A portrait of the Ohio State University attacker as an Islamic State-motivated lone wolf emerged from his Facebook posts as authorities investigated whether the Somali-born student’s car-and-knife rampage was an act of terrorism.
“If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace” with the Islamic State, Abdul Razak Ali Artan posted on Facebook, according to a law enforcement official.
The posts from Artan’s account came to light after Monday’s violence, which left 11 people injured. Investigators are looking into whether it was a terrorist attack.
“America! Stop interfering 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.
“Every single Muslim who disapproves of my actions is a sleeper cell, waiting for a signal. I am warning you Oh America!” Artan also wrote.
Dozens of FBI agents began searching Artan’s apartment for clues to what set off the rampage.
Even with the gains made by Iraqi and Kurdish forces in demolishing the Islamic State’s nascent caliphate, there is likely “no end in sight” to the threat posed by self-radicalized terrorists on U.S. soil, a security expert said.
“There is a brilliance in the simplicity. You don’t have to be in Mosul. You don’t have to be on the battlefield to carry out one of these attacks,” said Fred Burton, vice president of intelligence at Stratfor, a global intelligence firm. “The frightening aspect of this is it doesn’t take much: just a car and a knife.
“What happened in Ohio State could, unfortunately, happen at any campus across our country,” Burton said.
Burton said it looks as though the attack was carried out with little to no planning, since it appears to have happened soon after Artan took to Facebook.
In Monday’s attack, Artan drove a car up onto a sidewalk and plowed into a group of pedestrians shortly before 10 a.m. He then got out and began stabbing people with a butcher knife before he was shot to death by a campus police officer. Most of the victims were hurt by the car, and two had been stabbed, officials said. One had a fractured skull. Three remained hospitalized yesterday.
Engineering professor William Clark, who underwent surgery for deep cuts on his leg, recalled 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,” Clark said. He next heard screams from students. “That’s when I figured out it was more than a car accident.”
Yesterday, 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.”
A law enforcement official said Artan came to the United States 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.
Upon arriving in the U.S., Artan was referred for a secondary Customs and Border Protection inspection, but nothing abnormal was found, a U.S. official said.
Herald wire services contributed to this report.
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