THE attempted murder last week in upstate New York of Salman Rushdie by an Islamist fanatic had the fingerprints of the ayatollahs all over it. The knife-wielding attacker praised the Iranian regime’s terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on his social media accounts. He was a purported fan of the ayatollahs' Shia clerical dictatorship and was clearly responding to the fatwa to kill Rushdie issued in 1989 by Iran’s supreme leader at that time, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Ali Khamenei, the current supreme leader, and other senior figures in the theocratic regime have vowed to implement the fatwa and set a bounty of $3.6 million on Rushdie’s head. Khamenei said in 1993: “Imam (Khomeini) shot an arrow towards this man who is a liar and a slanderer. His arrow has left the bow, and the targeting is accurate. Sooner or later, this arrow will hit the target. Indeed, his (death) sentence must be implemented, and it will be.”

The attempted murder of Rushdie came in the same week the US Government revealed that the Iranian regime had plotted to assassinate President Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton. According to the US Department of Justice, Shahram Poursafi, an IRGC officer, was allegedly offered $300,000 to “eliminate” Bolton. Poursafi is still at large. Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen said: “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.” It is thought that Tehran ordered the murder of Bolton in revenge for the drone attack in January 2020 which killed the IRGC terrorist general Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad Airport.

In July, a Swedish court imposed a life sentence on the Iranian executioner Hamid Noury for his involvement in the brutal massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in 1988. In their case against Noury, under universal jurisdiction, the Swedish judiciary cited evidence that thousands of political prisoners who supported the main opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/Mojahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK), were executed between July 30 and August 16, 1988 in the Gohardasht prison in Karaj, Iran, where Noury was assistant to the deputy prosecutor, Ebrahim Raisi, now the president of Iran.

The Swedish prosecutors gathered extensive evidence from witnesses and survivors of the 1988 massacre. Witness after witness recounted how Noury helped with the selection of PMOI/MEK prisoners who were brought before a summary court and asked by Raisi if they still supported the Mojahedin. If, during an arbitrary two-minute hearing, they answered "Yes", they were immediately sentenced to execution, blindfolded and led to the "death corridor" by Noury, where he would order them to stand in line, sometimes for hours, before escorting them to the execution chamber, where they would be made to watch other prisoners being hanged in batches of 10, before being executed themselves. Noury often attended and participated in the hanging of prisoners. One witness survived to provide testimony because he had fainted at the sight of his fellow prisoners being hanged.

Noury’s conviction for crimes against humanity came hot on the heels of the 20-year sentence handed down to the Iranian diplomat Assadollah Assadi, in Belgium. Assadi and his three co-conspirators were tried in Antwerp in 2021 for attempting to bomb a mass Iranian opposition rally at Villepinte near Paris in 2018. According to the verdict in the Antwerp Court, Assadi was a senior agent of the Iranian regime’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS). He was using the cover of being a diplomat in the Iranian embassy in Vienna to enable him to plan a terrorist bomb attack that would have caused carnage on European soil, potentially killing hundreds of men, women, and children. He brought the fully-primed, professionally-constructed bomb from Tehran in a commercial airliner, concealed in his diplomatic pouch.

In retaliation for these setbacks in the European courts, the mullahs planned an attack on a rally of anti-regime dissidents and their supporters in Albania, leading to the postponement of the event at the request of the Albanian government on security grounds. The rally was scheduled for the weekend of July 23 and 24 in Ashraf 3, headquarters of the PMOI/MEK. It’s not the first time the mullahs have planned a terrorist outrage in Albania. Back in January 2020, Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama expelled the Iranian Ambassador and his First Secretary for planning another terrorist bomb attack on the PMOI/MEK's Persian New Year celebration in March 2018.

With this litany of terrorist bomb plots and assassination attempts, it could be safely assumed that western political leaders would seek to hold the Iranian regime to account. Sadly, this is not the case. Alarmed at the spiralling fuel crisis facing Europe this winter, due to the severance of oil and gas supplies from Russia, EU political leaders have desperately sought ways of establishing new energy sources. Their attention has focused on Iran, where the regime has demanded the lifting of all sanctions as a pre-condition for resurrecting the stalled nuclear deal and recommencing gas and oil supplies to the West. The EU’s main appeasers, including Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security, and Charles Michel, President of the European Council and former Prime Minister of Belgium, are bending over backwards to appease the mullahs, even negotiating a treaty that would allow jailed Iranian terrorists like Assadi to be repatriated. It is this sort of shameful attempt at appeasement that emboldens the mullahs and encourages them to plan further terrorist outrages in the West.

Now President Ebrahim Raisi, dubbed "The Butcher of Tehran" for his grisly part in the 1988 massacre of political prisoners, has announced his intention to attend the UN General Assembly in New York next month. When a thick dossier of evidence of Raisi’s involvement in crimes against humanity and genocide was submitted to Police Scotland and the Metropolitan Police last November, Raisi quickly cancelled his plans to visit Glasgow for the COP26 Environmental Summit. The Biden administration would be well advised to show some backbone by refusing to issue a visa to Raisi.

Struan Stevenson was a member of the European Parliament from 1999-2014. He is a writer and an international lecturer on the Middle East.

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