“The person responsible for yesterday’s (Friday) attack — Hadi Matar — has now been formally charged with attempted second-degree murder and second-degree assault,” Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said in a statement. “He was charged (Friday) night and remains in custody without bail,” he said, according to Reuters.
Matar was born to Lebanese parents who immigrated from the southern Lebanese border town of Jaroun, Mayor Ali Tihfí told the AP, and recently moved to Fairview, New Jersey. The motive for the attack has not been clarified.
Writer Salman Rushdie was stabbed in the neck by an attacker on stage
A spokesman for the Iranian-backed Lebanese armed movement Hezbollah told Reuters he had no further information about the attack on Rushdie. “We don’t know anything about this subject, so we won’t comment,” said a group official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Matar was born ten years after the publication of Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, in which Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called on Muslims to kill Rushdie for blasphemy. Criticism from Muslim groups accused Rushdie of insulting the Koran and the Prophet Muhammad in the book.
An unnamed law enforcement official said initial information indicated the suspect had expressed sympathy for Shiite extremism and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on social media, the NBC News website reported. Police on Friday night blocked off a street leading to a New Jersey home linked to the suspect. According to NBC, the suspect, who was born in California and recently moved to New Jersey, was found to have a fake driver’s license.
The attack has also raised many questions about the security arrangements at the center where the incident took place. According to two sources who spoke to CNN, the institution’s leadership rejected recommendations to implement basic security measures, including baggage checks and the installation of a metal detector, out of concern that it could it creates a divide between the speakers and the audience. Management also fears it could change the direction of the institution, said sources with knowledge of the security situation at the center and previous recommendations, but spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
There were no security checks or metal detectors at the event, a person who witnessed the attack told CNN. The witness did not name the television station because he expressed concern for his safety.
Rushdie was stabbed by an admirer of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, NBC reported