- President Donald Trump in an announcement Monday said the US was imposing sanctions on Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini – who has been dead since 1989.
- The sanctions in fact apply to Iran’s current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The mix-up was seized upon by his critics.
- After the sanctions against Khamenei were announced, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Trump White House had “mental retardation.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump on Monday mistakenly named a supreme leader of Iran who has been dead since 1989 as the target of new US sanctions.
By mispronouncing one syllable in a press conference in the Oval Office, Trump said he was sanctioning “Ayatollah Khomeini” of Iran.
Khomeini ruled Iran as supreme leader from the Islamic Revolution in 1979 until his death in 1989.
In a video, Trump said (emphasis ours):
“Sanctions imposed through the executive order that I’m about to sign will deny the supreme leader and the supreme leader’s office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support. The assets of Ayatollah Khomeini and his office will not be spared from the sanctions.”
President Trump has just signed an executive order to deny Iran's Supreme Leader and his associates access to key financial resources and support. pic.twitter.com/14qE9iUe61
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 24, 2019
The one-syllable difference is somewhat less apparent when comparing the men’s full names: Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was the first ayatollah, and Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei is the second.
On Twitter, critics were quick to question the discrepancy.
Ayatollah Khomeini on his way to deliver a statement on his recent sanctions designation pic.twitter.com/wfAenWyc3L
— Murtaza M. Hussain (@MazMHussain) June 24, 2019
Trump says Ayatollah Khomeini, 30 years dead, will not be spared from the sanctions. Sanctions overreach into the afterlife: https://t.co/iVvstQIk0G
— Ryan Costello (@RyeCostello) June 24, 2019
Ayatollah Khomeini is trending because Trump is a moron. Helluva time to be alive. I look forward to the missile strikes against the Iron Sheik. He will retaliate with the Camel Clutch offensive.
— Wajahat "Wears a Mask Because of a Pandemic" Ali (@WajahatAli) June 25, 2019
The sanctions imposed Monday came amid escalating tensions between Iran and the US, with Trump ordering and then calling off airstrikes last week against Iran after it downed a US drone.
Targeting Iran’s head of state clearly touched a nerve.
In a Tuesday speech broadcast live on Iranian TV, Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, said the Trump White House had “mental retardation.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.