Author Salman Rushdie is currently undergoing surgery after being stabbed "10 to 15 times" before a planned speech at a New York literary fair. The incident occurred near Buffalo and the attacker managed to punch and stab Rushdie several times before being pinned down and then taken into custody.
The attack hasn't been directly linked to the existing fatwa or death threats Rushdie received in the late '80s, with the Ayatollah of Iran issuing the directive in 1989. After the stabbing, Rushdie was airlifted to the hospital and rushed to surgery. His representatives had no update on his condition.
BREAKING: Author Salman Rushdie has been attacked as he was about to give a lecture in western New York. An @AP reporter witnessed a man storm the stage at the Chautauqua Institution and begin punching or stabbing Rushdie as he was being introduced. https://t.co/bVTbfkLjyL— The Associated Press (@AP) August 12, 2022
Police named the suspect in the attack as 24-year-old Hadi Matar. According to The Guardian, officials believe he was acting alone and haven't discovered any clear motives yet. Members of the audience were first to take down the attacker before police arrived on the scene.
"He was covered with blood and there was blood running down onto the floor," eyewitness Roger Warner said in reports. "I just saw blood all around his eyes and running down his cheek."
Rushdie's son, Zafar, is aware of the incident and is being kept up to date on his father's condition while in London. Security at the event has been criticized as "lax" and witnesses noted how loose security seemed given recent events and Rushdie's history.
"There was a huge security lapse. That somebody could get that close without any intervention was frightening," another witness added. An usher at the CHQ 2022 event in Chautauqua, New York confirmed the security concerns while others pointed at the default vulnerabilities for the location. "It's very open, it's very accessible, it's a very relaxed environment, in my opinion something like this was just waiting to happen," Kyle Doershuk, 20, told outlets. "This guy ran on to platform and started pounding on Mr. Rushdie. At first, you're like, "What's going on?'" Rabbi Charles Savenor said about the attack, noting it lasted around 20 seconds total. "And then it became abundantly clear in a few seconds that he was being beaten."
Rushdie is still in surgery according to the most up-to-date reports. We will continue to add information as it becomes available.