Salman Rushdie, whose novel “The Satanic Verses” drew death threats from  Iran’s leader in the 1980s, was stabbed in the neck and abdomen Friday  by a man who rushed the stage as the author was about to give a lecture  in western New York. 

A bloodied Rushdie, 75, was flown to a hospital and underwent surgery.  His agent, Andrew Wylie, said the writer was on a ventilator Friday  evening, with a damaged liver, severed nerves in an arm and an eye he  was likely to lose. 

Police identified the attacker as Hadi Matar, 24, of Fairview, New  Jersey. He was arrested at the scene and was awaiting arraignment. State  police Maj. Eugene Staniszewski said the motive for the stabbing was  unclear. 

An Associated Press reporter witnessed the attacker confront Rushdie on  stage at the Chautauqua Institution and punch or stab him 10 to 15 times  as he was being introduced. The author was pushed or fell to the floor,  and the man was arrested. 

Dr. Martin Haskell, a physician who was among those who rushed to help, described Rushdie’s wounds as “serious but recoverable.”

Event moderator Henry Reese, 73, a co-founder of an organization that  offers residencies to writers facing persecution, was also attacked. 

Reese suffered a facial injury and was treated and released from a  hospital, police said. He and Rushdie were due to discuss the United  States as a refuge for writers and other artists in exile. 

A state trooper and a county sheriff’s deputy were assigned to Rushdie’s  lecture, and state police said the trooper made the arrest. But after  the attack,  

some longtime visitors to the center questioned why there wasn’t tighter  security for the event, given the decades of threats against Rushdie  and a bounty on his head offering more than $3 million for anyone who  kills him. 

Rabbi Charles Savenor was among the roughly 2,500 people in the  audience. Amid gasps, spectators were ushered out of the outdoor  amphitheater.