As the FBI conclude their investigation into the attack on Ohio State’s campus on Nov. 28, they released a note written by attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan that gives new insight into the motives behind his violence.
In the note, first obtained by the Associated Press through an open records request after the FBI unclassified its investigation on the incident, Artan urged his family to stop being “moderate” Muslims and that he “(pledged) his allegiance to ‘dawla”, an Arabic word that means state or country.
The note was found ripped up next to Artan’s bed the morning of the attack, and was reassembled by investigators trying to piece together what exactly spurred Artan’s actions.
In the note handwritten by Artan, assumed to be written to his parents, he says that he “will intercede for you in the day of Judgment.”
Artan continued, saying he would like to leave his property to his loved, “but yet ‘moderate mother.’”
The AP report included testimonies from family and associates, with Bob Fitrakis, the family’s lawyer, saying “The family is mystified by what happened. They’re absolutely absolutely clueless,”.
Artan was widely known by work colleagues and fellow students as a mild-mannered and normal 18-year-old student, who had success at both Columbus State and OSU before abruptly dropping his classes a few weeks before the violent attack.
Facebook posts just minutes before the attack portray a deeply religious young man, culturally troubled and visibly irritated over US-Muslim relations.
“If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace” with the Islamic State, he proclaimed in his Facebook posts, which became some of his last words before his death. His brother, worried about the angry posts, tried to call Artan, but to no avail.
On Nov. 28, Artan drove a car into a crowd of people who were already outside due to an unrelated gas leak. He proceeded to jump from his car and attack the crowd with a butcher knife, injuring 11 students and faculty in total. He was shot and killed by OSU police officer Alan Horujiko within one minute of the attack.
The records give more clarity to the attack itself as well, showing that Artan yelled “I’m going to…kill you,” with an expletive at a woman.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement put out by its Amaq News Agency the next day. A translation of the statement from ISIS claiming the attack called Artan a “soldier of the Islamic State”.
Donald J. Trump, then president-elect, tweeted the next day that Artan should have not been allowed into the country. The White House later included the OSU attack in a list of events Trump felt the media under-reported.
Following the attack, various efforts were made by OSU clubs and organizations to make Muslim students feel comfortable amidst critical media coverage of their religion. Different forums and panels were held to help non-Muslims in the OSU community get to know the religion for more than what they see on the news.
Banners and markers were placed in the Ohio Union for students to peacefully facilitate conversations following the attack, which resulted in many leaving messages of love and support for the OSU Muslim community.
The Muslim Student Association also held a “Get To Know Your Neighbors” open house allowing for those outside of their community to witness a welcoming address and traditional Muslim prayer.