Ohio State Attacker Described Himself as a ‘Scared’ Muslim
Before running over and stabbing bystanders, Abdul Razak Ali Artan told his college newspaper he was afraid to pray on campus.
COLUMBUS—An attack at Ohio State University on Monday morning left at least 11 people injured—all of whom are expected to recover—after a Somali-born U.S. resident and OSU student struck them with his car and slashed them with a knife.
The attack began at approximately 9:52 a.m., director of public service Monica Moll said at an afternoon press conference. Abdul Razak Ali Artan aimed his Honda Civic at a group of pedestrians, jumping the curb and colliding with them. He then exited the vehicle and began slashing pedestrians. By 9:53 a.m., less than a minute later, responding officer Alan Horujko had shot and killed Artan, who police say appears to have acted alone.
University police sent text message alerts and tweeted about 10 a.m. for students to “run, hide, fight,” a common mantra printed on safety pamphlets for evading an active shooter.
Nicole Renninger was in a computer lab when she heard what at first she thought were construction noises and saw people running outside the window. Later, she figured they must have been gunshots, possibly from the police officer who shot and killed Artan. Renninger stayed in the room with one person after receiving alerts to take cover, hiding in a corner where they couldn’t be seen from the outside.
“I spent most of the time texting” family and friends, Renninger said, letting them know she was safe, before the alerts were lifted at about 11 a.m. All classes were canceled for the day for the campus’s 60,000 enrolled students.
“We’re one of the biggest campuses in the country. It’s not unreasonable to think something like this would happen,” said OSU student Dan Zubenko, who had just left a class nearby on north campus when he received the alert and locked himself in an office with about a half dozen other people, all of them checking the news and social media.
In an interview with the Ohio State student newspaper in August, Artan described himself as a pious and scared Muslim.
“I wanted to pray in the open, but I was scared with everything going on in the media,” the logistics management student told The Lantern after transferring from Columbus State Community College.
“I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen. But, I don’t blame them. It’s the media that put that picture in their heads so they’re going to just have it and it, it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed.”
Just before the attack on Monday morning, Artan posted to Facebook lamenting the treatment of Muslims worldwide. “I am sick and tired of seeing [Muslims] killed & tortured EVERYWHERE… I can’t take it anymore,” the posting read, according to ABC News. “America! Stop interfering with other countries… [if] you want us Muslims to stop carrying [out] lone wolf attacks.”
NBC News reports Artan was born in Somalia and moved to Pakistan with his family in 2007. He came to the United States as a legal permanent resident in 2014.
While there’s been no report that Artan pledged allegiance to ISIS, the OSU attack came just two days after the terrorist group put out a call for would-be jihadis in the West to carry out attacks there by using weapons that would not attract the attention of authorities, such as knives or homemade explosives.
In a grisly demonstration, ISIS member Abu Sulayman Al-Firansi demonstrated the best places to strike a target using a tied-up man. Another masked man then killed the hostage using the techniques. (The Daily Beast has reported that Abu Sulayman’s nom de guerre belongs to a man supposedly in charge of planning attacks in the West, but it is also used by a number of other French foreign fighters.)
Around the campus, red Solo cups and cardboard beer boxes littered lawns just blocks from the scene of the attack, reminders of the raucous celebrations this weekend after OSU’s big win against long-standing football rival University of Michigan.
Other streets were cordoned off with yellow tape as police officers collected evidence, interviewed witnesses, and documented the crime scene.
Police later cordoned off part of Nationwide Boulevard in the Hilltop neighborhood of Columbus, home to many Somalis in this city, which has the second largest Somali population in the country. A bomb-squad vehicle was parked there and officers were investigating an address reportedly linked to the car Artan used in the attack.
Residents standing outside said they had never seen such a large police presence in the neighborhood.