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Tipsheet

We Now Know More About Who Was Behind the Attack on Salman Rushdie

Grant Pollard/Invision/AP

Salman Rushdie was the victim of an attempted assassination during an event at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York on August 12. The Satanic Verses author was stabbed 10-15 times and was rushed to hospital in critical condition. He was placed on a ventilator with severed nerves in his arm and liver damage. The trauma to his eye is severe enough that he might lose it. Rushdie has been living under the threat of violence ever since he published The Satanic Verses in 1988, which has fictionalized accounts of the life of the Prophet Muhammed. It set the Muslim world ablaze in anger as they consider Rushdie’s work blasphemous. 

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Then-Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued his infamous 1989 fatwa against Rushdie and anyone involved in the publication of this work. This religious-based death warrant has been acted upon multiple times, with the 1991 murder of a Japanese translator of Rushdie’s work and the stabbing of an Italian translator who survived. Rushdie was taken off the ventilator this past weekend and is on the long road to recovery, according to his agent. 

Who was behind this attack? Rushdie’s would-be assassin, Hadi Matar, entered a plea of not guilty on August 13 to the second-degree attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon charge. As Spencer noted, Iran’s current supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, declared that the original fatwa was still in effect in 2005. The radical Islamic world wants Rushdie dead; they could have succeeded last Friday. This stabbing isn’t the first assassination attempt against Rushdie either, but who was behind this? Was it Iran? 

Matar is reportedly a Shiite extremist who might have had contact with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Crops, a terrorist organization. Iran, plus their state-sponsored terror arm, the original fatwa, and Rushdie—it’s a connection that is only notable for its lack of incredulity. The only people who want Rushdie dead are Islamic extremists, not the Amish. Iran seems like a logical place to start digging (via Business Insider):

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Author Salman Rushdie is on "the road to recovery" after being stabbed roughly 10 times in an attack reports say may be connected to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

[…]

While no motive had been identified, reports from Vice and NBC News New York indicate the New Jersey resident is "sympathetic to Shia extremism" and may have ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The IRGC is an ideologically-driven branch of the Iranian Armed Forces intended to protect the country's Islamic republic political system. It is considered a terrorist organization by the governments of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.

[…]

European and Middle Eastern intelligence officials told VICE World News Matar had been in direct contact with members of the IRGC on social media but did not specify who initiated the contact, when it took place, or what was discussed.

NBC News New York reported a preliminary law enforcement review of Matar's social media accounts indicated he followed IRGC causes.

A NATO counter-terrorism official told VICE World News the stabbing presented with the hallmarks of a "guided" attack, where an intelligence service — such as the IRGC — talks a supporter into violence without direct involvement in the incident itself.

"A 24-year-old born in the United States did not come up with Salman Rushdie as a target on his own," a Middle Eastern intelligence official told VICE World News. "Even an avid consumer of Iranian propaganda would have some difficulty finding references to Rushdie compared to all the other, modern enemies, designated by the regime."

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Meanwhile, some liberal media members remain lost in the clouds.

And of course, Iran denies involvement but also endorsed the assassination attempt (via AP):

An Iranian official Monday denied Tehran was involved in the stabbing of author Salman Rushdie, though he sought to justify the attack in the Islamic Republic’s first public comments on the bloodshed.

The remarks by Nasser Kanaani, the spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, came three days after Rushdie was wounded in New York state. The writer has been taken off a ventilator and is “on the road to recovery,” according to his agent.

[…]

“Regarding the attack against Salman Rushdie in America, we don’t consider anyone deserving reproach, blame or even condemnation, except for (Rushdie) himself and his supporters,” Kanaani said.

“In this regard, no one can blame the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added. “We believe that the insults made and the support he received was an insult against followers of all religions.”

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