The New Jersey man charged with stabbing famed novelist Salman Rushdie had been in direct contact with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on social media prior to Friday’s attack, according to a report.
Hadi Matar, 24, had communicated with “people either directly involved with or adjacent to” the Revolutionary Guard’s external operations force, Vice reported, citing a Middle Eastern intelligence official.
Other security officials cited by the outlet wouldn’t elaborate on the nature of Matar’s reported contact with the Revolutionary Guard, including who initiated the contact or when it took place.
“It’s unclear the extent of the involvement, if this was a directly supported assassination attempt or if it was a series of suggestions and directions in picking a target,” the Middle Eastern official reportedly said.
Law enforcement sources told The Post last week that initial investigations suggested Matar had previously made social media posts in support of Iran and its Revolutionary Guard.
Rushdie, 75, has been the subject of death threats from the Iranian regime since the late 1980s after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa, or Islamic edict, demanding the author’s slaying.
An Iranian official on Monday denied Tehran was involved in Rushdie’s stabbing, but sought to justify the attack.
“Regarding the attack against Salman Rushdie in America, we don’t consider anyone deserving reproach, blame or even condemnation, except for (Rushdie) himself and his supporters,” said Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani.
“In this regard, no one can blame the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added. “We believe that the insults made and the support he received was an insult against followers of all religions.”
Matar pleaded not guilty on Saturday to attempted murder and assault charges — a day after he stormed the stage at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York and allegedly stabbed Rushdie multiple times.
Rushdie suffered a damaged liver and severed nerves in an arm and an eye that he was likely to lose, according to his agent, Andrew Wylie.
The agent later confirmed the author of “The Satanic Verses” was removed from a ventilator on Saturday and was able to talk.
New York State Police have not yet revealed a motive in the attack.
Matar is being held without bail after District Attorney Jason Schmidt described the ordeal as a “targeted, unprovoked, preplanned attack.”