Once again, rumors have begun circulating that Iran’s top Muslim leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has died – but this time they might be true, informed sources say. Other reports say he collapsed on Monday and is now in a coma.

The Daily Telegraph quotes the anti-Iranian Realite EU news service, which itself cites “some reports,” to the effect that Iran’s Supreme Leader reportedly died on Wednesday, October 14, of natural causes, and that an official announcement is expected on Thursday morning.

Three years ago, similar rumors turned out to be false.

Khamenei, 70, was President of Iran from 1981 until 1989, at which point he became Iran’s Supreme Leader and the figurehead of its Islamic religious establishment. He is a strong supporter of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's policies, and was listed by the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists in 2000 as "one of the top ten enemies of the press and freedom of expression."

Some analysts say Khamenei has maneuvered to position his son, Mojtaba Khamenei, as his successor.