Investigators are trying to determine whether a car and knife attack at the Ohio State University was an act of terrorism. Authorities say evidence from the suspect’s past may lead to a motive for the Monday morning attack.
Law enforcement vehicles lined the street outside Abdul Razak Ali Artan’s apartment complex Monday night.
Sources say Artan put an angry message on Facebook before the attack, saying: “America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah. We are not weak.”
What they are discovering is a dramatic escalation in his statements online. Hallmark signs, law enforcement officials say, of someone radicalized -- and turning to action.
Law enforcement sources say shortly before the attack, the suspect posted a message or messages on Facebook suggesting that he was disturbed by how Muslims were being treated, reports CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues. Artan reportedly posted: “I am sick and tired of seeing my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters being killed and tortured EVERYWHERE.”
Officials say Artan came to the U.S. with six family members in 2014 after fleeing Somalia and spending seven years in a refugee camp in Pakistan. CBS News has learned that Artan’s father was abducted in Somalia in 2007 and that is why his family left the country to ultimately seek refugee status in 2012. The family came to the U.S. by flying into New York, then going through Dallas and on to Ohio where they settled.
Artan first attended community college in Columbus where he graduated on the dean’s list. Last August he became a student at Ohio State University where he was interviewed by the campus paper, The Lantern. He complained about what he believed was the media’s negative portrayal of Muslims.
“I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media...if people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen,” he was quoted as saying. “But, I don’t blame them. It’s the media that put that picture in their heads so they’re just going to have it and it, it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable.”
“We can prove to you that the suspect was by himself in the vehicle and committed this act by himself today. It’s an ongoing investigation to determine motive and if anybody else was involved in this act,” OSU police chief Craig Stone said.
Investigators still have not confirmed a motive for the attack but it fits the profile of what investigators say terrorist organizations have been encouraging followers to do. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS have been encouraging supporters to carry out lone wolf attacks like the one in Nice, France in July and a shopping mall stabbing in Minnesota in September.