'Chilling': Salman Rushdie's alleged attacker's days before the stabbing

By Matthew Chapman

Salman Rushdie, (andersphoto / Shutterstock.com)

On Monday, The Daily Beast revealed new details about the personal life of Hadi Matar, the man accused of the brutal stabbing attack against Salman Rushdie at an event in Chautauqua, New York last week — and what he did in the hours beforehand.

"Three days before Hadi Matar allegedly rushed the stage at a literary event to brutally attack British-Indian author Salman Rushdie, the 24-year-old wrote a late-night email to his New Jersey gym to cancel his membership," reported Pilar Melendez. "'Hey this is Hadi,' Matar wrote in an Aug. 9 email to the State of Fitness Boxing Club at 1:31 a.m. 'I was going tk [sic] ask if you guys can disable autopay for me right now. As I won’t be able to make it back to the gym right now. Thanks.'"

"The email, obtained by The Daily Beast, also showcased Matar’s avatar: the Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the former supreme leader of Iran who issued a call to all Muslims — or a fatwa — to kill Rushdie over three decades ago," said the report. "'I didn’t even think anything of it when I first saw the avatar,' the gym’s owner Rosaria Calabrese told The Daily Beast on Monday. 'Now it’s chilling, given what happened.'" She went on to add that Matar was a beginner at the gym, and that “He was friendly and nice but he wasn’t chatty or social. He just did his thing and then left.”

Rushdie, who attracted the wrath of the ayatollah over his book "The Satanic Verses," initially had to be put on a ventilator with severe damage to his eye, arm, and liver. He is now recovering, but is likely to lose an eye.

"While one of Matar’s former high school classmates previously told The Daily Beast that he was shocked to hear that the 'very devout Muslim' could have engaged in such violence — his mother revealed on Sunday his spiral into extremism," said the report. "In a Sunday interview with The Daily Mail, Silvana Fardos said that while she was 'shell shocked' that her 'quiet' son could be accused of such an awful crime, she did note that her son changed after a 2018 month-long trip to Lebanon to visit his father. While she thought the trip would motivate him 'to complete school, to get his degree and a job,' Fardos admitted that instead Matar 'locked himself in the basement' and isolated himself from society. She added that her son would cook his own meals and live a nocturnal lifestyle."

Nathaniel Barone, the attorney representing Matar, declined to give much comment, saying, “It’s so early in the process at this point we are gathering information and trying to confirm the information we are given.”

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