The Islamic State (also referred to as ISIS) claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the Ohio State University attack that wounded 11 people. The attack happened Monday morning when the perpetrator, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a student at OSU, drove a car onto a campus lawn, exited the vehicle, and began chasing students with a knife. None of the victims were killed, but Artan was shot moments after the attack began.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, the media arm for the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Ohio State University attack on Tuesday. The Islamic State’s main media outlet, AMAQ News released a statement about the OSU attack. “The executor of the attack in the American state of Ohio is a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries,” the statement said.
Although the Islamic State claimed to have influenced Artan, the terrorist group has a history of attaching their name to “lone wolf” attacks. New York Times writer Rukmini Callimachi explained the phenomena on Twitter, posting a picture of a chat by ISIS soldiers asking if Artan was an Islamic State fighter. ISIS also claimed responsibility for the attack on Pulse, a nightclub in Florida, where Omar Mateen killed 49 people in another lone wolf attack.
ISIS may take responsibility for the Ohio State University attack, but Reuters reports that a federal officer, who asked not to be identified, said that there is no evidence that ISIS was directly involved in Artan’s assault on OSU. Artan was most likely radicalized online instead of having contact with ISIS cells or soldiers.
According to ABC News, ISIS has been encouraging individuals to try car and knife attacks in lieu of bombs because there is less of a chance of getting caught. ISIS promoters believe the attack in Nice, France, which killed 84 people, is a useful template for killing as many people as possible in a public space. In a possibly unrelated event, Artan’s attack came only two days after ISIS posted a video describing how to kill non-believers with a knife, similar to the attack at OSU.
Artan, a Somali immigrant who was a naturalized citizen, expressed fear of being discriminated against for being Muslim in an interview with the Ohio State University newspaper, The Lantern. Artan said in the interview, “I wanted to pray in the open, but I was scared with everything going on in the media. I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. 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 don’t blame them. It’s the media that put that picture in their heads so they’re just going to have it and it, it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed.”
The Ohio State University attacker’s words have become chilling in the days since the college attack. Artan’s words about Muslim discrimination were echoed in his last Facebook post before the OSU attack. “If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace,” the post read. “We will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims.” All of Artan’s Facebook posts have since been removed by the social media site.
Artan emigrated from Somalia in 2007 and lived in Pakistan for seven years. He then moved with his family to the United States in 2014. Artan’s attack at Ohio State University follows a pattern a militant, “lone wolf” attacks in the United States including the mass shooting at Pulse in June of this year and the man who killed four United States Marines and a Navy sailor in a Chatanooga, Tennessee shooting last year.
The investigation into Artan’s Ohio State University assault is ongoing. As of Tuesday, one of the 11 people that were injured at OSU is still in the hospital.
[Featured Image by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images]