UK should designate IRGC as terrorist over Rushdie stabbing: PM hopeful Sunak

The UK should designate Iran’s revolutionary guards as a terrorist group over an attack on author Salman Rushdie, British Prime Minister hopeful Rishi Sunak has said.

The candidate running for leadership of the Conservative party also urged more sanctions on Iran and cast doubt over efforts to revive the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal that lifted sanctions.

“We urgently need a new, strengthened deal and much tougher sanctions, and if we can’t get results then we have to start asking whether the JCPOA is at a dead end,” Sunak said in a statement.

Hadi Matar, 24, from Fairview, New Jersey, the suspect in Friday’s stabbing, showed sympathies for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on his social media channels, NBC News reported citing a law enforcement official.

The official noted that there were no “definitive links” between Matar and the IRGC.

Sunak said in his statement that Iran’s response to the incident strengthened the argument for designating the IRGC as a terrorist group.

There has been no official statement from Iran on the attack, but Iranian newspapers, including Kayhan whose chief is appointed by supreme leader Ali Khamenei, praised it.

State-owned paper Iran said that the “neck of the devil” had been “cut by a razor.”

Rushdie, the 75-year-old Indian-born author of The Satanic Verses, was hospitalized with serious injuries after being repeatedly stabbed onstage at a lecture in New York state.

He was taken off a ventilator on Saturday and was reportedly “off the ventilator and talking (and joking),” fellow author Aatish Taseer said in a tweet.

The Satanic Verses elicited a religious edict from Iran’s then-leader Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989 calling on Muslims around the world to kill Rushdie, who was forced into hiding for years.

Iran’s 15th Khordad Foundation offered a bounty for the life of the author, which was increased to $2.5 million in 1997, and $3.3 million in 2012.

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