New York State Police Troop Commander Major Eugene J. Staniszewski identified author Salman Rushdie’s alleged attacker as 24-year-old New Jersey resident Hadi Matar.
Matar is currently in police custody.
Staniszewski pointed out that Matar was in possession of a pass to be on the grounds of Chautauqua Institution and to the lecture. The man is yet to be charged.
It should be noted that the Chautauqua Institution has been described by news agencies as a place ‘for reflection and spiritual guidance’. There are no metal detectors and baggage checks.
There are also centuries-old cottages on site whose residents often leave the doors unlocked.
News outlets reported that FBI agents were seen entering the address where Matar was residing.
The police said the charges will be levelled against him depending on Rushdie’s condition.
Bystanders who rushed to give Rushdie first-aid after Matar stabbed him multiple times told news agencies that Matar attacked the author while he was speaking to the interviewer Henry Reese.
They said it took almost five people to free Rushdie and Reese from the hold of Matar who kept stabbing Rushdie in a frenzied manner. According to the NBC, he was sympathetic to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, founded by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who issued several fatwas against the author.
Matar was waiting for the opportune moment to attack Rushdie. The event at the Chautauqua Institution began around 10:45am as Rushdie and Reese entered the stage. Shortly after the discussions began, Matar rushed on stage and started stabbing Rushdie.
Bystanders said that the attack lasted for about 20 seconds. Members of the audience were ushered out of the venue almost immediately.
The author could lose one of his eyes, his agent Andrew Wylie said.
His agent also said that Rushdie suffered injuries to the nerves on his arm and his liver. He is not speaking and remains on a ventilator at a hospital in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Ahead of the event, authorities dispatched a state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy to the venue. It was the state trooper who arrested Matar.
The other visitors who were attending the event said that the security could have been tighter. They said that the police should have taken note of the fact that there were fatwas issued against Rushdie and that should have been kept in mind while preparing for the event.
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