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Who died alongside Iranian President Raisi in the helicopter crash? | Political news

President Ebrahim Raisi, his foreign minister and other top officials are confirmed to have died in a helicopter crash after a long night of searching in thick fog and snow in the mountainous terrain of the rugged province from East Azerbaijan to Iran.

Their bodies were found Monday morning, hours after their helicopter crashed, state media reported.

The accident challenges the country’s top leadership as Iran finds itself amid heightened regional and global tensions centered on the war in Gaza.

Here’s a look at the officials who were killed:

Ebrahim Raïssi, Iranian president

The 63-year-old Iranian leader has long been seen as the successor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the country’s highest authority.

Raisi was a die-hard religious conservative with deep ties to Iran’s judiciary and religious elite.

While in his early 20s, he was appointed as a prosecutor in several cities until he landed a position in the capital, Tehran, to work as a deputy prosecutor in 1989.

His first attempt to win the presidency in 2017 failed, but he ultimately succeeded in 2021.

Raisi rose through the ranks over the years, becoming in 2016 president of Astan Quds Razavi (AQR), the largest religious foundation in Mashhad, which consolidated his status in the Iranian establishment. The AQR is a colossal bonyad, or charitable trust, that has billions of dollars in assets and is the custodian of the shrine of Imam Reza, the eighth Shiite imam.

But Iran’s last president has been the subject of controversy over the years.

In 1988, he was part of a committee overseeing a series of executions of political prisoners. This made him unpopular among the Iranian opposition and led the United States to impose sanctions on him.

More recently, he has been angered by the United States’ stance on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – and the failure of other signatories to save the agreement. As a result, he announced that Iran was increasing its nuclear program, but also said that Tehran was not interested in building a bomb.

Raisi was also a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, supporting his government’s war against the Syrian opposition, which has left hundreds of thousands dead.

He also led the country during the 2022 protests following the death of Mahsa Amini while in the custody of Iran’s morality police, a period during which the UN said Iran had committed crimes against humanity in its repression.

More recently, Raisi led Iran through a standoff with Israel over its ongoing war in Gaza.

Iran has spoken out openly against the war, as have its regional allies in the so-called “axis of resistance” to Israel and its Western allies.


Hossein Amirabdollahian, Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Iran’s top diplomat, who was with President Raisi in the helicopter that crashed, played an important role in changing Iran’s foreign policy from engagement with the West to improving relations with its regional neighbors.

Amirabdollahian, 60, has held several positions in the Iranian Foreign Ministry since 1997, including ambassador to Bahrain and deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs.

Raisi appointed him foreign minister after becoming president in 2021.

Amirabdollahian helped restore Iran’s diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia under a China-brokered deal and visited the kingdom in 2023, part of a major thaw in relations between the two countries.

Since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, Amirabdollahian has traveled the Middle East to coordinate with his allies, notably Hezbollah in Lebanon, and convey Iran’s positions to countries in the region.

He held a doctorate in international relations from the University of Tehran.


Malik Rahmati, governor of the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan

Malek Rahmati was recently appointed governor of East Azerbaijan province by the Iranian cabinet.

Before that, he had held several roles within the Iranian political system.

He had previously been appointed head of the Iranian Privatization Organization, as well as deputy director of the AQR.

Rahmati also headed the Razavi Economic Organization, established in the late 1990s to provide financial resources for the AQR; and board member and deputy director of the Kowsar Economic Organisation, an entity active in many economic sectors, including mining, agriculture and healthcare.

Rahmati had also held several other senior positions in the Iranian Interior Ministry.

Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Al-Hachem, representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader in East Azerbaijan

The representative of the Supreme Leader in East Azerbaijan province and imam of the city of Tabriz, Mohammad Ali Ale-Hashem, was also among those killed.

Ale-Hashim was also a member of the provincial chamber of the Council of Discernment and a provincial deputy in the Assembly of Experts.

Who else was killed?

Sardar Seyed Mehdi Mousavi, head of Raisi’s guard team, the helicopter pilot, Colonel Seyed Taher Mostafavi, the co-pilot, Colonel Mohsen Daryanush and the flight technician, Major Behrouz Ghadimi, also all perished. in the accident.

Aviation analyst Kyle Bailey told Al Jazeera that a lack of communication from the helicopter pilot or another member of the flight crew likely meant the crash was due to a “serious controllability issue” .

If a helicopter encounters a serious technical problem mid-flight, the pilot’s first task is to “keep the plane flying, and then communications come second,” he said.

Three men in flight suits looking at the camera
From left to right: technician Behrouz Ghadimi, pilot Seyed Taher Mostafavi and co-pilot Mohsen Daryanush, the crew of the helicopter that had Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on board and crashed in the Iranian province of East Azerbaijan on May 19, 2024 (document via Al Jazeera)

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News Source : www.aljazeera.com

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