ISIS has claimed responsibility for Monday’s terrorist attack at Ohio State University, calling the attacker, 20-year-old Somali refugee Abdul Razak Ali Artan its “soldier” in an update posted on Amaq news, the terror group’s official propaganda channel.
The New York Times’ resident ISIS expert Rukimini Callimachi reports:
1. One day after the attack in Ohio, the Islamic State has claimed credit via its newswire Amaq in a post published on Telegram. Here it is: pic.twitter.com/XqHsepim4p— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) November 29, 2016
2. In the post, ISIS refers to the assailant who used a car to ram pedestrians, then slashed them with a knife "a Soldier of Islamic State"— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) November 29, 2016
3. The post also says the assailant "carried out the operation in response to appeals to target nationals of the international Coalition"— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) November 29, 2016
4. These have become stock phrases ISIS uses in claiming attacks. Almost like a template with blanks: Enter city, weapon, add stock phrases— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) November 29, 2016
It’s unclear if Artan was in direct contact with the terror group prior to carrying out his assault on students. In other words, Monday’s attack may have been a so-called “lone-wolf” attack where a solitary terrorist, radicalized by Islamist teachings on the internet, carries out the mandates of violent jihad. Alternatively, the terrorist may have been speaking with foreign ISIS militants through online telegram channels or mobile applications.
However, ISIS’ recent call for faithful jihadists to use all tools at their disposal, including motor vehicles, to inflict maximum damage on “infidels” and “apostates” more than likely inspired Artan's tactics.
The Muslim Ohio State student used his car to ram into campus Monday morning before taking out a butcher’s knife and stabbing students indiscriminately. He managed to injure at least eight victims before police shot and killed him.
Artan's jihadist bonafides are further exemplified by his social media activity prior to the attack.
In an ominous Facebook post, the Somali-born terrorist assumes the mantle of victimhood and provides a list of grievances related to the treatment of Muslims abroad. At one point, he references the mistreatment of the Rohingya Muslim people, blaming Western countries for their subjugation without realizing US officials have actually urged Burma’s Buddhist-centric government, and its leader Aung San Suu Kyi, to protect the rights of religious minorities.
Demanding that the United States make peace with “Dawla al sham” (or ISIS), Artan obsesses over “apostate allies.” The theme of apostasy is big in Salafist communities. These religious hardliners see any betrayal of Islam as a capital crime.
Artan also praises Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born senior al Qaeda recruiter known for his radical teachings, calling Awlaki a "hero." Awlaki was killed in a CIA drone-strike in Yemen in 2011. To this day, jihadist recruits find his message incredibly appealing. His videos are among the most effective propaganda materials in the jihadist playbook. Google and other tech companies have attempted to erase his videos from the web, but it's difficult to track down material in the dark web.
Most disturbing of all, Artan concludes his Facebook post by declaring that he is “willing to use a billion infidels as retribution.” What that means is that he was willing to kill as many non-Muslims as humanly possible to achieve his aims.
Here's Artan's full Facebook post.