In 1989 Ayatollah Khomeni put out a hit on Salman Rushdie. He backed up the call for a hit with a $3,000,000 financial reward. Khomeni was of course the founder and Supreme Leader of the Iranian regime.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is Khomeni’s successor as the regime’s Supreme Leader. In 2005 he told Iranians that Rushdie is an apostate whose execution is authorized by Islam. In the words of Daniel Pipes, “Khameni reaffirmed Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1989 edict against Rushdie.” Pipes documents the persistence of the fatwa in Iranian eyes in this post covering the past 32 years.
Following the indictment of a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for seeking the assassination of former National Security Advisor John Bolton, the attempted assassination of Rushdie on American soil by a Muslim seeking to effectuate fatwa should prompt a serious response from the American president. A serious response would require the recognition of the nature of the regime and the fact that they are at war with us. It would also require the cessation efforts to arrive at any agreement that serves to enrich the regime.
In response to the indictment of the IRGC operative, Biden National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan issued this meaningless statement:
We have said this before and we will say it again: the Biden Administration will not waiver in protecting and defending all Americans against threats of violence and terrorism. Should Iran attack any of our citizens, to include those who continue to serve the United States or those who formerly served, Iran will face severe consequences. We will continue to bring to bear the full resources of the U.S. Government to protect Americans.
Sullivan could not be bothered to check on whether “waver” or “waiver” was called for. It’s one of those tricky homonyms. Unfortunately, only last week the administration “waivered” sanctions for Iran’s civilian nuclear activities.
In response to the Rushdie attack, the administration posted statement was issued in President Biden’s name without reference to Iran. It is an embarrassment.
Secretary of State Blinken went a little further in an unduly circumspect or circumlocutory statement:
While law enforcement officials continue to investigate the attack, I am reminded of the pernicious forces that seek to undermine these rights, including through hate speech and incitement to violence
Specifically, Iranian state institutions have incited violence against Rushdie for generations, and state-affiliated media recently gloated about the attempt on his life. This is despicable.
Blinken got the waver/waiver thing right (“The United States and partners will not waver in our determination to stand up to these threats”), so congratulations are in order on that point. But what we have here is more blah blah blah. It is not serious.
The editors of National Review have more here in an excellent editorial. Jonathan Tobin has more in his JNS column here, and a constructive suggestion to boot. The Spectator’s Stephen Daisley puts it this way: “The West cannot do business with Iran.”