The ‘Iranian sympathizer’ accused of trying to murder Sir Salman Rushdie kept his warped fanaticism a secret from his closest friends and family, DailyMail.com can reveal.
Hadi Matar’s shellshocked mother and siblings remained holed up in their home in Fairview, New Jersey a day after cops raided the four-bed property looking for clues in the frenzied stabbing of acclaimed author Rushdie, 75.
A close friend told DailyMail.com he trained with Hadi and spent time with his family – but didn’t detect the slightest hint of religious extremism.
‘He never referenced religion, he never referenced politics. Honestly I would never have known he was even a Muslim before I heard what happened on the news,’ the friend said.
Hadi Matar’s shellshocked mother, Silvana Fardos, 46, and three siblings remained holed up in their home in Fairview, New Jersey
On Friday, cops raided the four-bed property looking for clues in the frenzied stabbing of acclaimed author Sir Salman Rushdie, 75
Hadi Matar, 24, appeared in court and was charged with attempted murder and second degree assault, after being moved from the New York State Police barracks in Jamestown after the attack on Friday
‘He family are just very, very nice people. I don’t think they suspected a thing. They certainly didn’t know he was going to do this.’
Mom, Silvana Fardos, 46, looked anxious and close to tears as she arrived at her four-bed family home and rushed indoors without saying a word.
Hours later a young male refused to answer questions as he left the $700,000 house carrying two suitcases and drove off in a battered GMC truck.
Asked if his Lebanese-American family had any regrets or sadness over Matar’s alleged attack on Rushdie, he told DailyMail.com: ‘I don’t know him. I don’t have to answer your questions.’
A young male refused to answer questions as he left the house carrying two suitcases and drove off in a battered GMC truck
The man said told DailyMail.com: ‘I don’t know him. I don’t have to answer your questions.’
There was an air of tension around the Fairview, New Jersey home following Friday’s stabbing
The $700,000 home in Fairview, New Jersey is seen on Saturday
A woman dressed head to toe in black was equally reluctant to speak. She pulled a black hood down over her head and covered her face with a black mask before leaving on foot.
Matar, 24, has been charged with attempted murder in the second degree and assault in the second degree for Friday’s knife rampage with left which Rushdie clinging to life and likely to lose an eye.
Rushdie’s life has been under threat since the late Ayatollah Khomeini – leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution – issued a fatwa in 1989 calling for his death following publication of The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims condemned as blasphemous.
‘I didn’t know about any of that before today and I’m very surprised that he did,’ added the friend, who asked to remain anonymous.
‘He was American, normal. He didn’t do drugs or drink. I would not have guessed in a million years he could do something like this.’
Mom, Silvana Fardos, 46, looked anxious and close to tears as she arrived at her four-bed family home and rushed indoors without saying a word
Hadi Matar’s family home in New Jersey is seen with police patrol vehicle stationed outside
Matar was born in the US to Lebanese parents who emigrated from the southern border town of Yaroun, a stronghold of the Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah.
He grew up in Cudahy, California before his mom, a special aid assistant teacher and high school Arabic translator, divorced his father Hassan Matar in 2004.
Fardos filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2012 with debts of nearly $74,000 before moving to New Jersey for a new start for her and her kids, which include twin girls aged 14.
Neighbors there described the family as normal, quiet people who kept to themselves.
It’s not clear what Matar did for a living but he joined a local boxing gym three months ago before abruptly cancelling his membership last week.
‘He was very quiet, I’ve literally never heard a word come out of his mouth. He came in, he worked out, he left,’ said a trainer at the State of Fitness Boxing Club in North Bergen, New Jersey.
Matar joined a local boxing gym three months ago before abruptly cancelling his membership last week
‘He was very quiet, I’ve literally never heard a word come out of his mouth. He came in, he worked out, he left,’ said a trainer at the State of Fitness Boxing Club in North Bergen, New Jersey
‘He was not extra athletic or strong, maybe that’s why he joined?’
Matar, whose now-deleted Facebook page was plastered with pics of Iranian politicians, rushed onto the stage at a literary festival in upstate New York as Rushdie was introduced.
He stabbed the author multiple times before being pinned to the ground by horrified witnesses and apprehended by a state trooper.
Matar was understood to be using a fake drivers license under the name Hassan Mughniyah.
The current leader of Hezbollah is named Hassan Nasrallah while one of its most notorious commanders was called Imad Mughniyeh.
A woman dressed head to toe in black, with a black hood pulled over her head and a black face mask, said nothing as she left the $700,000 home where the Lebanese-American suspect lived with mom Silvana Fardos, 46, and his three younger sisters
British-born Booker Prize winning author Sir Salman Rushdie (pictured in 2019) got death threats and was issued a fatwah by Iran for his 1988 novel, the Satanic Verses. He has lived in the U.S. since 2000 and was preparing to give a lecture about America being a haven for writers in exile
It listed his address as an apartment in West New York, New Jersey, but the unit’s owner told DailyMail.com: ‘I’ve never rented to this guy. I’ve never heard of him.’
Antonio Lopa, a retired hospital worker whose house is directly opposite Matar’s home, said as many as six or seven relatives were living there with him and his mother.
He looked on in amazement Friday afternoon at least ten police vehicles swarmed the Matar residence in the wake of Rushdie’s stabbing in Chautauqua, New York.
‘To me he looked calm, he looked ok. I never saw the police over there before. You never truly know who your neighbors are – or what they’re capable of.’
People rushed to assist the author after the attack, with the attacker being restrained by witnesses. The motive for the stabbing is currently unknown
The authors suspected attacker was pinned down by witnesses and security staff moments after the attack. Rushdie’s son Zafar, 42, is aware of the incident
Mr Rushdie may lose and eye but we can not afford to lose his vision