Hadi Matar, who attempted to murder writer Salman Rushdie last week, is believed to have had direct contact with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps via social media, Vice World News reported on Sunday. 

A Mideast intelligence source told the outlet that it was “clear” that at some point before the attack, Matar—who was born in the United States to Lebanese parents—had been in contact with “people either directly involved with or adjacent to the” IRGC’s elite Quds Force. The extent of the IRGC’s involvement in the attack remained unclear, however, the source added. 

In an interview with Daily Mail, Matar’s mother said that her son had become radicalized following a month-long trip to Lebanon in 2018. Silvana Fardos expected her son to return “motivated,” but instead he became “a moody introvert” and refused to socialize with family and friends. 

Matar, 24, appeared in court on Saturday, pleading not guilty to charges of attempted murder and assault.

He attacked Rushdie, who has long been targeted by the Iranian regime over a book he authored that offers a critical view of Islam, in western New York on Friday, stabbing him three times in the neck and four times in the stomach. 

Following hours of surgery, the Indian-born writer was on a ventilator and unable to speak as of Friday evening, according to his agent, Andrew Wylie, but a day later had regained the ability to breathe on his own. The novelist was likely to lose an eye and had nerve damage in his arm and wounds to his liver, Wylie said in an email.

The attack comes more than 30 years after Iran’s late leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for his death in response to Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses,” causing Rushdie to require round-the-clock security at various points in his life.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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