The Somali college student who used a vehicle and a butcher knife to attack people at Ohio State University (OSU) this week was inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and deceased Yemeni-American al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, according to the FBI.
“At this time, we are not aware of anyone else being involved in the planning of this attack, but the investigation continues,” said Angela L. Byers, the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Cincinnati, reported the New York Times (NYT). “It appears that [the attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan] may have at least been inspired by Anwar Awlaki and the Islamic State.”
Citing two unnamed law enforcement sources, CNN added, “The sources point to Abdul Razak Ali Artan’s Facebook posts before his short-lived rampage on the Columbus campus. The posts referenced Awlaki, who was a leader of al Qaeda in Yemen. Sources also note the style of the attack was encouraged by ISIS in a recent online magazine.”
Artan injured 11 people before he was shot dead by law enforcement.
Although ISIS considers al-Qaeda to be its rival, various ISIS members and other Sunni jihadists have been known to be fans of Awlaki.
The U.S. government executed Awlaki, but his propaganda has inspired some domestic attacks in the United States in the years after his death.
Artan, a permanent U.S. resident born in Somalia, praised the radical American-born al-Qaeda cleric as a “hero” in a Facebook rant he posted just minutes before ramming his car into a cluster of pedestrians and then slashing some of them with a butcher knife Monday morning.
“I am sick and tired of seeing [Muslims] killed & tortured everywhere,” he added, according to media reports.
“If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace,” Artan also wrote. “We will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims.
Despite ISIS claiming responsibility for the attack, investigators believe it was a lone wolf attack.
Investigators are going through “the detailed analysis of electronic devices, social media accounts and other materials” linked to Artan and “have conducted dozens of interviews with family members, co-workers, neighbors and others,” noted Byers from the FBI.
Artan spent seven years in Pakistan, a terrorist breeding ground, before entering the United States as a refugee in 2014.
Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief medical officer of the OSU Wexner Medical Center, told reporters that of the 11 people wounded by the terrorist, three remain hospitalized.