Hadi Matar: New Jersey man, 24, who stabbed Salman Rushdie had sympathies for Iran's Revolutionary Guards
CHAUTAUQUA, NEW YORK: New York State Police have revealed the identity of the suspect who attacked novelist Salman Rushdie as Hadi Matar. Matar, a 24-year-old from Fairview, New Jersey, shocked the world when he repeatedly stabbed the 'Satanic Verses' author at a public speaking event at Chautauqua Institution, New York, on Friday, August 12.
According to the law enforcement authorities, the author was stabbed "at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen.” Rushdie was rushed to a nearby local hospital where he remained in surgery, while the attacker was taken into the New York State Police custody.
Who is Hadi Matar?
Salman Rushdie, the 75-year-old author, was stabbed repeatedly by a man who has now been identified as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey. Authorities are still looking into Matar's nationality and his criminal records, if any. New York State Police Maj. Eugene J. Staniszewski told NBC News that a preliminary review of Matar's social media revealed that he had "sympathies for Shia extremism and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC."
Matar reportedly had a pass to attend the lecture where Rushdie was scheduled to speak. While the authorities are still investigating the motive behind his attack, they believe that Matar acted alone and had no accomplices. The FBI is helping the New York State Police with the investigation. A backpack that is believed to have been left behind by Matar at the venue has been deemed safe by the sheriff's bomb squad members, and the state troopers have requested a search warrant to look inside, Staniszewski said. The authorities have also requested the judge to issue a search warrant to look into Matar's electronic devices. Matar's charges for the attack will be based on the author's condition, added the official.
Why was Salman Rushdie stabbed?
Back in the 1980s, the 75-year-old Booker Prize-Winning author sparked controversy when he released his novel 'The Satanic Verses', which has been banned in Iran and several other Islamic nations claiming that the literary piece was 'blasphemous'. The book also sparked riots in Britain where 45 people were killed. In 1989 Iran's leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie's death and also placed a bounty of $3 million. The death threats and the subsequent bounty pushed Rushdie to go into hiding under a British government protection program. He gradually began making public appearances nine years later, and moved to the United States in 2000. He has since then continued to be pretty vocal against religious extremism.
Though the precise reason for the attack on the author is still being investigated, the authorities believe that Matar had sympathies towards the Iranian government's fatwa. According to NBC News, Matar reportedly made several social media posts in support of Iran and its Revolutionary Guard(IRGC), and in the support of Shia extremism. "We will work with the FBI, the sheriff's office, and we will determine what the cause of this attack was, what the motive was," Staniszewski said.
Though there are no direct links between Matar and the IRGC, which has been classified as a terrorist organization by the US government, officials however discovered a messaging app on his mobile that included images of Soleimani, an Iraqi extremist sympathetic to the Iranian regime.