Although Hakakian says that judgment had a tempering effect on the regime’s behavior, she also says that Iran’s actions leading up to the Berlin assassination became a blueprint for future terrorism acts, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Iranian government agents “were going around in Europe for a decade and a half at least, killing Iranians, preparing the grounds for the cultivation of notorious groups and acts,” she said. “Europe basically knew that the assassination of these Iranian exiles was going on by Iran but turned a blind eye to them . . . and it’s very clear that once the smaller acts were allowed to take place, the bigger acts could be envisioned.”
On the Hill, Hakakian plans to urge policymakers to remember the Berlin affair when confronting the Iranian regime. “Nobody had to bomb Tehran in 1997, but the regime did suffer at the time the greatest blow that it had ever suffered at the hands of the international community,” she said. “Far more was achieved than anything that we have managed to do in all the years of these belligerent nonconfrontational confrontations. All it took was a serious prosecutor, a really good judge and a bunch of persistent people. . . . The whole E.U. stood together to speak with one voice, and Iran really did stop for a long time.”
Although she prevailed against the initial suggestions to write herself into the Berlin story, she accepts that she has taken on a role by bringing it to light.
“I feel myself as a translator,” she said, adding that as a Jew in Iran and now as an Iranian in America, she has always hovered on the periphery.
“My job is to tell what gets lost in the narrative about Iran — which is not the nuclear story, not the wiping-Israel-off-the-map story, not the ones that are in the headlines, but the stories that are sort of insider accounts, the stories that have deeply shaped us,” she said. “There are these overlapping spaces that I do inhabit, and I stand there, trying to pass information from one sphere to the other.”