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Man Indicted on Terrorism Charges for Attack on Author Salman Rushdie

Man Indicted on Terrorism Charges for Attack on Author Salman Rushdie
Man Indicted on Terrorism Charges for Attack on Author Salman Rushdie

Hadi Matar, the 26-year-old accused of the brutal 2022 attack that left author Salman Rushdie blind in one eye, now faces terrorism charges. Prosecutors assert that Matar intended to kill Rushdie to show allegiance to Hezbollah, an Iranian-supported militant group.

Attorney General Merrick Garland highlighted that Matar’s assault in New York was an act of terrorism linked to Hezbollah, reaffirming the Justice Department’s resolve to bring to justice those who carry out violence for terrorist causes.

Salman Rushdie, an author who has been a target of Iranian ire since the publication of his controversial book, The Satanic Verses, in 1988, faced a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Khomeini calling for his execution. This longstanding threat materialized when Matar allegedly provided material assistance to Hezbollah between September 2020 and August 2022 by attempting to fulfill this fatwa.

Man Indicted on Terrorism Charges for Attack on Author Salman Rushdie

Man Indicted on Terrorism Charges for Attack on Author Salman Rushdie

The indictment, returned by a New Jersey grand jury, specifically accuses Matar of acting in response to a speech by Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, who reaffirmed support for the fatwa against Rushdie in 2006.

Rushdie, now 77, was attacked on August 12, 2022, at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, where he was scheduled to give a speech. Matar allegedly traveled to the event with the intent to murder Rushdie, who sustained severe injuries, including loss of sight in one eye and the use of one hand.

Following the attack, Rushdie underwent surgery and was placed on a ventilator. He later chronicled this harrowing experience in his memoir Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder, published in April.

Besides the federal indictment in New Jersey, Matar also faces charges in New York. His trial there, initially set for January, was delayed to allow his legal team to review Rushdie’s book and notes. If convicted under the New Jersey indictment, Matar could be sentenced to life in prison. He was arraigned and is being held pending a detention hearing.

Rushdie’s life has been profoundly impacted by the fatwa, forcing him into hiding for years. Others associated with his book have also suffered; the Italian translator, Ettore Capriolo, was stabbed in 1991 and survived, while the Japanese translator, Hitoshi Igarashi, was killed shortly thereafter.

Additionally, the Norwegian publisher, William Nygaard, was shot in 1993 but survived. This string of violence underscores the enduring and deadly influence of the fatwa issued against Rushdie and those connected to his work.

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