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The Somali student who wounded 11 people in a car-ramming and knife attack on an Ohio university campus was a “soldier” of the Islamic State group, a jihadist-linked news agency said Tuesday.
The Amaq agency said the rampage by Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a logistics student at Ohio State University, was the result of IS calls to action.
“He carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries,” the agency quoted an insider source as saying, according to a translation by the SITE group that monitors extremists.
Artan was shot dead Monday by police moments after he drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians on the campus in Columbus, Ohio, and attacked them with a butcher knife.
Emerging details about Artan have led authorities to believe that he was inspired by jihadist propaganda, CNN reported citing law enforcement sources.
According to US media, Artan’s family arrived in the United States from Somalia via Pakistan in 2014. He was studying at OSU as a third-year transfer student of logistics management.
In an interview a few months ago with student newspaper The Lantern, Artan had complained of the lack of Muslim prayer rooms on campus.
“If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen,” he said.
US media reported that a Facebook page thought to belong to him — since taken offline — included grievances against the United States.
“I can’t take it any more. America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that,” a post quoted by ABC television said, using a term referring to the global community of Muslims.
“If you want us Muslims to stop carrying (out) lone wolf attacks, then make peace,” the post reads. “We will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims.”
Artan also referred to Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Al-Qaeda cleric killed in a US drone strike in Yemen, as a hero in the posting.
University ‘changed’ by tragedy
Classes resumed Tuesday at the university, with all but three of the 11 injured discharged from hospital, according to Andrew Thomas, chief medical officer of Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.
“Everyone still continues to be healing, obviously, working through the trauma of yesterday’s events,” Thomas told a news conference.
The university planned an evening gathering at a campus sports arena to help students and staff deal with the aftermath of the attack.
“Time will help, but I think in some ways the entire university will be changed by this,” Thomas said.
One of the injured, who was discharged Tuesday, addressed the news conference. William Clark, an emeritus professor at the university, said he was struck by Artan’s car and flipped in the air.
“It all happened so fast,” Clark said, holding back tears when speaking of police officer Alan Horujko, who responded to the scene and quickly shot dead Artan, halting his attack.
“If he was here, I’d put my arm around him, and tell him he’s got a lot to cope with in the days to come,” Clark said. “He’s got to live with this the rest of his life, but he did the right thing.”
Clark also said he wanted to withhold judgment of his attacker until the investigation reveals more about what drove him to commit the rampage.
“Yes, he was from Somalia, but he’s an OSU student,” Clark said. “And, having been a faculty member for 35 years, I am only too aware of the things that drive students sometimes to do things that they wouldn’t ordinarily do.”
Ohio is home to the second largest Somali community in the United States, numbering around 38,000 in the Columbus area alone, according to the state’s Somali community association.
The country’s largest Somali community, in Minnesota, was rocked when one of its members stabbed 10 people at a mall in September. IS later claimed the attacker was a jihadist “soldier,” the same claim as for Artan.