Ohio State attacker may have been inspired by overseas militants, FBI says
A Somali immigrant who injured 11 people in a car and knife attack at Ohio State University may have been inspired by Islamic State and the late al Qaeda-linked cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an FBI official said on Wednesday.
The Islamic State militant group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attack at the Columbus campus. The U.S.-born Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011.
The Ohio State attacker, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a 20-year-old Muslim student at the school, plowed into pedestrians with a car and then exited the vehicle to stab other victims on Monday.
A police officer quickly ended the attack by fatally shooting Artan, a Somali-born immigrant and a lawful U.S. permanent resident, officials said.
"At this time we are not aware of anyone else being involved in the planning of this attack, but the investigation continues," FBI Special Agent in Charge Angela Byers told reporters.
"It appears that Artan may have at least been inspired by Anwar Awlaki and the Islamic State in the Levant and we will continue to pursue this as part of the investigation," she said.
At the time of his death, al-Awlaki was identified by U.S. intelligence as "chief of external operations" for al Qaeda's Yemen branch and a Web-savvy propagandist for the Islamist cause.
None of the victims, who were wounded after being struck by the car or stabbed, have life-threatening injuries and most were released from local hospitals within one day, officials said.
One person was struck in the foot by a bullet shot by the Ohio State police officer who killed Artan, Columbus deputy police chief Richard Bash said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was not aware of Artan as a potential threat before the rampage, Byers said.
President-elect Donald Trump, who has called for "extreme vetting" of some Muslim immigrants, criticized Artan's entry into the country on Twitter on Wednesday.
"ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country," Trump said on Twitter.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Trump was seeking to exploit the "tragic situation in Ohio."
"This kind of statement seems to indicate that President-elect Trump will have government by tweet instead of a government based on well thought out policies," Hooper said.