Author Rushdie awake and articulate; more details on attacker emerge
Award-winning author Salman Rushdie is awake and “articulate” in his conversations after being stabbed at least 10 times in the face, neck, and abdomen on Friday.
A law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation confirmed Rushdie’s status to CNN.
The official said the author spoke with investigators as he remains hospitalized for severe injuries.
However, it’s unclear what Rushdie told investigators.
Law enforcement official who spoke to CNN also gave updates on the suspect in the attack, 24-year-old Hadi Matar.
According to the information gathered, Matar lived in Fairview, New Jersey, traveled to Buffalo via bus, and used a ridesharing app to reach Chautauqua the day before the attack.
Investigators do not know where Matar spent the night and they are working with the institution to comb through surveillance footage to determine whether he was near the area during overnight hours.
Upon his arrest, Matar had a fake driver’s license, some cash, two Visa prepaid gift cards, and no wallet, the official told CNN.
Matar refused to answer questions from authorities when he was taken into custody and asked for an attorney, the law enforcement official said.
Public defender Nathaniel Barone, who represents Matar, told CNN his client has been “very cooperative” and communicating openly.
He pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault with intent to cause physical injury with a deadly weapon, Barone said.
Rushdie lived in hiding after his novel “The Satanic Verses” was published in 1988, drawing criticism from some Muslims who considered it sacrilegious. The late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who described the book as an insult to Islam and the faith’s Prophet Mohammed, issued a religious decree, or fatwa, calling for Rushdie’s death in 1989.
However, the motive for the attack remains unclear and authorities are sifting through items they took from Matar’s New Jersey home.
Matar, who has no documented criminal history, is accused of using a knife in the stabbing, according to a felony complaint.
Matar was described as someone who is quiet and mostly kept to himself, according to people who interacted with him at a boxing gym in North Bergen, New Jersey.
Desmond Boyle, the owner of State of Fitness Boxing Club, told CNN Matar enrolled there in April.
“You know that look, that ‘it’s the worst day of your life’ look? He came in every day like that,” Boyle stated.
The mother of Matar had also revealed that the 24-year-old “changed” after visiting Lebanon in 2018.
Speaking to Daily Mail, Matar’s mother Silvana Fardos said that her outgoing son turned into a moody and introvert person following a visit to see his father.
“I was expecting him to come back motivated, to complete school, to get his degree and a job. But instead he locked himself in the basement. He had changed a lot, he didn’t say anything to me or his sisters for months,” she told the outlet. Matar was born in the US to Lebanese parents.
Ms Fardos, 46, said Matar had banned her from entering the basement where he had locked himself up. He would sleep during the days and was awake during the night.
“One time he argued with me, asking why I encouraged him to get an education instead of focusing on religion. He was angry that I did not introduce him to Islam from a young age,” she said.
The woman further told Daily Mail that she had never heard of Mr. Rushdie before getting a frantic call from her daughter on Friday.
“I never read any of his books. I didn’t know that such a writer even exists. I had no knowledge that my son ever read his book,” said Ms Fardos.
She, however, said that the family will be moving on “without him”.
“As I said to the FBI I’m not going to bother talking to him again. He’s responsible for his actions. I have another two minors that I need to take care of. They are upset, they’re shocked. All we can do is try to move on from this, without him.”