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Terrorism suspected in car-and-knife attack at Ohio State

Posted November 28

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— A Somali-born Ohio State University student plowed his car into a group of pedestrians on campus and then got out and began stabbing people with a butcher knife Monday before he was shot to death by a police officer. Police said they were investigating whether it was a terrorist attack.

Eleven people were hurt, one critically.

The attacker was identified as Abdul Razak Ali Artan. He was born in Somalia and was a legal permanent U.S. resident, according to a U.S. official who wasn't authorized to discuss the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. The FBI joined the investigation.

The details emerged after a morning of conflicting reports and confusion, created in part by a series of tweets from the university warning there was an "active shooter" on campus and students should "Run Hide Fight." The warning was prompted by what turned out to be police gunfire.

Police vehicles and ambulances converged on the 60,000-student campus, and authorities blocked off roads. Students barricaded themselves inside offices and classrooms, piling chairs and desks in front of doors, before getting the all-clear an hour and a half later.

Ohio State University police Chief Craig Stone said the assailant deliberately drove his small Honda over a curb outside an engineering classroom building and then began knifing people. A campus officer nearby because of a gas leak arrived on the scene and shot the driver in less than a minute, Stone said.

Angshuman Kapil, a graduate student, was outside Watts Hall when the car barreled onto the sidewalk.

"It just hit everybody who was in front," he said. "After that everybody was shouting, 'Run! Run! Run!'"

Student Martin Schneider said he heard the car's engine revving.

"I thought it was an accident initially until I saw the guy come out with a knife," Schneider said, adding the man didn't say anything when he got out.

Most of the injured were hurt by the car, and at least two were stabbed. One had a fractured skull.

Columbus police Chief Kim Jacobs, asked whether authorities were considering the possibility it was a terrorist act, said: "I think we have to consider that it is."

Republican Vice President-elect Mike Pence called the episode "a tragic attack" and said "our prayers are with them all."

U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the bloodshed "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'd transferred from Columbus State in the fall.

He said he was looking for a place to pray openly and worried 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 encouraging knife and car attacks, 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.

In September, a 20-year-old Somali-American stabbed 10 people at a St. Cloud, Minnesota, shopping mall before being shot to death by an off-duty officer. Authorities said he asked some of his victims if they were Muslim. In the past few years, London and other cities also have seen knife attacks blamed on extremists.

Artan was not known to the FBI prior to Monday's attack, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation by name and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Neighbors said Artan was always polite and attended daily prayer services at a mosque.

Leaders of Muslim organizations and mosques in the Columbus area condemned Monday's attack while cautioning people against jumping to conclusions or blaming a religion or an ethnicity.

"It is particularly heartbreaking to see this random act of violence come to this community I hold so dear," said Ohio State graduate Nicole Ghazi, who is active in Islamic organizations.

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

The bloodshed came as students were returning to classes following the Thanksgiving break and Ohio State's football victory over rival Michigan, which brought more than 100,000 fans to campus on Saturday.

"There were several moments of chaos," said Rachel LeMaster, who works in the engineering college. "We barricaded ourselves like we're supposed to since it was right outside our door and just hunkered down."

LeMaster said she and others were eventually led outside the building and she saw a body on the ground.

Classes were canceled for the rest of the day.

The officer who killed the attacker was Alan Horujko, a member of the force for just under two years. Department of Public Safety Director Monica Moll said Horujko had done a "fabulous job."

The initial tweet from Ohio State emergency officials went out around 10 a.m. and said: "Buckeye Alert: Active Shooter on campus. Run Hide Fight. Watts Hall. 19th and College." University President Michael Drake said the warning was issued after shots were heard on campus.

"Run, hide, fight" is standard protocol for active-shooter situations. It means: Run away if possible; get out of view; or try to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter if your life is in imminent danger.


Associated Press writers Alicia A. Caldwell and Eric Tucker in Washington, Collin Binkley in Boston and Mark Gillispie in Cleveland contributed to this story.


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  • Jeffrey Derry Nov 28, 9:30 p.m.
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    Time out on bringing foreigners to America who want to kill us

  • Mike Luddy Nov 28, 8:03 p.m.
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    You would think that wral could include in the bullet points that the dead suspect was a somali refugee.

  • Ethan Mathews Nov 28, 5:09 p.m.
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    To Andrew Stephenson. When was the last time a Christian killed in the name of religion in the US? Since a majority of Americans worship christianity and a small number worship the Islamic religions, let's compare the attacks in the US based on religion and %o f the population.

    Boston Marathon bombing
    OSU killing
    World Trade Center
    Fort Hood
    Muslim snipers Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad
    Mohammed Ali Alayed, 23, slashes the throat of an estranged Jewish friend, Ariel Sellouk Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar,North Carolina Michael Julius Ford, a 22-year-old convert to Islam, uses a long-barrel handgun to shoot four co-workers and a police officer at a Denver, Colorado, Safeway, claiming the attack was “Allah’s choice Muslim Naveed Afzal Haq shot six women, killing one, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle building in Seattle. Egyptian-born cab driver Yaser Said shoots and kills his two daughters in Irving, Texas, because they were dating non-Muslim boys.

  • Sheila Rohrbach Nov 28, 4:58 p.m.
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    I grew up in Columbus more years than I want to admit to, got engaged in the Rose Garden there, still a family scholarship ongoing in the Ag dept. with our name, and it absolutely broke my heart to see this today. I think the train has dropped off too many that seem to have a problem with us and I think the train has left too long ago to address the problem, so this is going to be something that we will need to get use to and hope none of our loved ones are hit by the train

  • Steve Smith Nov 28, 4:20 p.m.
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    How long before the cupcakes realize President Trump is right we need to vet any Muslim wishing to come to America. My own experience with Somali Muslims in the Minneapolis airport was unsettling. They do nothing to hide their disgust for America and Americans. Obama has already let far to many of them in our country. Can you imagine sending your child to a place of higher learning and getting a phone call that they had been hurt in a terrorist attack?

  • Bryan Jeffries Nov 28, 3:51 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    Where does it say that?

  • Matt Nickeson Nov 28, 3:15 p.m.
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    View quoted thread

    I wonder how long it will be before WRAL pushes this story to the bottom?

  • Ethan Mathews Nov 28, 2:53 p.m.
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    Well, well ,well. Another attack by a Muslim Somalian refugee. Let's bring in hundreds of thousands more folks. If it was a white person his race would have been mentioned and his motive would have beenspeculated as racism.

  • Vince DiSena Nov 28, 2:50 p.m.
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    What? No gun? Attacker was a Somalian? Not much of a story anymore then.

  • Vince DiSena Nov 28, 10:50 a.m.
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    Tells students to "run, hide, fight" get it right WRAL!!! Report what you hear, not what fits your agenda.