Just as Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was attending the G7 Summit as a surprise guest of French President Emmanuel Macron over the weekend, he issued a fatwah against the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, an American think tank based in Washington, D.C.
"The Foreign Ministry has announced the sanctions on the FDD and its CEO based on a law titled 'Countering America’s Human Rights Violation and Adventurous and Terrorist Actions' passed by the Iranian Parliament in 2017," MEHR News Agency reported over the weekend. "Accordingly, taking any actions by the judicial and security apparatuses against the FDD and their Iranian and non-Iranian accomplices will be considered legitimate as their actions are against the Iran’s national security and the interests of Iranian people and government."
Iran is calling their action against FDD "sanctions," but as the think tank notes, the instruction to "security apparatuses" is a direct safety threat against its CEO, members and employees.
“FDD conducts independent research and analysis on national security issues. The Islamic Republic prohibits such freedoms at home, and would like to do so abroad as well. The Islamic Republic, which has occupied the great nation of Iran for four decades, continues to brutally repress the peoples of Iran, stealing their wealth and creating destruction and chaos in the Middle East," CEO Mark Dubowitz said in a released statement. "FDD considers its inclusion on any list put out by the regime as a badge of honor and looks forward to the day when Americans and others can visit a free and democratic Iran.”
Iran threatened possible action by its “security apparatuses” against @FDD. ?@mdubowitz? criticized Zarif “being welcomed” to Biarritz: “Trump & Macron should be making clear that further threats will lead to his banishment,” including from UNGA.” https://t.co/5mRpLMKiVa— Mark Dubowitz (@mdubowitz) August 25, 2019
This is a direct threat against @FDD, me and our Iranian and non-Iranian friends. These threats will only strengthen our resolve to research and reveal the truth about the regime in Iran, and to support the burning desire of the vast majority of Iranians for freedom. https://t.co/DXXrrsrwXe— Mark Dubowitz (@mdubowitz) August 24, 2019
The backlash against Zarif's threat has been bipartisan, with former Obama officials and opposing think tanks coming to FDD's defense.
Whether you agree or disagree with @FDD on Iran (I do both) or anything else, this kind of thuggish threat of violence against an American institution and those who work with it is unacceptable. Anyone who has access to Iranian officials needs to communicate that. https://t.co/pbNgUPFIkq— Dan Shapiro (@DanielBShapiro) August 24, 2019
In other words, Tehran has put an American think tank on a hit list, just as they once made a target of Salman Rushdie. Predictably lawless and thuggish behavior from the world’s leading state sponsor or terror, but no less terrifying because of it. https://t.co/MmAfsOSlKG— Bret Stephens (@BretStephensNYT) August 24, 2019
Iran policy provokes a lot of debate in Washington, but on this point, there should be unanimity: Foreign ministries shouldn't be in the business of siccing their govt's "security apparatus" on foreign NGOs. https://t.co/XqDwO1OZMf— Suzanne Maloney (@MaloneySuzanne) August 25, 2019
For those surprised that Iran’s regime is now directly threatening @FDD, don’t be. It follows a pattern for these terrorists. From assassinations in Europe to the Fatwa against Salman Rushdie, it fits a pattern. Iran’s leaders are rogues and criminals. Treat them as such.— Eli Lake (@EliLake) August 25, 2019
The U.S. State Department is also paying attention.
The outlaw regime in Iran issued a threat today against @FDD, an American think tank, and its CEO. The U.S. takes the regime’s threats seriously. We intend to hold Iran responsible for directly or indirectly compromising the safety of any American.— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) August 25, 2019