COLUMBUS, OH (The New York Post) – A Somali refugee and Ohio State University student plowed his car into a group of people on campus Monday and slashed them with a butcher knife — and police are now investigating whether the attack was an act of terror, federal sources told The Post.
“He did exhibit some of the methods encouraged by terror groups who can’t attack the US themselves,” a federal source said.
When the attack began, police issued an “active shooter” alert that prompted a campus-wide lockdown and chillingly ordered students to “run, hide, fight.”
A cop was on the scene within a minute and killed the attacker, 18-year-old Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who became a legal permanent resident of the US, officials said.
“He engaged the suspect and eliminated the threat,” OSU Police Chief Craig said.
Asked at a news conference whether authorities were considering the possibility it was a terrorist act, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs said: “I think we have to consider that it is.”
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that while the bloodshed is still under investigation, it “bears all of the hallmarks of a terror attack carried out by someone who may have been self-radicalized.”
“Here in the United States, our most immediate threat still comes from lone attackers that are not only capable of unleashing great harm, but are also extremely difficult, and in some cases, virtually impossible to identify or interdict,” he said.
Ohio State’s student newspaper, The Lantern, ran an interview in August with a student named Abdul Razak Artan, who identified himself as a Muslim and a third-year logistics management student who had just transferred from Columbus State in the fall.
He said he was looking for a place to pray openly and worried about how he would be received.
“I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. I’m a Muslim, it’s not what media portrays me to be,” he told the newspaper. “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.”
In recent months, federal law enforcement officials have raised concerns about online extremist propaganda that encourages knife and car attacks, which are easier to pull off than bombings.
The Islamic State group has urged sympathizers online to carry out “lone wolf” attacks in their home countries with whatever weapons are available to them.
Surveillance photos showed Artan in the car by himself just before the attack, but investigators are looking into whether anyone else was involved, the campus police chief said.