Ohio State University attacker Abdul Artan was described as a “sweet boy” by a family friend as ISIS claimed responsibility for the horror he unleashed on the Columbus, Ohio campus. Artan, a Somali refugee, slashed 11 people with a butcher knife after running his car into a crowd.
ISIS called Abdul Artan a “soldier” for their cause via social media on Monday, according to the New York Times. Artan’s family claims they had no clue the young man was planning a terror attack at OSU or had become radicalized,
“He was a sweet boy,” a friend of the Artan family said during an interview with the Daily Mail. “This is not anything that we teach our people. We are just as shocked as everyone else. His family are in mourning. They cannot understand how this horrible situation happened. It’s just so unexpected.”
— OSU Police (@OSUPOLICE) November 28, 2016
“The executor of the attack in the American state of Ohio is a soldier of the Islamic State,” the ISIS claim of responsibility for the OSU attack, reportedly said. “He carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries.”
The Ohio State University attacker grew up in Somalia but fled with his family to Pakistan in 2007. He, his mother, and six siblings, arrived as Somali refugees in the United States in 2014. Columbus reportedly has a growing Somali community. Artan went to an Ohio community college before being accepted at OSU.
Although the family source claims the Abdul Artan being shown on television is not the 18-year-old man his friends and relatives knew, the Ohio State University student did post radical Islamic rhetoric on Facebook before going on the bloody rampage.
“We are really sorry about the victims. We apologize and we really hope that they recover,” the family source added.
Artan posted about his angst over the alleged mistreatment of Muslims in America and heralded al-Qaeda cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki as a “hero.” The OSU attacker is a naturalized United States citizen.
ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2016
Abdul Artan’s mother, Fatimah Artan, 51, has not reportedly been spotted in public since Columbus police officers raided the $950-per-month townhouse the family rented in the downtown area.
Hassan Omar, the Director of the Ohio Somali Muslim Association, said Abdul Artan’s mother is “devastated” by her son’s actions. Omar also stated the OSU student’s mother is “shocked” about the attack.
Omar added he did not know the Ohio State University attacker or his family before the butcher knife attack. He urged the Columbus community to remain calm and to view the bloody incident as an isolated incident.
“This doesn’t speak for the Somali people, this is something we absolutely condemn and are shocked that such an awful thing could happen,” Omar continued. “It’s something that has rocked our community, especially since we’ve worked hard to establish ourselves in Columbus, Ohio, which has been very welcoming to us.”
The Ohio Somali Muslim Association director said he is not aware of any radicalism in Columbus – but feared the OSU attack might prompt copycat attacks.
“This was the first case of this here, and we’ve never had any issues like there’s been in Europe or the UK,” Omar continued. “It’s left us very worried, and we just have to be very wary that the internet can be a dangerous tool for people who can be easily influenced.”
Omar also believes the internet is where the radicalization began for Abdul Artan. The Muslim association director feels “better control of what is available for people that could be persuaded to carry out such threats,” need to be enacted.
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) November 29, 2016
The Somali refugee reportedly worked at a Columbus Home Depot store and was said to have worshiped at the Abubakar Asiddiq Islamic Center. The center reportedly has a congregation of about 2,000 Muslims. The facility director, Horsed Noor, said he personally knows all of the youth who attend the center but maintained he could not place Abdul Artan.
The Abubakar Asiddiq Islamic Center hosts “Meet a Muslim” events to help the congregation integrate into the Columbus community and also organizes seminars to warn members about the dangers of radicalization.
“We live at a time when people can be radicalized in their bedrooms or at any time,” Noor added.
Neighbors of the Artan family have claimed as many as eight people lived inside the two-bedroom townhouse located only a few blocks from the Ohio State University campus. At least one neighbor claimed there was a lot of foot traffic in and out of the townhouse, which she further alleged was filthy inside.
Artan Abdul was reportedly known as the primary communicator for the family because he spoke the most English, neighbors also told reporters.
[Featured Image by John Minchillo/AP Images]