After the author Salman Rushdie was stabbed on Friday at Chautauqua Institution in western New York, state and federal investigators were trying to determine the suspect’s motivation, plans, communication and movements as Mr. Rushdie remained in a precarious condition on Saturday.
Mr. Rushdie, who had spent decades under proscription by Iran, was on a ventilator after undergoing hours of surgery and could not speak, Andrew Wylie, his agent, said in an email on Friday evening.
A video on TikTok that was subsequently taken down showed the chaotic scene on Friday, moments after the attacker had jumped onto the stage at the normally placid center for intellectual discourse. Mr. Rushdie, who had been living relatively openly after years of a semi-clandestine existence, had just taken a seat to give a talk when a man attacked him.
A crowd of people immediately rushed to where the author lay on the stage to offer aid. Stunned members of the audience could be seen throughout the amphitheater. While some were screaming, others got up and moved slowly toward the stage. People started to congregate in the aisles. A person could be heard yelling “Oh, my God” repeatedly.
A sheriff’s deputy and another law enforcement officer with a dog ran to the scene about a minute later.
Mr. Rushdie was stabbed at least once in the neck and at least once in the abdomen, the police said. Mr. Wylie said on Friday that the author’s condition was “not good.” Mr. Rushdie might lose an eye, his liver had been damaged and the nerves in his arm were severed, he said.
Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old New Jersey man, was arrested at the scene. The New York State Police said at a news conference on Friday afternoon that there was no indication of Mr. Matar’s motive, but that they were working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. F.B.I. agents visited Mr. Matar’s home later in the day.
The state police did not respond to a request for comment on Saturday morning. A spokeswoman for UPMC Hamot in Erie, Pa., where Mr. Rushdie is being treated, said the hospital does not provide information on patient conditions. Efforts to reach Mr. Wylie were unsuccessful.
Mr. Rushdie had been living under the threat of an assassination attempt since 1989, about six months after the publication of his novel “The Satanic Verses.” The book fictionalized parts of the life of the Prophet Muhammad with depictions that offended some Muslims, who believed the novel to be blasphemous. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who led Iran after its 1979 revolution, issued an edict known as a fatwa on Feb. 14, 1989. It ordered Muslims to kill Mr. Rushdie.
In 1991, the novel’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death and its Italian translator was badly wounded. The novel’s Norwegian publisher was shot three times in 1993 outside his home in Oslo and was seriously injured.
Elizabeth Harris contributed reporting.