OSU at­tacker may have been in­spired by Is­lamic State

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY ANDREA NOBLE

The Ohio State Univer­sity stu­dent who at­tacked pedes­tri­ans on cam­pus with a car and knife may have been in­spired by the late al Qaeda cleric An­war al-Awlaki and the Is­lamic State, but au­thor­i­ties said it is too soon to defini­tively call the at­tack ter­ror­ism.

FBI of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day the bu­reau had no prior knowl­edge of or con­tact with Ab­dul Razak Ali Ar­tan, who in­jured 11 peo­ple in Mon­day’s at­tack.

The So­mali-born stu­dent plowed a car into a group of pedes­tri­ans on cam­pus, then be­gan stab­bing oth­ers with a butcher knife Mon­day morn­ing. A cam­pus police of­fi­cer fa­tally shot Ar­tan af­ter he ig­nored or­ders to drop the knife.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors have in­ter­viewed dozens of fam­ily mem­bers, neigh­bors and co­work­ers who knew Ar­tan and were re­view­ing his elec­tronic de­vices in an at­tempt to learn more about his mo­ti­va­tion for the at­tack and de­ter­mine the de­gree to which it may have been pre­med­i­tated. Ar­tan was a So­mali refugee who came to the United States af­ter he and his fam­ily had spent sev­eral years in Pak­istan.

Of­fi­cials are in­ves­ti­gat­ing the au­then­tic­ity of a post made on Ar­tan’s Face­book page the day of the at­tack that was crit­i­cal of the treat­ment of Mus­lims. FBI Spe­cial Agent in Charge An­gela By­ers noted that even if the post had been brought to agents’ at­ten­tion, they would have had a lim­ited amount of time to in­ves­ti­gate as it was made the morn­ing of the at­tack.

“It ap­pears Ar­tan may have at least been in­spired by An­war al-Awlaki and the Is­lamic State of the Le­vant,” Ms. By­ers said, adding that in­ves­ti­ga­tors are not aware of the in­volve­ment of any­one else in the at­tack.

The U.S.-born al-Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011, hav­ing been iden­ti­fied by U.S. in­tel­li­gence as “chief of ex­ter­nal op­er­a­tions” for al Qaeda’s Ye­men branch and a web-savvy pro­pa­gan­dist for Is­lamists.

The Is­lamic State’s me­dia arm claimed Tues­day that Ar­tan was “a sol­dier” with the ter­ror­ist group. Ms. By­ers said Wed­nes­day that the group of­ten claims al­le­giance of in­di­vid­u­als af­ter they are dead and can­not re­fute or ver­ify the claim.

Colum­bus Police Deputy Chief Michael Woods said in­ves­ti­ga­tors have de­ter­mined that Ar­tan bought a knife at a lo­cal Wal-Mart store the morn­ing of the at­tack, but de­clined to say whether it was the same knife he used to stab sev­eral peo­ple.

Cit­ing anony­mous sources, NBC News re­ported that Ar­tan also was be­lieved to have driven to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., the week be­fore the at­tack and to have bought a dif­fer­ent knife at a Home De­pot in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors asked for help in learn­ing more about Ar­tan’s move­ments on the day of the at­tack. Surveil­lance video shows him driv­ing a car onto cam­pus that morn­ing, but of­fi­cials are look­ing to piece to­gether ad­di­tional stops he may have made in be­tween pur­chas­ing the knife Mon­day morn­ing and driv­ing to school.

“We want to fill in any time not ac­counted for,” Ms. By­ers said.

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