Hadi Matar, the man who allegedly stabbed author Salman Rushdie on Friday, posted on social media about his support for Iran and its Revolutionary Guard. Preliminary investigation suggests that Matar, 24, also posted on social media about his support for Shia extremism in general.
Matar was arrested moments after he attacked Rushdie on stage, while the author was reading to give a speech. He stabbed the "Satanic Verses" author up to 15 times, leaving him seriously wounded. According to reports, Matar came with the intention to kill Rushdie, although the exact motive behind the attack still remains unclear. He is presently being questioned by law enforcement officials.
Police stormed Matar's home at Fairview, New Jersey hours after the attack. However, authorities are yet to share the finds from his home. Preliminary investigations suggest that Matar came with the intention to kill Rushdie who was giving a speech at an event at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York.
Law-enforcement sources told the outlet that a preliminary inquiry indicated Matar had posted on social media about his support for Iran and its Revolutionary Guard as well as for Shia extremism in general.
Maj. Eugene Staniszewski of the State Police said that although there are no direct links between Matar and the IRGC, investigators apparently found photos of the murdered 2020 Iranian commander Qassem Solemani in Matar's cell phone messaging app.
The authorities, however, are in the "process of obtaining search warrants for various items. There was a backpack located at the scene. There was also electronic devices".
"But we are working with the FBI, the Sheriff's Office and we will determine what the cause of this was and what the motive for this attack was," said Staniszewski.
The suspect, according to people familiar with the inquiry, was born in California but recently moved to New Jersey. His last known address was in Fairview, a Bergen County borough located just on the other side of the Hudson River from Manhattan.
As of now, police believe that Matar was "working lone" but they haven't yet ruled out the possibility of a planned attack on Rushdie. Matar, who according to police entered the venue with a pass, was able to walk off the stage before being restrained as onlookers raced to help Rushdie.
Although guests can purchase passes for the event, multiple questions are being raised about the security lapses. Matar is believed to have entered the venue as a guest after buying a pass but his weapon went undetected.
Police haven't yet revealed the kind or make of the weapon used to stab Rushdie.
According to witnesses and one former employee who spoke to The Daily Beast, Rushdie had long feared such an attack because of security lapses. Eyewitnesses told the outlet that there were Several disturbing lapses in security at the event at Chautauqua Institution.
Bags were allowed and there was no proper checking. A former employee of the Chautauqua Institution stated under the condition of anonymity that these low security measuresâwhich he claimed were maintained in defiance of certain staff' recommendationsâwere inevitably going to result in a problem.
"We warned leadership for years that something like this would happen," the employee told the Daily Beast. "But leaders felt extra security measures would ruin the friendly feel and openness of the institute."
The New York Times reported that Matar was able to easily get to Rushdie by running onstage and approaching him from behind. After Matar was taken into custody, state investigators found his backpack on the site.
Kathleen Jones, another witness, described Matar as being all in black and donning a black mask. We believed it was a ruse to demonstrate the ongoing debate around this author. But she claimed that it became obvious in a split second that it wasn't.