The attack against novelist Salman Rushdie was a “warning” to the “killers” of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Qassem Soleimani, an Iranian lawmaker said on Saturday.
Malek Shariati, who represents several electoral districts in Tehran province in the Iranian parliament, wrote on Twitter that the attack against Rushdie, regardless of whether Iran was directly involved in it, was a “warning to the killers of martyr Soleimani.”
“If Iran was directly involved, it proves the power of Islamic Iran. If the attack was carried out by a Muslim acting independently of Iran, it shows that the revolution has been exported to the heart of the enemy. If the US and the UK were behind this, it serves as a lesson for those who trust the West,” Shariati wrote on Twitter.
“In any case, [the attack] is a warning to the killers of martyr Soleimani,” he added.
Soleimani was killed in a US airstrike in Iraq on January 3, 2020, ordered by then President Donald Trump. He headed the Quds Force, the overseas arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The US on Wednesday charged a member of the IRGC with plotting to murder John Bolton, a staunch opponent of the Iranian regime who served as national security advisor to former President Donald Trump.
The murder plot was “likely” in retaliation for the killing of Soleimani, the US Justice Department said in a statement.
Iran versus Rushdie
Rushdie, who has lived with a bounty on his head since the late 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and torso on Friday as he prepared to speak at an event in western New York. Andrew Wylie, Rushdie’s book agent, said the author “will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”
Hadi Matar, the suspect in the attack, has been charged with attempted murder and is being held without bond, the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s office said on Saturday.
A preliminary review of Matar’s social media accounts showed he had sympathies for “Shia extremism” and the IRGC, NBC News reported on Friday, citing a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation.
Rushdie has long faced death threats for his fourth novel, “The Satanic Verses,” published in 1988.
In 1989, Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s supreme leader at the time, pronounced a fatwa, or religious edict, calling upon Muslims to kill Rushdie and anyone involved in the book’s publication for blasphemy.
Iranian organizations, some affiliated with the government, have raised a bounty worth millions of dollars for Rushdie’s murder. Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, has reaffirmed the fatwa on multiple occasions, most recently in 2019 through his Twitter account.
Iran’s IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency and other news outlets donated money in 2016 to increase the bounty by $600,000. Fars called Rushdie an apostate who “insulted the prophet” in its report on Friday’s attack.