The mother of the New Jersey man, who stabbed author Salman Rushdie at a literary event, has said that the 24-year-old “changed” after visiting Lebanon in 2018. Hadi Matar was arrested after stabbing Mr Rushdie 10 times, including in the neck and the abdomen on Friday. He rushed onto the stage as the author was about to give a lecture in New York. Matar is facing charges of attempted murder and assault, according to the New York Police Department (NYPD).
Speaking to Daily Mail, Matar’s mother Silvana Fardos said that her outgoing son turned into a moody and introvert person following a visit to see his father.
“I was expecting him to come back motivated, to complete school, to get his degree and a job. But instead he locked himself in the basement. He had changed a lot, he didn’t say anything to me or his sisters for months,” she told the outlet. Matar was born in the US to Lebanese parents.
Ms Fardos, 46, said Matar had banned her from entering the basement where he had locked himself up. He would sleep during the days and was awake during the night.
“One time he argued with me, asking why I encouraged him to get an education instead of focusing on religion. He was angry that I did not introduce him to Islam from a young age,” she said.
The woman further told Daily Mail that she had never heard of Mr Rushdie before getting a frantic call from her daughter on Friday.
“I never read any of his books. I didn’t know that such a writer even exists. I had no knowledge that my son ever read his book,” said Ms Fardos.
She, however, said that the family will be moving on “without him”.
“As I said to the FBI I’m not going to bother talking to him again. He’s responsible for his actions. I have another two minors that I need to take care of. They are upset, they’re shocked. All we can do is try to move on from this, without him.”
Matar appeared in court on Saturday where he pleaded not guilty to the charges slapped against him.
A preliminary review of Matar’s social media showed him to be sympathetic to “Shia extremism” and the causes of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC). Though there are no direct links between Matar and the IRGC, investigators reportedly found images of Iranian commander Qassem Solemani, who was assassinated in 2020, in a cell phone messaging app belonging to Matar.