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Police are getting more information about the suspect who allegedly stormed a New York stage and stabbed author Salman Rushdie in the neck on Friday.
The suspect, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, was born in California but recently moved to New Jersey, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation. His last address on record was in Fairview, a Bergen County district across the Hudson River from Manhattan. FBI officials were seen entering Matar’s home on Friday night.
Sources said Matar also had a fake New Jersey driver’s license.
State Police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said the motive for the stabbing was unclear. A preliminary law enforcement review of Matar’s social media accounts shows he is sympathetic to Shiite extremism and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps causes, a law enforcement person with direct knowledge told NBC News. Of the investigation. There are no definitive links to the IRGC, but initial assessment indicates that he is sympathetic to the Iranian government group, the official says.
Author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck on Friday by a man who came on stage as Rushdie was about to give a lecture in New York.
Bystander Kathleen Jones said the attacker was dressed in black, wearing a black mask.
“We thought maybe it was part of a stunt to show that there is still a lot of controversy around this author. But it became clear within seconds “that he wasn’t, he said.
The assailant ran onto the platform “and started beating Mr. Rushdie. At first you say, ‘What’s going on?’ And then it became very clear within seconds that he was being beaten,” Rabbi Charles Savenor said. the director of congregational education for the Park Avenue Synagogue in Manhattan, who was also among the roughly 2,500 people in the audience.
Savenor said the attack occurred with moments of Rushdie and Reese taking the stage, and lasted about 20 seconds, after which spectators were ushered out of the outdoor amphitheater amid gasps.
After Rushdie was pushed or fell to the ground, Matar was arrested by a New York State Trooper and was awaiting arraignment. It was not immediately clear what charges he would face in the attack on the author whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from Iran’s leader in the 1980s.
Rushdie, 75, bloodied, was airlifted to a hospital after being attacked and apparently stabbed in the neck as he was about to give a lecture in western New York, state police said. His condition was not immediately known. His agent, Andrew Wylie, said the writer was on a ventilator Friday night with a damaged liver, severed nerves in his arm and an eye he was likely to lose.
An Associated Press reporter saw a man confront Rushdie onstage at the Chautauqua Institution and punch or stab him 10 to 15 times while being introduced.
Gov. Kathy Hochul later said he was alive and “getting the care he needs.” Dr Martin Haskell, a doctor who was among those rushing to help, described Rushdie’s injuries as “serious but recoverable”.
Event moderator Henry Reese, co-founder of an organization that provides residencies for writers facing persecution, was also attacked and suffered a minor head injury, police said. He and Rushdie were to discuss the United States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile.
A state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy were assigned to Rushdie’s conference, and state police said the trooper made the arrest. But after the attack, some long-time visitors to the center questioned why there wasn’t tighter security for the event, given decades of threats against Rushdie and a bounty on his head that offers more than $3 million to anyone. mate.
Rushdie has been a prominent spokesman for free speech and liberal causes. He is a former president of PEN America, who said he was “recovered from the shock and horror” of the attack.
“We cannot think of any comparable incident of a violent public attack on a literary writer on American soil,” Executive Director Suzanne Nossel said in a statement.
Rushdie’s 1988 novel was viewed as blasphemous by many Muslims, who saw the character as an insult to the Prophet Muhammad, among other objections. Often violent protests broke out across the Muslim world against Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim family.
At least 45 people were killed in riots over the book, including 12 people in Rushdie’s hometown of Mumbai. In 1991, a Japanese translator of the book was stabbed to death and an Italian translator survived a knife attack. In 1993, the book’s Norwegian publisher was shot three times and survived.
The book was banned in Iran, where the late leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, in 1989 calling for Rushdie’s death. Khomeini died that same year.
Iran’s current supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, never issued a fatwa of his own to withdraw the edict, though Iran in recent years has not targeted the writer.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday’s attack, which headlined a nightly news bulletin on Iranian state television.
The death threats and reward drove Rushdie into hiding under a British government protection program, which included a 24-hour armed guard. Rushdie emerged from nine years in seclusion and cautiously resumed more public appearances, keeping his open criticism of religious extremism in general.
He said in a 2012 talk in New York that terrorism is really the art of fear.
“The only way you can beat it is by deciding not to be afraid,” he said.
Anti-Rushdie sentiment has persisted long after the Khomeini decree. The Index on Censorship, an organization that promotes free speech, said money was raised to increase the reward for his murder in 2016.
An Associated Press reporter who went to