Salman was temporarily put on a ventilator while in the hospital, according to the agent, who also told The New York Times shortly after the attack that “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”
The stabbing suspect, New Jersey man Hadi Matar, has since been arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Police are investigating the motive for the attack, which took place more than 30 years after Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a “fatwa” on Salman, calling on Muslims around the world to kill the author over his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, which the supreme leader condemned as blasphemous. The author lived in hiding for several years after the religious edict was issued. Iran’s government officially maintained it after the Ayatollah’s death until 1998.
A preliminary law enforcement review of the stabbing suspect’s social media accounts showed he is sympathetic to Shia extremism and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps causes, a law enforcement person with direct knowledge of the investigation told NBC News.
(E! and NBC News are part of the NBCUniversal family.)
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