The media arm of the Islamic State claimed Tuesday that the Ohio State student who crashed a car into campus crowd and then lashed out with a butcher knife was a “soldier” of the terror group who heeded appeals to strike the U.S., and its allies.
The claim issued by Amaq news agency makes no suggestion that the assailant, Abdul Razak Artan, had been in direct contact with the group or was formally affiliated with the organisation, according to a transcript of the report provided by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors radical organisations.
“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,” according to a translation of the Amaq report provided by SITE.
SITE Director Rita Katz immediately cast doubt on any formal affiliation between the suspect, a member of a Somali refugee family, and the terror group also known as ISIS or ISIL.
“This style of reporting by ISIS indicates it wasn’t coordinated with the group,” Katz said Tuesday, adding that the attack, however, was consistent with recent public appeals from the group to lash out using vehicles and knives as weapons.
A federal law enforcement official who was not authorized to comment publicly said it was not uncommon for the group to seek credit for such strikes, but investigators had so far found no immediate evidence to indicate that attack had been directed by the group or that Artan had been in direct contact with terror operatives.
The nation’s third-largest university resumed its regular class schedule Tuesday, while federal and local authorities continued to seek a motive for the assault.
Artan on Monday used a car to mow down a group of students and teachers. He then left the vehicle wielding a butcher knife, slashing at students before he was fatally shot by a police officer.
Investigators were sorting through recent communications linked to Artan, including an angry screed posted to Facebook shortly before the assault in which the logistics management student said he was “sick and tired’’ of seeing Muslims persecuted, said the federal law enforcement official.
In an August interview with OSU’s student newspaper, The Lantern, Artan talked of being overwhelmed and “scared” as a devout Muslim who sought a private place to engage in daily prayer on the sprawling campus.