Hadi Matar was named by New York State Police as the suspect accused of stabbing “The Satanic Verses” author Salman Rushdie.
Matar, 24, is from Fairview, New Jersey.
“The news is not good,” Andrew Wylie, Rushdie’s agent, said on Friday evening, according to The Guardian. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.” AP reported later that Rushdie was talking and joking.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect, Who Is Accused of Having Sympathies to the Iranian Government, Stabbed or Punched Rushdie 10-15, a Witness Says
According to the Associated Press, a reporter saw the suspect “punch or stab him 10 to 15 times as he was being introduced. The author was pushed or fell to the floor, and the man was arrested.”
According to the New York Post, Matar is accused of being “sympathetic to the Iranian regime and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.”
Authorities have not confirmed that information. Online records show an old address in Cudahy, California, for Matar, as well as one in New Jersey.
According to NBC New York, Matar had a fake driver’s license on him. Daily Mail reported that it was in the name Hassan Mughniyah – “names which are linked to infamous terrorist organization Hezbollah.”
Reported Daily Mail: “The group’s current leader is named Hassan Nasralla, an one of the group’s most notorious figures was Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in a CIA-linked assassination in Syria in 2008.”
2. Matar’s Social Media Accounts Showed Extremist Beliefs & Photos of Deceased Iranian Commander Qassem Soleimani, Reports Say
Law enforcement sources told NBC New York that review of Matar’s social media accounts “shows he is sympathetic to Shia extremism and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps causes.”
The source told NBC that there “are no definitive links to the IRGC but the initial assessment indicates he is sympathetic to the Iranian government group, the official says.”
Authorties “found images of Iranian commander Qassem Solemani, who was assassinated in 2020, in a cell phone messaging app belonging to Matar,” reported NDTV-com.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told CNN that Rushdie is “alive” and “getting the care he needs.” A state trooper “stood up and saved his life and protected him as well as the moderator who was attacked as well,” the governor told CNN.
“Here is an individual who has spent decades speaking truth to power,” the governor said to CNN. “Someone who has been out there unafraid, despite the threats that have followed him his entire adult life it seems.”
According to The Guardian, Rushdie was in surgery after the attack.
3. Matar Was Born in the U.S. to Lebanese Parents, Reports Say
According to The Associated Press, Matar “was born in the United States to Lebanese parents who emigrated from Yaroun, a border village in southern Lebanon.”
That’s according to the village’s mayor. The AP reported that “flags of Iran-backed Shia militant group Hezbollah and portraits of leader Hassan Nasrallah, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his late predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and slain Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani are visible across the village. The village also boasts a small Christian population.”
One video (see above) showed Rushdie lying on the ground in the auditorium, surrounded by people who were trying to give him aid.
Another video showed Rushdie being taken on a stretcher to a helicopter.
Another video captured emergency responders rushing to Rushdie’s side.
4. Matar Was Part of a Fitness Boxing Club in New Jersey
According to the Associated Press, Rosaria Calabrese, manager of the State of Fitness Boxing Club, said that Matar participated in group sessions. Several days before the attack, he emailed her to cancel his membership, saying “he wouldn’t be coming back for a while,” AP reported.
Gym owner Desmond Boyle told AP he saw “nothing violent” about Matar, but said he was standoffish and looked “tremendously sad.”
A witness told CNN that a man in a black shirt appeared to be “punching” Rushdie after “walking quickly” down an aisle and jumping onstage. Another witness told the cable news network that there were no metal detectives or security searches at the event.
The motive was not released. However, it’s no secret that Rushdie has long been living under threat of death due to his writings about the Muslim religion.
In 1989, according to CNN, Iran’s leader issued a “fatwa,” calling for his death because of the book “The Satanic Verses,” arguing that it blasphemed Islam.
Dr. Martin Haskell, a doctor who helped Rushdie, told the Associated Press that Rushdie’s injuries were “serious but recoverable.”
5. Rushdie Was Stabbed in the Neck, State Police Say
In a news release, New York State Police revealed they “are investigating an attack on author Salman Rushdie prior to a speaking event at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY.”
On August 12, 2022, at about 11 a.m., “a male suspect ran up onto the stage and attacked Rushdie and an interviewer. Rushdie suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. His condition is not yet known,” the news release said.
“The interviewer suffered a minor head injury. A State Trooper assigned to the event immediately took the suspect into custody. The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office assisted at the scene.”
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