that he was in a coma and his ruthless son Mojtaba was ruling (with Ahmadi-Nejad’s help) in his father’s name … Denial of Khamenei Senior’s death has to overcome some visible changes:
1. Government buildings are being draped in black cloth. (Reports on this come from multiple Twitters).
2. All Islamic Iranian TV announcers have suddenly turned to wearind all black clothing.
3. Bassiji Suppression forces have poured into the streets to enforce crowd control and prevent gatherings, which have not yet taken place.
4. The constant grumbling of clerics about the Supreme Ruler and efforts to replace him with a Ruling Committee have abruptly ceased.
Having him dead instead of the disruptive campaign to unseat him has solved their complaints and now they can go ahead with the “succession” process.
It took nearly two months from the time Ayatollah Khomeini went to hospital and fell into a coma till he was OFFICIALLY pronounced dead.
We shall see. Certainly this rumour is gathering pace as I write, but that doesn’t make it true.
Ledeen, who in addition to Iran specializes in Italian fascism and the Cold War, and worked as a consultant for various US government bodies, cites his “excellent” source as saying that on Monday, the Ayatollah collapsed and was taken to his “special clinic.” Since then, the only people allowed near him are his son and doctors. His status was reportedly “in the hands of the gods.”
Khamenei’s medical condition, says Ledeen, “had already seriously deteriorated over the last months, aggravated by his nervous condition due to his inability to solve the problems created by his manipulation of the election results and the refusal of a large part of the population to accept this,” as well as “his loss of religious authority by means of the repeated condemnations of events by senior clerics.”
“Speculation is… that he may not come out of his coma and/or that he may die very soon,” Ledeen further adds, which would immediately spark “a bloody clash” between the powers behind former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani, “who will immediately claim temporary religious authority and overall control,” and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “who will scramble in order to regain control and ensure their survival.”
Ledeen also updated his entry on Wednesday with news of rumors in the Teheran Bazaar that Khamenei died and a reportedly “abnormal atmosphere” in the city.
This story has been floating around the net for the past day or so, but this report comes from a person who is in a position to know such things. As I know very well (having been gulled into wrongly announcing Khamenei’s death a while back), it is easy to be misled, and Khamenei has had previous medical emergencies in the past, and recovered, but the source is excellent. Nonetheless, it’s always smart to apply the Reagan Caution: Trust, but verify. I’m doing my best.
Here is what he/she says:
Yesterday afternoon 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.
His official, but secret, status is: “in the hands of the gods”.
Reportedly this collapse is natural. Many would like him to move to his
afterlife but reportedly the collapse was not ‘externally induced’
[no poisioning]. The few insiders who know about the collapse see
this development “as a gift from the gods”.
His condition had already seriously deteriorated over the last
months, aggravated by his nervous condition due to  his
inability to solve the problems created by his manipulation of the
election results and the refusal of [a large part of] the
population to accept this, plus  his loss of religious authority
by means of the repeated condemnations of events by senior clerics
Reportedly the principal aims of Khamenei of the last couple of
weeks, if not months, were to ensure  a positive reputation as
his legacy and  the physical survival of his family members and
their wealth, reportedly now largely in Syria and in Turkey (remember the truck convoy of $8.5 billion in cash and gold that was seized by the Turks?).
Outlook is uncertain but speculation is – considering that he is in
coma since more than 24 hours – that he may not come out of his coma and/or that he may die very soon.
If he dies it is expected that immediately a bloody clash will
develop between the powers behind Rafsanjani, who will immediately
claim temporary religious authority and overall control, and the
powers behind Achmadinejad who will scramble in order to regain
control and ensure their survival.
UPDATE (Wednesday Oct 14th): According to a bulletin from the Greens (Moussavi/Karroubi et al), there are widespread rumors in the Tehran Bazaar that Khamenei has died. The Greens say they cannot confirm it, but that there is an “abnormal atmosphere” in the streets, which almost certainly means there are more security people than usual.
The bazaar will apparently be closed tomorrow, and perhaps Friday as well, pending developments.
Iran’s blogosphere has been awash with rumors since Monday that the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has died.
The rumors, spread on the micro-blogging Web site Twitter and other sites across the county, have been given credence by claims that security forces have surrounded Khamenei’s home in Tehran, and that only the leader’s sons are allowed access to him.
There has, however, been no formal confirmation of the reports or any reference to them in Iran’s main news outlets.
The rumors were cited on a number of relatively prominent blogs in the United States on Wednesday.
This is not the first time that Khamenei’s health has been the subject of rumor; he has been said to have suffered from health problems for years. But these rumors have also had no formal confirmation.