On August 2, Tehran declared that President Ebrahim Raisi would attend the UN General Assembly session in September. “The preliminary planning has been carried out for the President’s attendance at the UN General Assembly session,” said Ali Bahadori Jahromi in a press conference.
Ebrahim Raisi will attend the UN General Assembly session in New York this Sept, Iran's Gov Spox announced today
— M. Hanif Jazayeri (@HanifJazayeri) August 2, 2022
Following the announcement, Iranians launched the “No Visa for Raisi,” a campaign calling on the U.S. to deny granting a visa to Raisi. They reckoned that Raisi was one of the foremost perpetrators of mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. At the time, “Death Commissions” was formed to implement the execution of 30,000 political prisoners, mostly affiliated with the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), based on a fatwa issued by the regime’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini.
Several survivors and eyewitnesses identified Raisi as one of the four-member death commission in Tehran’s prisons. They urged the international community, particularly the U.S. administration, to avoid hosting the mass murderer president and his delegation due to their crimes against humanity.
Iranian American community believes that the attendance of a mass murderer severely disreputes the U.N.’s prestige as the greatest advocate for human rights. Not only did Raisi lead thousands of political prisoners to the gallows in 1988, but his hands are stained with the blood of thousands of inmates arbitrarily executed during his tenure as the Judiciary chief (2019-2021) and the President (2021-present). He was also actively involved in the lethal crackdown on protesters in November 2019, leaving more than 1,500 victims on the streets.
— OIAC Organization of Iranian American Communities (@OrgIAC) July 27, 2022
The Iranians argue that Raisi doesn’t enjoy the head of state’s impunity because “Based on the Islamic Republic’s constitution, the Supreme Leader is the head of state, and the president is the highest official after the Supreme Leader.”
Hence, the U.S. should only grant a visa to Raisi for his detention and prosecution for gross human rights violations, based on the Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991.
Furthermore, several former U.S. officials, current representatives, and senators objected to granting a visa to Raisi. In a joint letter on the same day, U.S. Senator Tom Cotton and six other Senators demanded President Biden deny Raisi and his delegation a visa to attend the UN General Assembly in New York City in September.
“Raisi’s involvement in mass murder and the Iranian regime’s campaign to assassinate U.S. officials on American soil makes allowing Raisi and his henchmen to enter our country an inexcusable threat to national security,” Senators wrote.
Meanwhile, more prominent individuals joined the campaign, pointing to Tehran’s foiled terror attempts against former White House National Security Advisor John Bolton and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, revealed by the U.S. Department of Justice on August 10.
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) August 10, 2022
Following the DOJ revelation, the Federal Bureau of Intelligence registered Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) member Shahram Poursafi on its wanted list on charges related to the murder-to-hire plot. Poursafi had offered $300,000 on behalf of the IRGC for the assassination of Amb. Bolton and another $1 million for a second target, which has now been confirmed to be former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
A day later, Amb. Bolton described the Iranian regime’s plot as “unprecedented” and “an act of war.” “The aim here is to kill Americans on American soil and its former government officials,” Bolton explained in an interview with Fox News. “This is a broad threat to private American citizens on American soil, and I think it is, essentially, unprecedented. You could call it an act of war, and it tells you everything you need to know about the government in Tehran.”
Meanwhile, the former U.S. Defense Minister Mark Esper called the assassination plot “an act of war.” “If they were to assassinate an American or let alone, an American official — to me, that’s an act of war,” Esper said in an interview with CBS News, urging the Biden administration to take a hard line with Iran’s regime.
Likewise, the IRGC’s second target Mike Pompeo called on the White House to deny Ebrahim Raisi a visa to enter the U.S. and attend the U.N. General Assembly, citing Tehran’s active plots to assassinate him and other top U.S. officials. “The Biden administration is setting a dangerous precedent by permitting Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi into America just weeks after the hardline regime threatened to ‘turn New York into ruins and hell’ with an intercontinental missile strike,” the Washington Free Beacon quoted Pompeo as saying.
Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley also decried ensuring a visa to Raisi. “Under no circumstances should the Biden administration allow Raisi to set foot in our country,” she said. “He should not be allowed to stain American soil.”