On Oct. 28, 2022, the United States sanctioned Iran’s 15 Khordad Foundation for offering a $3.3 million bounty for the murder of Salman Rushdie, the British-American author of “The Satanic Verses.” Thirty-four years after his book was published, Rushdie was attacked while giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in New York on Aug. 12, 2022. The bounty was first announced after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling on Muslims worldwide to kill Rushdie for blasphemy in February 1989, five months after the book was published. Rushdie, who went underground for more than a decade, was the target of multiple death threats. He later emerged and appeared often in public.
In the attack by Hadi Matar, a Lebanese-American from New Jersey, Rushdie permanently lost sight in one eye and the use of one hand, his agent, Andrew Wylie, reported in October 2022. The new U.S. sanctions cited the 15 Khordad Foundation for financial support of terrorism. “The infamous fatwa was intended to incite terrorism and violence, bring about the death of Rushdie and his associates, and intimidate others,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. The sanctions prohibited all financial and property transactions with the foundation, which had ties to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Secretary of State Blinken's statement
In response to the attack on author Salman Rushdie, the United States is designating the Iranian entity 15 Khordad Foundation. Before the attack, this entity had issued and subsequently increased a bounty on Rushdie’s life in support of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s order calling for Rushdie’s death. We are designating it today for providing financial support for an act of terrorism.
In 1989, following the publication of Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, then-Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for the author’s death, leading to attacks on Rushdie and those associated with him. The fatwa was reaffirmed by Iran’s current Supreme Leader in 2017 and was republished by Iranian state-controlled media as recently as August 2022. 15 Khordad Foundation issued a bounty on Rushdie in support of Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa, and later, in 2012, increased the bounty. Several of Rushdie’s translators and business associates involved with the publication of The Satanic Verses in several countries have been killed or severely injured as a result of this incitement, as have dozens of innocent civilians.
The infamous fatwa was intended to incite terrorism and violence, bring about the death of Rushdie and his associates, and intimidate others. The United States condemns such incitement and the attack on Rushdie in the strongest terms as a blatant assault on freedom of speech and an act of terrorism. Today’s action is another clear signal that we will not stand by in the face of it.
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took action today against the 15 Khordad Foundation, an Iran-based foundation that has issued a multi-million-dollar bounty for the killing of prominent Indian-born, British-American author Salman Rushdie. Since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s order pronouncing a death sentence on Rushdie in February 1989, 15 Khordad Foundation has committed millions of dollars to anyone willing to carry out this heinous act. Since putting its bounty on Rushdie, the 15 Khordad Foundation, which is affiliated with the Supreme Leader, has raised the reward for targeting the author.
“The United States will not waver in its determination to stand up to threats posed by Iranian authorities against the universal rights of freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, and freedom of the press,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “This act of violence, which has been praised by the Iranian regime, is appalling. We all hope for Salman Rushdie’s speedy recovery following the attack on his life.”
OFAC is designating 15 Khordad Foundation pursuant to Executive Order 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, an act of terrorism.
15 KHORDAD FOUNDATION
The 15 Khordad Foundation is a so-called charitable foundation subordinate to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Since 1989, the 15 Khordad Foundation, inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini’s order calling for Rushdie’s execution, has proudly placed a bounty on the author’s life.
The call for Rushdie’s assassination, issued by Ayatollah Khomeini and financially backed by the 15 Khordad Foundation and other Iranian entities, has led to the death and injury of several people associated with Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, including other writers, translators, and publishers. In 1991, the translator of The Satanic Verses into Japanese was assassinated in his office. Even people with no connection to the novel have been maimed or killed. In 1993, at least 37 people were killed when a mob burned down a hotel in Turkey that was hosting a writer who had translated Rushdie’s work.
The 15 Khordad Foundation maintains a multi-million-dollar bounty on Rushdie. As recently as 2012, the 15 Khordad Foundation increased its bounty on the author, bringing the total sum from $2.7 million to $3.3 million. The 15 Khordad Foundation’s leadership has publicly advertised their offer, claiming the entire sum would be given immediately to anyone who assassinated Rushdie.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the entity named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by it, individually, or with other blocked persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, must be blocked and reported to OFAC. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within the United States (including transactions transiting the United States) that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.
Furthermore, engaging in certain transactions with the entity designated today entails risk of secondary sanctions pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended. Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account of a foreign financial institution that knowingly conducted or facilitated any significant transaction on behalf of a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from its ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please click here.