Was Ayatollah Khomeini a State Sponsor of Terrorism? Does the Pope Shit in the Woods?

In 1989, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, pledged $5.2 million for the murder of author Salman Rushdie, also calling for the death of anyone involved in publishing his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses.

"I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult Islamic sanctity," Khomeini said. "Whoever is killed doing this will be regarded as a martyr and will go directly to heaven."

This weekend, some local Muslim leaders got really angry over the insinuation that Khomeini, whose fatwa resulted in the death of scores of innocents, was a sponsor of terrorism.

As The Seattle Times reports, a meeting was held Saturday at North Seattle Community College between 20 or so local Muslim leaders and law enforcement, with the aim of getting everyone to play together a bit more nicely.

Things went fine during the Seattle PD's presentation, which covered how to assert one's rights when stopped and questioned by police officers. But trouble arose when two FBI agents got up and started talking about Islamic terrorism, and in particular state-sponsored terrorism.

As the Times reports, the agents showed an image during their PowerPoint presentation of a man audience members believed to be Khomeini, prompting questions of whether they were indeed looking at a picture of Iran's Islamic revolutionary-in-chief.

The photo was small, and the two FBI agents giving the presentation said they didn't know who it was. That offended members of the audience even more, and one of them compared it to calling the pope a terrorist or serving pork to Muslims.

Now, we're all for law enforcement taking care not to trample the rights of Muslims (or any group, for that matter) as it seeks to weed out murderous criminals (or terrorists, if you prefer). It is obvious that the FBI, and law enforcement more generally, has not always managed to do this effectively, to say the least. Point taken.

But when the Supreme Leader of a country puts a $5.2 million bounty on one of the greatest living writers in the English language, thereby causing the deaths of dozens of people, many of whom had nothing to do with the supposed blasphemy, it seems pretty reasonable to employ the "state-sponsored terrorism" label. Right?

Apparently not.

"I was ready to walk out, but this is exactly why we need to do things like this," event organizer Amin Odeh told the Times. (He didn't immediately return a call from the Weekly, but if we hear back, we'll let you know what he has to say.)

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