COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Somali-born student who went on a car-and-knife rampage at Ohio State University railed on Facebook against U.S. interference in Muslim lands and warned, “If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace” with the Islamic State group (I.S.), a law enforcement official said Tuesday.
The posts from Abdul Razak Ali Artan’s account came to light after Monday’s violence, which left 11 people injured. Investigators are looking into whether it was a terrorist attack.
“America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that,” he wrote, using the Arabic term for the world’s Muslim community.
The posts were recounted by a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation but wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly.
“Every single Muslim who disapproves of my actions is a sleeper cell, waiting for a signal. I am warning you Oh America!” Artan also wrote.
Dozens of FBI agents began searching Artan’s apartment for clues to what set off the rampage.
Artan drove a car up onto a sidewalk and plowed into a group of pedestrians shortly before 10 a.m. He then got out and began stabbing people with a butcher knife before he was shot to death by a campus police officer.
Most of the victims were hurt by the car, and two had been stabbed, officials said. One had a fractured skull. Three remained hospitalized Tuesday.
Engineering professor William Clark, who underwent surgery for deep cuts on his leg, recalled at a news conference Tuesday being hit by the car from behind and being thrown through the air.
“When the car hit me, I really didn’t know what to think,” he said, adding he next heard screams from students. “That’s when I figured out it was more than a car accident.”
On Tuesday, a self-described I.S. news agency called Artan “a soldier of the Islamic State” who “carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries.”
The Islamic State has previously described other attackers around the world as its “soldiers” without specifically claiming to have orchestrated the acts of violence.
Artan was born in Somalia and was a legal permanent U.S. resident, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
A law enforcement official said Artan came to the United States in 2014 as the child of a refugee. He had been living in Pakistan from 2007 to 2014. It is not uncommon for refugees to go to a third-party country before being permanently resettled.