The mullahs who rule Iran waited patiently until 4 o’clock Monday morning Eastern Standard Time before issuing a “sorry, not sorry” statement about the attempted murder of novelist Salman Rushdie that occurred in upstate New York on Friday. Legacy media in the United States took Tehran’s statement at face value, essentially aiding the mullahs in their mission.

Rushdie, the Iranian foreign ministry statement asserts, brought the attack on himself. That’s sort of like blaming the woman who was killed by a Great White shark off Bailey’s Island two years ago for looking like a seal.

No report that I have yet read, heard or seen has referenced the practice of taqiyya, the “precautionary dissimulation or denial” that is unique to Shi’a Islam. Under this practice, whose name derives from the Arabic word for “fear” or “prudence,” the mullahs are not obliged to tell the truth if they deem it in their interests to throw up a little cover instead.

Indeed, this practice explains much of what the Iranian regime says. Or why, in 1998, they officially distanced themselves from Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini’s fatwa, or religious order for the execution of Rushdie, following the publication of his book “The Satanic Verses” in the late 1980s. That particular dissimulation was for the benefit of the United Kingdom, which went on to restore diplomatic ties with Tehran then – thanks to that taqiyya.

A close reading of the Iranian state press since Friday’s vicious attack on Rushdie on American soil shows there has in fact been much celebration. The editor-in-chief of the hardline Iranian newspaper Kayhan, wrote on Saturday:

“A thousand bravos … to the brave and dutiful person who attacked the apostate and evil Salman Rushdie in New York,” and added, “The hand of the man who tore the neck of God’s enemy must be kissed.”

While Reuters did run a short piece on this statement, the only news organization that picked it up so far as I have seen is a London-based news source for Iranian expatriates who deplore their country’s current regime.

When I asked a friend who fled the Islamic Revolution in 1979 what the word on the street in his homeland was following the Rushdie attack, he sent me this piece via secret messenger, apparently concerned about doing so via more open means – despite the fact he now lives in a free country. Has the fear he feels spread to Western journalists writ large?

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice charged an Iranian operative with planning to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton, an unequivocal critic of the Iranian regime. Sure, this move may have been overshadowed by other Justice Department (FBI) activities last week, but still, it was barely covered. In his condemnation of the attack on Rushdie, President Joe Biden made no mention of Iran or Khomeini’s fatwa.

Like a badly behaved child, it almost seems like there is a united effort to excuse the Iranian regime by soft-pedaling, or otherwise covering up its transgressions. A 2011 plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States at a swanky Washington, D.C., restaurant did nothing to slow the Obama administration’s drive to seal the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran deal. Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, shredded the deal in 2017, but some in the current administration are eager to resuscitate it – presumably because they believe they can tell when Tehran is telling the truth and when it isn’t.

But it’s unlikely they can. More often than not, we read Iran wrong. Some may have forgotten Sen. Susan Collins’ op-ed in the Bangor Daily News after Jan. 6 in which she wrote that her first thought when the Capitol was breached was that it was the Iranians. While she is correct to be wary of the Iranian regime, in this instance the statement was manifestly silly because no power on earth had a greater interest in seeing Biden certified as the U.S. president than Iran, which believes it can pick up with him where they left off with Obama.

Hopefully the silver lining of the vicious attack on Rushdie is that whichever strange creatures in Washington are anxious to revive the JCPOA will be put in a corner for a little while longer. Though they now face stiff competition from Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Iran’s regime is a murderous one. We shouldn’t feel afraid to say so. If we do, it means they have won.

Sam Patten is a recovering political consultant who was raised in Knox County and worked for Maine’s last three Republican senators.