Iranian Statesman. Born Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, he served as President of Iran from August 3, 1989 to August 3, 1997. He moved to Shi'te holy city of Qom in 1948 to pursue his religious studies and by 1958, had became a disciple of Ruhollah Khomeini. He later became a hojatoleslam, the second highest rank in the Shi'te sect. He, like Khomeini, opposed the moderization policy of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. When Khomeini was expelled from Iran in 1962, he was Khomeini's chief fund-raiser inside the country. He was imprisoned from 1975 to 1978 on charges of links with left-wing terrorists. After the overthrow of the Shah and the return of Khomeini in 1979, he became one of Khomeini's chief lieutenants. He was elected to the Majles ( Islamic Consultative Assembly) in 1980 and was named as its speaker that same year. In this position, he became the second most powerful individual in the country. During the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, he was involved in its prosecution and in 1989 he helped to persuade Khomeini to accept a ceasefire with Iraq. After Khomeini's death in June of 1989, he assumed the office of president, a post he would hold hold until 1997. During his presidency, he expanded the powers of the post, tried to reduce Iran's international isolation, implemented family-planning practices, and tried to be more tolerant of criticism. After leaving the presidency, he remained active in national politics, serving in various posts. In 1997 during the Mykonos trial, he, along with several other top Iranian leaders, was declared complicit in the assassination of several Iranian dissident opposition activists in Europe. He was considered to be one of the richest individuals in Iran. He tried to regain the presidency in 2005 and 2013, but was not successful. He passed away after suffering a heart attack.
Bio by: Mr. Badger Hawkeye