The crazed New Jersey man who allegedly attacked Salman Rushdie in western New York last week praised Iran’s Ayatollah in an exclusive jailhouse interview with The Post on Tuesday — and admitted he didn’t think the author would live after the attack.
“When I heard he survived, I was surprised, I guess,” Hadi Matar, of Fairview, NJ, said in a video interview from the Chautauqua County Jail.
The 24-year-old wouldn’t say if he was inspired by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issuing a fatwa, or edict, calling for Rushdie’s death in 1989 over his controversial book, “The Satanic Verses,” citing a warning by his lawyer.
“I respect the Ayatollah..I think he’s a great person. That’s as far as I will say about that,” Matar said, noting he only “ read like two pages” of Rushdie’s novel.
“I read a couple pages. I didn’t read the whole thing cover to cover,” he added.
Matar denied being in contact with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and said he was inspired to go to Chautauqua after seeing a tweet announcing Rushdie’s visit sometime in the winter.
“I don’t like the person. I don’t think he’s a very good person,” he said about Rushdie. “I don’t like him. I don’t like him very much. He’s someone who attacked Islam, he attacked their beliefs, the belief systems.”