Hadi Matar: Salman Rushdie attack suspect praises Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini in jailhouse interview
Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey man, who is the suspected attacker of British author Salman Rushdie, praised Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in an exclusive jailhouse interview with The Post on Wednesday (August 17). Matar pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault.
Admitting that he believed the author would not survive, Matar said in a video interview from the Chautauqua County Jail: "When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess."
The acclaimed author is currently recovering in the hospital after he was stabbed multiple times last Friday during an event at the Chautauqua Institution in New York state.
The attacker, Hadi Matar of Fairview, NJ, allegedly rushed to the stage and stabbed Rushdie, who received life-threatening injuries and underwent emergency surgery.
Because of his infamous novel "The Satanic Verses", Rushdie spent years hiding under death threats from Iran. The novel was banned in many countries with large Muslim populations.
But in a recent interview from prison, Matar told the Post that he had only "read a couple of pages" of "The Satanic Verses". He also said that a tweet in the winter announcing the author's visit to the Chautauqua Institution gave him the idea of going there.
"I respect the Ayatollah. I think he's a great person. That's as far as I will say about that. I don't like him [Salman Rushdie] very much," The Post cited Matar as saying in a video.
"He's someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems," Matar added in the video and also said that he had watched YouTube videos of Rushdie. The media outlet reported that Matar denied being in contact with Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
"I was hanging around pretty much. Not doing anything in particular, just walking around. I was just outside the whole time," he told the Post, adding that he had slept on the grass on Thursday night.