Official: OSU attacker railed against the U.S.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Somali-born student who carried out the carand-knife attack at Ohio State University stewed over the treatment of Muslims while apparently staying under the radar of federal law enforcement, underscoring the difficulty authorities face in identifying and stopping lone wolves bent on violence.
Abdul Razak Ali Artan was not known to FBI counterterrorism authorities before Monday’s rampage, which ended with Artan shot to death by police and 11 people injured, a law enforcement official said.
That’s in contrast to several other recent attacks, including in New York and Orlando, Fla., in which those blamed for the bloodshed had previously cometo the attention of federal agents.
Law enforcement officials have not identified a motive for the Ohio State violence but have suggested terrorism as a possibility. FBI agents continued to search Artan’s apartment for clues.
The mode of attack — plowing a car into civilians, then slashing victims with a butcher knife — was in keeping with the recommended tactics of jihadi propaganda.
And Facebook posts that were apparently written shortly before the attack and came to light afterward show Artan nursed grievances against the U.S.
He railed against U.S. intervention in Muslim lands and warned, “If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace” with the Islamic State group.
“America! Stop interfer- Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who came to the U.S. in 2014, started classes in the fall at Ohio State in Columbus. ing with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that,” he wrote, using the Arabic term for the world’s Muslim community. He also warned that other Muslims are in sleeper cells, “waiting for a signal. I am warning you Oh America!”
The posts were recounted by a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation but wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The posts were taken down after the attack.
On Tuesday, a self-described Islamic State news agency called Artan “a soldier of the Islamic State” who “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries.”
The Islamic State group has previously described other attackers around the world as its “soldiers” without specifically claiming to have organized the acts of violence.
Artan’s social media rants seemed at odds with the portrait of the young man painted by neighbors and acquaintances.
Jack Ouham, owner of a market near the home on the outskirts of Columbus where Artan lived with his parents and siblings, saw the Ohio State student almost every day when he stopped in for snacks.
He was never angry, Ouham said. “Very nice guy. It’s just shocking to me,” he said.
Artan graduated with honors from Columbus State Community College last May, earning an associate of arts degree. A video of his graduation ceremony shows him jumping and spinning on stage and smiling broadly, drawing laughs, cheers and smiles from graduates and faculty members.
The school said he had no behavioral or disciplinary problems while he was there from the fall of 2014 until this past summer.
He started at Ohio State in August as a business student studying logistics management.
A law enforcement official said Artan came to the U.S. in 2014 as the child of a refugee. He had been living in Pakistan from 2007 to 2014. It is not uncommon for refugees to go to a third-party country before being permanently resettled.
Engineering professor William Clark, who underwent surgery for deep cuts on his leg, recalled at a news conference Tuesday being hit by the car from behind and being thrown through the air.
“When the car hit me, I really didn’t know what to think,” he said, adding he next heard screams from students. “That’s when I figured out it was more than a car accident.”
Clark’s tone toward the assailant was tempered.
“As horrible as this is, this is one of those isolated incidents,” he said.
Classes for the 60,000 students at Ohio State resumed Tuesday. Three of the victims remained hospitalized but were expected to recover.