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US said to mull sanctions on Iran-linked entities over Rushdie attack

Report says US officials taking nuke deal talks into consideration; 15th Khordad Foundation, semi-official Fars news agency named as groups that offered money for bounty on author

This still image from video shows Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, at left, being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Salman Rushdie, center right, at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, New York, Aug. 12, 2022. (AP)
This still image from video shows Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey, at left, being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Salman Rushdie, center right, at the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, New York, Aug. 12, 2022. (AP)

The United States is reportedly considering placing sanctions on Iran-linked entities for encouraging violence against author Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed and seriously injured in an attack last month.

No decision has been made yet on the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

US sources familiar with the issue told the outlet that the decision on a response to the Rushdie attack had to be made with consideration for the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and world powers.

According to the report, the sanctions under consideration include restricting access to global financial systems for those Iran-linked entities.

Unnamed US officials told the outlet that the entities bore responsibility due to their support for Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini whose 1989 edict — a fatwa — called for Rushdie’s death.

Without specifically saying that they were the entities under consideration for the sanctions, the report named the 15th Khordad Foundation and the semi-official Fars news agency as organizations that had pledged to contribute to the bounty on Rushdie’s head.

Salman Rushdie in New York, November 15, 2017. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, archivo)

The two organizations refused the Journal’s request for comment.

The US Treasury and State departments also declined to comment, the report said.

Iran has denied involvement in the attack.

In the wake of the assault on the author, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the US and its allies “will not waver in our determination to stand up to these threats, using every appropriate tool at our disposal.”

Blinken also described Iranian media coverage of the attack as “despicable.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at Purdue University, Sept. 13, 2022, in West Lafayette, Indiana (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

US prosecutors say Hadi Matar, 24, stabbed Rushdie in the neck, stomach, chest, hand and right eye at an August 12 literary event in western New York, before onlookers intervened.

Rushdie had been sitting in a chair onstage at the Chautauqua Institution waiting to be introduced for a discussion of protections for writers in exile and freedom of expression.

In a jailhouse interview with The New York Post after his arrest, Matar spoke about disliking Rushdie and praised Iran’s Khomeini.

Hadi Matar, the man accused in the attempted murder of British author Salman Rushdie, appears in court for a procedural hearing at Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York on August 18, 2022. (Abgela Weiss/AFP)

“I respect the ayatollah. I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that,” Matar said.

The suspect added that in fact he had only “read like two pages” of Rushdie’s “The Satanic Verses.”

Rushdie spent years in hiding in the wake of the issuing of the fatwa, but had traveled freely over the past two decades.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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