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Department of Treasury sanctions ISIS recruiter who ‘directly or indirectly influenced’ Ohio State attack

Law-enforcement officials gather near Watts Hall and the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry building on North Campus on Nov. 28 2016. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State

The U.S. Department of Treasury sanctioned a Jamaican-based ISIS recruiter for his role in inspiring and influencing attacks related to the terrorist group, including the Nov. 28, 2016 Ohio State car-and-knife attack.

According to a Department of Treasury news release, Abdullah Ibrahim al-Faisal has assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support to ISIS.

“In addition to his actions for ISIS, Faisal has directly or indirectly influenced numerous terrorists, including the Ohio State University attacker during Thanksgiving weekend in 2016… ,” the release said.

The Ohio State attack took place the Monday after Thanksgiving break. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, an Ohio State student, drove his car into a crowd of people who were gathered outside Watts Hall due to an unrelated building evacuation, then chased bystanders with a butcher knife. He was shot and killed within two minutes of the attack by a University Police officer; 13 people were injured.

Artan made Facebook posts just minutes before the attack that portray a deeply religious young man, troubled and visibly irritated over U.S.-Muslim relations.

“If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace” with the Islamic State, he proclaimed.

ISIS claimed responsibility days after the attack, however the FBI announced Nov. 28, 2017 that the terrorist group did not direct Artan. The bureau’s investigation on the incident is officially closed.

Sanctions imposed on Faisal include blocking all of his property and interests, as well as forbidding any U.S. person from engaging in transactions with him.

Faisal was indicted for his actions, and information on the matter was unsealed by the New York County District Attorney’s office for the State of New York in August. He is accused of recruiting others to travel to ISIS-controlled territory and using online networks to facilitate the travel of others to join ISIS.

According to the indictment, Faisal also provided recruits with contacts outside of the U.S. and advice on how to evade detection by law enforcement.

“Faisal has recruited for and provided support to ISIS and his actions have influenced terrorists who engaged in bomb plots and other horrific attacks on innocent civilians,” John Smith, the treasury department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control director, said in the release.  “This designation will help deter Faisal’s global following and prevent U.S. persons from supporting him in any manner.”

Faisal is facing extradition proceedings in Jamaica. He was arrested by Jamaican authorities in September after being indicted in New York.

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