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Terrorism claims surrounding Ohio State attack yet to be backed up by motive

Vehicles from the Columbus Division of Fire and the Columbus Division of Police line West 19th Avenue. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

Vehicles from the Columbus Division of Fire and the Columbus Division of Police line West 19th Avenue on Nov. 28. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

Although news media and politicians have mentioned terrorism, as of Wednesday, authorities had not released a motive in the Monday attack on Ohio State’s campus. During a news conference on Wednesday, an FBI agent told members of the media that the attacker might have been inspired by terrorists, but it was “too soon” to call anything an act of terror.

“It’s too soon to draw any conclusions if this is terrorism,” FBI special agent Angela Byers said at a news conference held with the Columbus Division of Police on Wednesday afternoon. Byers said the attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, might have been inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, the now-deceased al Qaeda-linked terrorist, as well as Islamic State.

Artan, a third-year in logistics management, drove a gray Honda Civic sedan into a crowd of people gathered outside of Watts Hall for after a fire alarm went off. Artan then leaped out of the vehicle and reportedly began to attack the crowd with a butcher knife. He was then shot and killed by a University Police officer Alan Horujko. Horujko is now on administrative leave, which officials have said is standard procedure following an officer-involved shooting that results in a death. Officials said the shooting will be presented, to a grand jury, as is also standard procedure.

Authorities have said details, such as why Artan committed the attack, targeted OSU, or targeted the area outside Watts Hall remain unknown.

It was confirmed Wednesday that a bystander was shot in the ankle. Authorities told reporters they suspect the bullet came from Horujko’s gun, as there has been no evidence found of another firearm. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes the Columbus Division of Police and University Police, currently believe Artan acted alone.

“We’re looking at the Facebook post and trying to determine the authentication.” — Angela Byers, FBI agent

Shortly after Artan attacked campus, two people were handcuffed in the Lane Avenue parking garage before police cleared the area and determined that Artan acted alone. Authorities continued searching the area after OSU lifted the shelter-in-place order, but some buildings remained locked down and some areas remained closed off even after the order was lifted.

NBC reported that Artan, who was Muslim, went on a rant about the treatment of Muslims in America on a Facebook page that is believed to belong to him. Todd Lingren, an FBI spokesman, said the page has not been officially released to any media outlets and that its authenticity has not yet been confirmed.

The initial photo of Abdul Razak Ali Artan that appeared in an August issue of The Lantern. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Oller Reporter

The initial photo of Abdul Razak Ali Artan that appeared in an August issue of The Lantern. Credit: Kevin Stankiewicz | Oller Reporter

“(The Facebook page) is certainly something that is being investigated,” Lingren said in an email.

Byers also said the page had not been authenticated.

“We believe he may have been inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, or ISIS … our investigation will determine that,” Byers said. “We’re looking at the Facebook post and trying to determine the authentication, so that is one thing that leads us to believe that it’s possible he may have been inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki.”

In August, by chance, Artan was the subject of The Lantern’s weekly feature “Humans of Ohio State.” He expressed anxiety about praying in public and being judged by society and the media based on stereotypes surrounding his faith.

Wednesday morning, President-elect Donald Trump — who ran a hard-line campaign critical of both Islam and immigration — tweeted that Artan, who was a Somali refugee, should have never been allowed in the country.

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,” Trump tweeted.

Media representatives for the president-elect did not return a request for comment regarding why Trump believes Artan should not been allowed to enter the U.S.

As defined by the United Nations, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. After civil war broke out in Syria, fears have grown in the U.S. that refugees with terror ties have made it into the United States, despite background checks.

Islamic State has claimed the attack, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that Artan had any communication or connection to the terrorist group. The group has often claimed attacks after they’ve happened, based on people who acted alone or in the name of Islamic State.

The terrorist organization declared Artan was a “soldier of the Islamic State,” according to its newswire, Amaq.

Police officers stand near the body of Abdul Razak Ali Artan, lying near the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Chemistry building on North Campus. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

Police officers stand near the body of Abdul Razak Ali Artan, lying near the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Chemistry building on North Campus on Nov. 28. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

Dakota Rudesill, a professor at the Moritz College of Law and a counter-terrorism expert, said that although recent evidence points to a possible link between Artan and ISIS, one should still not assume to know the entire story.

“There are several data points we have now to suggest that the individual was self-radicalized and reached out (to ISIS) … but we do not want to jump to conclusions,” Rudesill said.

William Clark, a professor emeritus of material science engineering who was a victim of the attack, said at a press conference Tuesday that he witholding his judgement of Artan.

“Before I pass judgment on this young man, I’d like to see what exactly the circumstances are and exactly why he took the course of action he chose,” Clark said. “At the end of the day, as I said earlier, I’m still going home this afternoon and he’s dead.”

