Ohio state University attack by Somalian student kills 11
COLUMBUS,Nov29: A car and knife attack by an Ohio State University student that injured 11 people on Monday before the suspect was shot dead by a police officer is being investigated as a possible terror attack, a US congressman and another government source said.
The suspect, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was shot and killed by a police officer with less than two years on the force after driving into a group of people and then jumping out of the vehicle and stabbing people with a butcher knife at the school’s Columbus campus, said Monica Moll, director of public safety for Ohio State University.
The assailant was an immigrant from Somalia and a lawful permanent resident of the United States, two US government sources said.
Artan had spent seven years in Pakistan after leaving his native Somalia before coming to the US as a refugee two years ago.
US Representative Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said intelligence agencies were assisting in the investigation.
“It bears all of the hallmarks of a terror attack carried out by someone who may have been self-radicalized,” Schiff said in a statement.
Another US official, who asked not to be named because of the ongoing investigation, said that US agencies are investigating the Columbus attacker’s background and motivations, but cannot clearly say yet whether he had any ties to suspected militant cells or groups.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the incident by Lisa Monaco, his homeland security adviser, said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
A spokesman for Columbus’ Somali community spoke out against the attack.
“I want everyone to know that we the Somali-American community stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow Americans in condemning the sickening violence that took place in our city earlier today,” Abdi Dini, a member of the Somali community, said at a news conference in Ohio.
Anti-US posting on Facebook
Artan also appears to have made an anti-US posting on Facebook minutes before the attack, on a page that was quickly disabled or taken down by authorities, US media said.
“I can’t take it any more. America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that,” the post quoted by ABC television said, using a term referring to the global community of Muslims.
“If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace,” the post reads. “We will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims.”
Artan also referred to Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born al-Qaeda cleric, as a hero in the posting.
His shocking attack lasted just a few minutes — from the car careening into the crowd until the suspect was shot dead — but triggered a tense lockdown on the university’s main campus in Columbus, with panicked students hiding in bathrooms before the scene was declared secure.
Suspect said didn’t “even know where to pray”
The campus newspaper, The Lantern, on Monday posted on its website an interview with Artan that it had published only in print in August as part of its Humans of Ohio State feature.
In the interview, Artan, a third-year logistics management student, said he had recently transferred to Ohio State from Columbus State University. Artan talked about being a Muslim and said that Columbus State had offered more accommodations for prayer.
“We had prayer rooms, like actual rooms where we could go pray because we Muslims have to pray five times a day,” he was quoted as saying.
Artan said he was scared to pray openly on campus as a Muslim, saying that he feared that media portrayals of Muslims would give people the wrong idea about him.
“This place is huge, and I don’t even know where to pray,” he told the newspaper. “If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen. … But I just did it. … I went over to the corner and just prayed.”
Of the people injured in the attack on Monday, one was critically injured, Columbus fire officials said. Eleven people were treated at area hospitals, including 10 taken by ambulance.
“It frankly took a piece out of everybody here at our beautiful Ohio State University that this could have happened here,” Ohio Governor John Kasich said at a news conference.