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Salman Rushdie attack suspect arrested on charges of attempted murder and assault

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The man suspected of stabbing Salman Rushdie while on a lecture stage in upstate New York has been arrested on charges of second-degree attempted murder for assaulting the acclaimed novelist and second-degree assault for wounding the moderator of the event, the state police said on Saturday.

The suspect — identified as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New Jersey — was held without bail at the Chautauqua County Jail.

Rushdie, 75, had surgery after being stabbed at least once in the neck and abdomen during the Friday morning attack, police said. The author was on stage to speak at the Chautauqua Institute, about 70 miles south of Buffalo, when authorities said Matar confronted him.

Rushdie’s literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said Friday night that he had a damaged liver, severed nerves in an arm and an eye, and was on a ventilator. The Associated Press reported:. An update on his condition was not immediately available.

Henry Reese, 73, who was also onstage to lead the discussion with Rushdie, suffered minor facial injuries during the attack, police said. He was treated and released.

Rushdie caused controversy for his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses,” which depicted the life of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and is considered blasphemous by some Muslims. In Iran, the book was banned and prompted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to issue a fatwa or edict calling for Rushdie’s death.

Authorities have not given a motive for the attack.

A preliminary assessment of Matar’s social media shows that he sympathized with Shia extremism and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, said a law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the investigation.

Matar was detained after Chautauqua Institute staff and other guests stormed the stage, police said.

In addition, the location had bolstered its law enforcement presence for high-profile events, according to New York State Police Major Eugene Staniszewski, explaining why a trooper and deputy sheriff were able to mobilize quickly on the spot.

“They asked for law enforcement officers to be present,” Staniszewski told reporters on Friday. “And luckily we were.”

Jonathan Service and Brittany Kubicko contributed.

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