Become Express Subscriber
Advertisement

What we know of Rushdie’s attacker Hadi Matar so far: Lebanese-descent resident of New Jersey, sympathetic to Iran

Hadi Matar was born almost a decade after the fatwa to kill Rushdie was issued, and Ayatollah Khomeini passed away. The evidence in Matar’s cell phone linking him to the Revolutionary Guard, however, suggests that he may have been driven by the fatwa.

Law enforcement officers detain Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, N.J., outside the Chautauqua Institution, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022, in Chautauqua, N.Y. (AP/PTI)

Salman Rushdie was attacked at New York’s Chautauqua Institution on Friday (August 12) morning (in the United States) by a 24-year-old man called Hadi Matar. The author has been put on a ventilator in hospital, he is unable to speak, the nerves in his arms have been “severed”, his liver has been “stabbed and damaged”, and he might lose an eye, his agent told reporters.

Rushdie has been living under a fatwa issued by Iran’s former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini since 1989, after some parts of his 1988 novel ‘The Satanic Verses’, were deemed blasphemous. In July 1991, Hitoshi Igarashi, the novel’s Japanese translator, was stabbed dead in Japan, and its Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was injured in a knife attack in Milan. In October 1993, the Norwegian publisher of ‘The Satanic Verses’, William Nygaard, was shot and wounded in Oslo.

In 1998, Iran’s then President Mohammad Khatami said his country no longer supported Rushdie killing. But the fatwa has not been officially withdrawn, and Iran’s current Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying a few years ago that the fatwa for Rushdie’s killing was “fired like a bullet that won’t rest until it hits its target”.

Who is Hadi Matar, the man who attacked Salman Rushdie?

Matar, 24, is a resident of Fairview, New Jersey, a state neighbouring New York. He was born in the United States to Lebanese parents who emigrated from Yaroun in southern Lebanon, the mayor of Yaroun, Ali Tehfe, told The Associated Press and Reuters. NBC News reported that an analysis of Matar’s social media accounts by law enforcement showed him to be sympathetic to Shia extremism and the causes of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an ideologically-driven branch of the Iranian armed forces committed to protecting the country’s Islamic system from hostile foreign powers and internal dissensions.

Subscriber Only Stories
Premium
Premium
Premium
Premium

NBC News reported that officers had found pictures of Qasem Soleimani, the charismatic former head of the Quds Force, a wing of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who was assassinated by the US in Baghdad in January 2020, on a cell phone messaging app belonging to Matar.

But why did Hadi Matar attack Salman Rushdie?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other investigative agencies in the US are yet to make a statement on Matar’s motive. It is also not clear whether Matar himself has Iranian origins or nationality. CBS news also quoted Major Eugene Staniszewski of the New York State Police as saying the suspect had a pass to the event grounds at Chautauqua Institution like other members of the audience.

Matar was born almost a decade after the fatwa to kill Rushdie was issued, and Ayatollah Khomeini himself passed away. The evidence in Matar’s cell phone linking him to the Revolutionary Guard, however, suggests that he may have been driven by the fatwa.

Advertisement

‘The Satanic Verses’ was banned in Iran in 1988. Many Muslims continue to be offended by the controversial passages in the book, and bounties have been announced for killing him from time to time, and the author has faced death threats for decades.

An official from Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese armed group, told Reuters on Saturday (August 13) that the group had no additional information on the attack on Rushdie. “We don’t know anything about this subject so we will not comment,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. The Reuters report also quoted Yaroun’s Mayor Ali Tehfe as saying he had “no information at all” on whether Matar or his parents were affiliated with or supported Hezbollah, or on the political views of the family.

First published on: 13-08-2022 at 03:51:12 pm
Next Story

YouTube plans to launch streaming video service: Report

Home
ePaper
Next Story
X