Sheridan Hendrix contributed to this article.

28 comments

  1. Can you say Muslim Terrorist?

    • No, they can’t say it. They refuse to except reality.

      • "Common sense" is for plebians

        They refuse to reject logic, actually. If no motive was determined yet, then nothing can be reasonably concluded about the nature of the motive. Initial analysis actually provides some evidence that it was more likely mental illness coupled with fear (I wonder where that fear could have come from in the pre-Trump “He’s going to deport even LEGAL minorities” fanaticism) rather than any affiliation with any radical group. Apriori conclusions are a surefire way to miss the truth in any situation.

        • Sure, and the Orlando guy had repressed homosexual feelings, and the San Bernardino fellow did not want to go to a Christmas party. But, reality tell me that this one small sliver of the US population has committed almost 100 acts of terror on the homeland since 9/11.

          But, you go ahead and make excuses for the terrorist.

          • The Religion of Peace website keeps daily score of all the mentally ill jihadist attacks across the globe. Since 9/11 per this website there have been tens of thousands of mentally ill Muslims killing people in the name of Allah (but really because they are mentally ill.)

            Here is a recent example from that site. On 11/29 in Nagrota, India 7 people were killed by mentally ill jihadists.

            And on 11/26 in Galmadug, Somalia 15 people were killed by mentally ill jihadists.

            Seems like there are lots of mentally ill Muslim jihadists to me.

  2. Typical lib professor almost SYMPATHIZING with his attacker because he’s Muslim. You’d think that kind of irrational/pathological thinking would be limited to the English, Art, etc. departments but it now permeates every nook and cranny of an American university…

    • He is a Muslim, Islamic goal by their own admission is to spread Islam worldwide by any means, they hate America, the deceased attacker carries out an inspired attack and we can’t decide if its terrorism?? We must be the most stupid people alive.

  3. fan of good journalism

    Our cub reporter states that President-elect Trump “ran a hard-line campaign critical of both Islam and immigration”.

    Really? Sounds like a little editorializing that is non-factual. In fact, the claim is demonstrably false.

    Illegal immigration was indeed a Trump campaign issue. But, you claim that he was critical of immigration itself. Is that an honest mistake on your part or did you intentionally omit the “illegal” part? It is completely reasonable and in fact rational to be for immigration and against illegal immigration. I suspect you know the difference, and purposely omitted “illegal” in front of immigration.

    As for islam, Trump has stated that our current President lacks the ability to publicly connect islam and terror. This despite the fact that so many incidents of terror have been committed by followers of islam, in the name of their prophet. And, being sane, he, and others like Rand Paul, have questioned bringing in immigrants or refugees from countries that are muslim and have a tendency towards terror.

    Lastly, Trump is correct. We need to do what is best for Americans. Not allowing immigrants or refugees from places like Somalia and Syria is what is best until the terror incidents like Orlando, San Bernardino, Paris, Nice, Brussels etc stop. As President, you must protect the homeland. Importing people from areas that are hostile to the USA is counter productive.

    • Ha! I just posted something very similar on Facebook:

      I think accuracy in journalism needs to start early. This OSU student wrote a pretty nice piece, but somehow he — and his editors, faculty advisers, etc. — missed two profoundly important words (radical and illegal), and in doing so, completely distorted the truth.

      FTA: “Wednesday morning, President-elect Donald Trump — who ran a hard-line campaign critical of both Islam and immigration — tweeted that Artan, who was a Somali refugee, should have never been allowed in the country.”

      Should have read: “…ran a hard-line campaign critical of both RADICAL Islam and ILLEGAL immigration…”

      You may not like the guy – I’m not crazy about him either – but the truth is the truth. And to the extent the media obfuscates it, they are part of the “fake news” problem.

      • Fan of good journalism

        You are correct. But, don’t hold your breath waiting for the correction.

        I must say I would be summarily impressed if the article was corrected to account for the omissions.

      • Trump once said “Islam hates us” and has criticized Muslims in general for not more effectively combating radical thought.

        As “Buckeye Mama” noted, Trump has also criticized the U.S. practice of continuing to allow immigrants and refugees from countries affected by terrorism.

        By that measure, it seems fair to say that he has been critical of both legal immigration and Islam in general.

        • fan of good journalism

          The cub reporter is wrong. He is slanting the news to fit his own narrative. I guess he is angling for a position at anyone of many uber left outlets such as the NYT or WashPo that slant the news every day to fit their own narratives.

          However, it is clear, despite your verbal gymnastics, that Trump’s criticism has focused on ILLEGAL immigration and RADICAL islam.

