Ohio State University attacker may have self-radicalized, officials say

The assailant who ploughed into pedestrians at Ohio State University on Monday and stabbed several others with a butcher’s knife may have been self-radicalized, US officials said on Tuesday.

Investigators were investigating the background of Abdul Razak Ali Artan one day after he injured 11 people in the attack on the Columbus campus where he was a student.

He was shot dead moments later by a police officer. Law enforcement officials have given no motive for the attack.

So far, investigators have found no strong evidence linking Artan to other known militant individuals, cells or groups, two federal law enforcement officials – who declined to be named because the inquiry is ongoing – told Reuters.

But on Tuesday, the Islamic State militant group said on its news agency Amaq that Artan was acting as “a soldier” on its behalf.

Four people remained hospitalized after the attack. None of the victims had life-threatening injuries, officials said, and seven people have already been released.

The officials told Reuters that Artan’s actions fit the pattern of so-called “lone wolf” militants who carried out attacks in the US, such as the gunman who shot dead 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in June, and the man who killed four US marines and a navy sailor in a shooting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, last year.

The gunmen in those two attacks were Muslim, as was Artan, and were killed by police.

Investigators were looking into a message believed to have been posted on Facebook by Artan that contained inflammatory statements about being “sick and tired” of seeing Muslims killed and reaching a “boiling point”, a law enforcement source said.

Artan, who was born in Somalia, was a lawful US permanent resident who arrived in the country in 2014, said a federal official, who also asked not to be identified.

Investigators believe Artan may have lived for as long as seven years in Pakistan, said the federal official, who also declined to be named because of the continuing investigation. Somali refugees often spend some time in Pakistan before coming to the US, another official said.

Even as they investigated the OhioState University rampage as a possible lone wolf attack, investigators were trying to assemble a full picture of Artan’s associates and recent activities, according to federal officials.

Artan was 20 years old, Craig Stone, the Ohio State University police chief, said.

The attack rattled students at the state’s flagship public university, which had been placed under a campus-wide alert as people barricaded themselves in rooms and police with rifles searched for a possible second suspect.

Leave a Reply