Was Iran behind Salman Rushdie’s assassination attempt in America?
The shocking attempt to assassinate writer Salman Rushdie last Friday in New York was not only a criminal attack on the author, but likely also an Iranian-inspired (and possibly Iranian-directed) act of terrorism. ).
Rushdie, after publishing the controversial 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses”, was targeted to death in a fatwa (or Islamic edict) issued in February 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Supreme Leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution.
Khomeini called on Muslims to kill the British-American novelist for blasphemy, as well as anyone involved in the publication of his book.
Iranian organizations, including many affiliated with the government, have put a $2.8 million bounty on Rushdie’s Head and forced him into hiding, under the protection of the British government. A Lebanese man who plotted to kill Rushdie with a book bomb accidentally blew himself up in a London hotel in August 1989 before he could apply the fatwa against the author.
The bookstores that sold “The Satanic Verses” were fire in the United States, United Kingdom, Norway and Australia. A Japanese translator of the book was murdered in 1991; an Italian translator and a Norwegian publisher were lucky enough to survive attempted murders.
Although the Iranian government claimed in 1998 that the fatwa would no longer be enforced, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who succeeded Khomeini as Iran’s supreme leader, has repeatedly insisted that the fatwa no longer applies. had not been cancelled.
In 2019, Twitter suspended Khamenei Twitter account after he tweeted that the fatwa against Rushdie was “irrevocable”.
Iran blames the victim
Iran’s Islamic regime has denied responsibility for the onstage stabbing of Rushdie, 75, as he began speaking in Chautauqua, New York, and accused the victim of instigating it.
Rushdie’s agent says the novelist suffered from a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and in an eye he would likely lose, The Associated Press reported. The writer was taken off a ventilator on Saturday.
A Iranian government spokesman said that Rushdie had insulted “the sanctity of Islam” and crossed “the red lines of over a billion and a half Muslims”.
Police are investigating whether Rushdie’s assassination attempt was Iranian-ordered or Iranian-inspired.
Rushdie’s attacker, identified by police as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, reportedly praised Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Shia extremist groups for his social media accounts. Although Matar was born and raised in the United States, his parents emigrated from Yaroun, Lebanon, a predominantly Shia village that is a hotbed of support for Iran’s Islamic revolution.
Unconfirmed reports alleged that Matar had been in “direct contact” online with members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but this information has not been publicly verified by authorities.
A key indication of Matar’s loyalty is the fake driving license he went by the name of Hassan Mughniyah, an alias combining the first name of Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and the surname of notorious Hezbollah terrorist leader Imad Mughniyah, who was killed in a covert CIA operation in 2008.
Mughniyah plotted numerous terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of Americans, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport that killed 241 Americans serving in peacekeeping operations in Lebanon.
Hezbollah terrorists from Mughniyah carried out this attack and many others in the direction of Iran.
Colonel Timothy Geraghty, commander of the marine unit that was bombed, later wrote that the National Security Agency had intercepted a message Iranian intelligence officials to the Iranian Ambassador in Damascus (a known terrorist), instructing him to order the attack on the Marines.
Iran’s foiled terrorist plots
Although Rushdie’s attacker has radicalized himself on the internet with little public contact with Iranian officials, his assassination attempt follows a string of other Iranian terror plots recently foiled in the United States.
The Department of Justice last week unsealed charges against a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for trying to organize the murder of the former White House national security adviser John Bolton at home in Maryland or at his office in Washington.
US officials have said the aborted plot against Bolton may have been retaliation for the US military’s January 2020 killing of General Qassem Soleimani, commander of Quds Force, the elite special operations branch of the Guardian Corps. the Islamic revolution, in a drone strike in Iraq.
Bolton is not the only former US official to have been targeted for assassination by Iran. Former Secretary of Defense Marc Hopeformer secretary of state Mike Pompeoand the State Department’s former Iran policy coordinator, Brian Hookalso received extensive Secret Service protection due to Iranian threats.
The Department of Homeland Security enhanced security in thousands of federal buildings after the Soleimani drone attack to protect against possible retaliation from Iran or Hezbollah, its main terrorist surrogate.
Iran has become more aggressive in seeking to terrorize Iranian dissidents on American soil. Earlier this month, New York police arrested an Iranian agent they believe was sent to kill Masih Alinejadan exiled political dissident.
Last year, the Justice Department indicted four Iranian intelligence officials and a California-resident co-conspirator for plot to kidnap Alinejad in New York and forcibly kidnapped him in Iran.
Part of a larger scheme
It would be a mistake to regard the attack on Rushdie as an isolated event. This is part of Tehran’s campaign to suppress freedom of speech and thought – not just in Iran but around the world – and part of Iran’s broader assault on the West and Western values. .
Terrorism expert Matthew Levitt, who has documented more than 100 Iranian operations on foreign soil to assassinate, kidnap or surveil potential targets, affirms“Iran perceives the potential benefits of such operations to be high, while the costs of getting caught are low and usually temporary.”
It is high time for the United States to increase the costs of these murderous covert operations for Iran in the form of economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation, travel bans, covert operations and military retaliation, if necessary.
Yet the Biden administration, focused on striking a flawed and risky nuclear deal with Iran, is unlikely to do so.
On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement who denounced the “heinous attack” on Rushdie.
“Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated over the attempt on his life. It’s despicable,” Blinken said.
But Blinken is continuing his misguided efforts to revive Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with that same “despicable” government.
Along with Iranian-orchestrated assassination attempts against U.S. officials, the Iranian-inspired attack on Rushdie is a wake-up call for the Biden administration regarding its policy of appeasement toward Iran.
Unfortunately, the administration is likely to hit the snooze alarm and go back to sleep.
This piece originally appeared in The daily signal