Iran needs to be shown that it cannot win through aggression - editorial

Salman Rushdie, against whom a kill order was issued, was stabbed in the neck over the weekend.

 FILE PHOTO: Author Salman Rushdie arrives for the PEN New England's Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, US September 19, 2016. (photo credit: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER/FILE PHOTO)
FILE PHOTO: Author Salman Rushdie arrives for the PEN New England's Song Lyrics of Literary Excellence Award ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts, US September 19, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER/FILE PHOTO)

On Friday, Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born novelist who spent years in hiding after Iran urged Muslims to kill him because of his writing, was stabbed in the neck and torso at a lecture in New York State. He was airlifted to a hospital, was placed on a ventilator and was said to be in serious condition.

Stunned attendees helped wrest the man from Rushdie, who had fallen to the floor. A New York State Police trooper providing security at the event arrested the attacker. Police identified the suspect as Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from Fairview, New Jersey, who bought a pass to the event.

Matar reportedly was caught carrying a fake driver’s license with the name Hassan Mughniyah. The first name is the same as Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, and the last name is the same as Imad Mughniyah, the Hezbollah military commander killed in a CIA-Mossad operation in 2008.

The attempt on Rushdie’s life was made just days after the United States Justice Department announced that it was indicting a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for attempting to hire hit men to murder former national security advisor John Bolton in an apparent retaliation attempt for the January 2020 assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani.

Shahram Poursafi, aka Mehdi Rezayi, a resident of Tehran, attempted to pay individuals in the US $300,000 to murder Bolton in Washington or Maryland on behalf of the Quds Force, according to court documents.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (not pictured), in Tehran, Iran July 19, 2022. (credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (not pictured), in Tehran, Iran July 19, 2022. (credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)

“The Justice Department has the solemn duty to defend our citizens from hostile governments who seek to hurt or kill them,” said Assistant Attorney-General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “This is not the first time we have uncovered Iranian plots to exact revenge against individuals on US soil – and we will work tirelessly to expose and disrupt every one of these efforts.”

“Iran has a history of plotting to assassinate individuals in the US it deems a threat, but the US government has a longer history of holding accountable those who threaten the safety of our citizens,” said Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch.

“Let there be no doubt: The FBI, the US government, and our partners remain vigilant in the fight against such threats here in the US and overseas.”

Executive Assistant Director Larissa Knapp

The Iran deal

These two plots, connected to or, at the very least, inspired by Iran are not a coincidence. They come as America and the European Union try – once again – to overcome differences and reach an agreement to renew the 2015 nuclear deal known as the JCPOA.

Think about this for a moment: As Iranian envoys are sitting across from their European and American counterparts in Vienna, other Iranians are plotting ways to assassinate and kill people on American soil. The fact that the JCPOA says nothing about Iranian terrorist support and activities should be enough of a reason why such a deal cannot be renewed.

Iran operated with impunity and thinks that it can continue to do so. It must believe that plots like these will make the Biden administration even more desperate to reach a deal with it over the ayatollahs’ illicit nuclear program.

This is why it is imperative that President Joe Biden use what was revealed just this past week as a reason to toughen the US position and make clear to the Iranians that threats and violence will not succeed.

Iran has shown in the past that when facing a genuine threat, it acts rationally and takes steps to preserve its regime. There is no reason to believe that it will not do the same now if presented with a clear threat of military action or even severe sanctions by the US, the EU and the other members of the P5+1.

Iran needs to learn that it will not win through aggression – in this case two murderous plots on American soil in the span of just a few days.

If that lesson is not transmitted now, this will be a missed opportunity that will lead to disaster at a later date. Don’t let that happen.