Islamic State group claims Ohio State University rampage


Islamic State group claims Ohio State University rampage

Image caption
Alleged attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan revealed in August he was nervous of intimidating others

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a car and knife rampage at a US college on Monday that left 11 people injured.

The attack at Ohio State University was carried out by Somali-born Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a student at the Columbus campus, authorities said.

The IS-affiliated Amaq news agency called the 18-year-old business undergraduate a “soldier”.

There is no immediate way to verify the group”s claim.

Just opportunistic? Analysis by Gordon Corera, BBC Security Correspondent

The ISIS claim does not prove much in terms of the attack in Ohio. The group often refers to individuals who carry out attacks as its “soldiers”, but the crucial question is firstly whether the individual had any form of direct contact with IS.

Face-to-face contact may be unlikely but online communication is possible. If there was no direct contact, it could still be the case that an individual was inspired rather than directed by the group. In this case, an individual may leave his or her own pledge of allegiance in written form or online or in a video.

But until such evidence emerges, it remains hard to know if this is just an opportunistic claim by the group rather than one based on real substance.

“The executor of the attack in the American state of Ohio is a soldier of the Islamic State and he carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries,” Amaq said.

The publication did not say if the attack was directed from abroad, or if Artan had been self-radicalised.

Amaq also posted an image of Artan wearing a blue shirt and sitting with greenery in the background.

Media captionHow the attack on the Ohio State University campus unfolded

He was shot by a campus police officer after he drove his car at a group of people and then got out to attack them with a “butcher”s knife”, police said.

Most of the victims were injured by Artan”s car, but two were stabbed and another suffered a fractured skull, officials said.

Four people are still in hospital.

One of the wounded victims, William Clark, an Ohio State University professor, described how Artan”s vehicle had “mounted the kerb” and crashed into a large concrete planter before bouncing off and striking him.

Media captionEyewitness: “I saw three or four students being hit”

“As it was stopping, it clipped the back of my right leg and basically flipped me up in the air and I landed on the concrete,” he told a news conference.

Mr Clark said Artan then exited the car and began attacking students before he was shot down.

Surveillance photos showed Artan in the car by himself just before the attack, but investigators are looking into whether anyone else was involved.

Dozens of FBI agents have searched Artan”s apartment for clues as to what may have triggered the attacks.

Image caption
Eleven people were injured in the attack

Neighbours described him as polite and said he attended daily prayers at a mosque on the city”s west side.

Artan, who was born in Somalia and was a legal US permanent resident, arrived in the country 2014 as a child of a refugee.

He had been living in Pakistan from 2007-14.

Artan recently posted on Facebook about US treatment of Muslims, according to the AP, citing a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Image caption
A candle-lit vigil in Columbus for victims of the attack

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

“Every single Muslim who disapproves of my actions is a sleeper cell, waiting for a signal. I am warning you Oh America!” Artan reportedly said.

Representative Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the act was indicative of someone who may have been self-radicalised.

Militants of the so-called Islamic State have found recruits in the US Somali community in recent years.

About a dozen young men and women from Minnesota”s Somali community have travelled to Syria to join militant groups.

Nine men in Minnesota were sentenced on terror charges for plotting to join the Islamic State group.

And a Somali-American man attacked 10 people with a knife at a central Minnesota mall before he was killed by an off-duty police officer in September.

Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of Council of American-Islamic Relations” Minnesota chapter, said some Somali-Americans were concerned about being viewed as “guilty by association”.

After Monday”s attack, he said: “We must not let the act of one individual, no matter what his motive or background, to further divide our community or our nation.”