A preliminary law enforcement review of Matar’s social media accounts showed he was sympathetic to Shi’ite extremism and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), according to NBC New York.
Matar was born in California and recently moved to New Jersey, the NBC New York report said, adding that he had a fake driver’s licence on him. He was arrested at the scene by a state trooper after being wrestled to the ground by audience members.
FBI officials went to his last listed address, in Fairview, a Bergen County borough just across the Hudson River from Manhattan, on Friday evening, NBC New York reported.
Police in New York declined to comment on the report. New Jersey police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Police said on Friday they had not established a motive for the attack on Rushdie, 75, who was being introduced to give a talk to an audience of hundreds on artistic freedom when the attacker rushed to the stage and lunged at the novelist. Rushdie has lived with a bounty on his head since 1989.
Ali Tehfe, mayor of Yaroun in southern Lebanon, said Matar was the son of a man from the town. The suspect’s parents emigrated to the United States and he was born and raised there, the mayor added.
Asked whether Matar or his parents were affiliated with or supported the Iran-backed Hezbollah armed group in Lebanon, Tehfe said he had “no information at all” on their political views.
A Hezbollah official told Reuters on Saturday that the group had no additional information on the attack on Rushdie.
The stabbing was condemned by writers and politicians around the world as an assault on freedom of expression.