WATCH: Rushdie Knifeman Taken Down by Audience Members, Carried Fake ID in Name of Hezbollah Leader

The suspected stabber of Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie, Hadi Matar, reportedly expressed sympathies for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard of Iran and carried a fake driver’s licence bearing the name of a Hezbollah leader tied to the assassinated Iranian general Qassim Soleimani.

Hadi Matar, 24, is currently believed to have relocated to Bergen, New Jersey, just across the river from Manhattan, from California.

Following the stabbing of Indian-born author Salman Rushdie, who has British and American citizenship, at a speaking event on Friday in Chautauqua, NY, Matar was taken in by authorities and had his New Jersey home raided by the FBI.

The alleged attacker was said to be carrying a fake New Jersey driver’s licence bearing the name of “Hassan Mughnaiyah,” which is notable as the surname is the same as that of Imad Mughniyah, who served as the second-highest ranking member of the Shia Islamist Hezbollah paramilitary organisation before being assassinated by the CIA in Syria in 2008, The Telegraph reports.

Mughnaiyah was also a close ally of former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) general Qassim Soleimani, who was killed in a targeted drone strike at the behest of President Donald Trump in Iraq in 2020.

According to the local NBC New York 4 affiliate, an official close to the investigation revealed that a law enforcement scan of Hadi Matar’s social media accounts indicated a sympathy towards radical Shia movements, including the IRGC, yet, at present, there have been no actual links between the alleged attacker and any extremist group established.

His Facebook account, which has since been taken down, also reportedly featured pictures celebrating Iran’s late Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, who first issued the fatwa (death sentence) against Salman Rushdie in 1989 over the supposedly blasphemous nature of The Satanic Verses.

His successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, has maintained the fatwa.

Footage from the attack on Rushdie showed audience members rushing the stage to come to the author’s aid and detain the knifeman:

The Satanic Verses drew the ire of many Muslims, who considered the work blasphemous over a character within the text believed to have been a mockery of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed.

Aside from the fatwa against Rushdie himself, attackers have also targeted translators of the work, including a Japanese assistant professor who was stabbed to death in Tokyo in 1991 and an Italian translator who survived a stabbing at his home in Milan. A Norwegian publisher of the book was also shot three times in 1993, but he also survived.

The publication of The Satanic Verses also sparked riots across the Muslim world which claimed the lives of at least 45 people.

The call for his death by the Ayatollah saw Rushdie go into hiding in Britain, where he now holds citizenship, but nine years he emerged and began to engage with the public more often — though typically with a personal guard for his protection.

Commenting after the attack in New York, where he has lived for many years, the 75-year-old author’s agent Andrew Wylie said that Rushdie has since been placed on a ventilator and is unable to speak.

“Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” the agent added.

In a report covering the stabbing, Iranian state media outlet Islamic Republic News Agency condemned Rushdie as an “apostate author” who published a “blasphemous novel about Islam”.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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