          His desire to stop FUTURE immigration from muslim countries is imminently reasonable. Why? There is a huge tendency for young muslim men to veer toward acts of terror. Why take the risk? There is nothing so great that we get from the Somali refugees that makes taking them in worth the risk. This was a very short-sighted and foolish policy of Bush 43 and Obama.

  4. It was a terrorist attack. There is no debate about this unless you count those that want to hide the truth for political reasons. The Columbus police chief was clear on the nature of this attack the very same day. It was obvious to everyone, and I submit that it was obvious to the Ohio State University although they refuse to it acknowledge it because it conflicts with their agenda.

    With regard to the OSU official who expressed sympathy for the attacker, I hope that everyone takes note of this. The university has been subjected to a culture of political correctness for the last several years. New departments have been created with well-paid administrators under the guise of diversity, which is just a codeword for racism and division and suppression of free speech by students and faculty. We saw this last year when Christmas decorations and cookies were banned from a Christmas party. Think about this for a moment.

    As an OSU graduate and the father of an Ohio State student, I think it is time that all alumni take an active hand in reversing the subtle liberal influence that became glaring in light of this week’s terrorist attack.

    Many of us believed that we were immune from this, but sadly we are not based on the comments by this individual. The lack of a candid and truthful response by the administration, as to the nature of this attack is a clear sign that we have a serious problem at our university that cannot continue.

    • So you would rather the FBI make its conclusion before they’ve assembled all the pieces of the puzzle and leave us to deal with the resulting impact this would have on the student body? For someone whose child presumably goes here, that’s an awfully indifferent stance.

      • Galileo's Love Child

        and I’d get the feeling you’re just as likely to scream he’s gay, so it’s not terrorism but homophobia

  5. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck….

  6. As humans, as Christians, as Muslims, etc… over and again we are instructed to yes, identify injustice and and call for justice. But we are also called to love, turn the other cheek, to see someone from their point of suffering. Can there be space for that at Ohio State? Or are we just going to take a binary and linear view to this situation because it seems right, is more comfortable, is easier, etc… None of these questions need to be answered now, Ohio State and the individuals affected have the right to mourn, and view their suffering and travel through it right now. Let’s create a space for that and try to understand each other more.

    • Muslims instructed to turn the other cheek?

      Islam’s prophet did no such thing nor did he preach any such thing. He (and he is considered the perfect embodiment of Islam) led more than 60 battles against non-Muslims, he forced conversion of non-Muslims or threatened them with death, he took innumerable sex slaves, he beheaded more than 600 men ad adolescent boys in the battle of Qurayza along…this does not count the thousands beheaded under his watch during the other 60+ battles.

      Your conflating Islam with other religions says a lot about your lack of knowledge and nothing about Islam.

  7. Thank you, Nick.

  8. Thank you for reporting the bare facts of what we do and do not know, and quoting rational voices in your article. Its a very helpful one!

  9. If 9/11 didn’t convince us what we are facing, nothing will. With each attack, we get the same rationalizations and fantasies, hoping that it wasn’t terrorism. But, all of these attacks have been terrorism, whether by a group or an individual. And the common thread is that the attacker is a Muslim. Facing reality is hard. Not facing it is disastrous.

    • From 9-11 to San Bernardino to Orlando to Charlie Hebdo to Nice to London to Mumbai to Rotherham, I don’t know if anything will convince the academics to come around. That’s a problem for the real people to tackle.

    • Except that we didn’t go after the terrorists post 9/11, we invaded a completely unrelated muslim country and killed 100K of them and left the entire region in an endless war.
      You don’t think some of that isn’t gonna come back to haunt us?
      Get real.

      • Check your sources

        Seems to me there were more terrorist attacks even previous to 911, The first twin towers attack under Clinton’s watch, how about the USS Cole, how about Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut in 83, how about the Iran Hostage crises in 79, wow you have sick way of looking at things-liberals have a mental disease.. Maybe you are the one that needs to get real. Muslims even fight against each other and have been doing so for years. The whole middle east is unstable previous to any US involvement. Islam is not a religion of peace

  10. If a major publican writes an article denying facts there can only be one of two reasons. First, they may be absolutely stupid. But most students and writers at OSU are pretty smart young adults. So, that theory is discounted. The second reason is the editors, writers, and staff are getting some sort of pay-off. For all we know there may be some shadow government agency that cuts fairly good sized checks to writers, editors, and staff of student newspapers for lying about the fairly clear motive of Radical Islam being the reason for the attack.

    I do hope the checks cleared before the article was published. Idiocy is unforgiveable at university. Corruption gets you ready for the realities of life.

  11. Motive? Jihad.

    Why should he not have been let into the country? Because like too many other young Somali men he joined the jihad.

    Now we wait to see which American city, which American campus they will strike next.

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