Donald Trump weighed in on the Ohio State knife-and-car attack on Wednesday, tweeting that the assailant – Somali refugee Abdul Artan – should never have been let in the country in the first place.
Artan, a student at Ohio State, was born in Somalia but fled to a refugee camp in Pakistan in 2007.
In 2014, Artan, his mother and five other relatives were granted permission to immigrate to the US as legal permanent residents.
On Wednesday, Trump wrote:
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2016
Artan is among tens of thousands of Somalians who have sought refuge in America since civil war broke out in the African nation in the 1990s.
Authorities now believe that Artan may have become radicalized by ISIS propaganda, leading him to go on a rampage on the Ohio State campus earlier this week.
Artan was not known to FBI counterterrorism authorities before Monday’s rampage, which ended with him shot to death by police and 11 people injured, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press.
FBI agents continued to search Artan’s apartment for clues, but California U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he had seen no evidence Artan was directed by or was in communication with any overseas terror organization.
The mode of attack – plowing a car into civilians, then slashing victims with a butcher knife – was in keeping with the recommended tactics of jihadist propaganda. And Facebook posts that were apparently written shortly before the attack and came to light afterward show Artan nursed grievances against the U.S.
He railed against U.S. intervention in Muslim lands and warned, ‘If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace’ with the Islamic State group.
‘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.
He also warned that other Muslims are in sleeper cells, ‘waiting for a signal. I am warning you Oh America!’
The posts were recounted by a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation but wasn’t authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, a self-described ISIS 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 group has described other attackers around the world as its ‘soldiers’ without specifically claiming to have organized the acts of violence.
Artan’s social media rants seemed at odds with the portrait of the young man painted by neighbors and acquaintances.
Jack Ouham, owner of a market near the home on the outskirts of Columbus where Artan lived with his parents and siblings, saw him almost every day when he stopped in for snacks but never alcohol or cigarettes.
He was never angry, Ouham said.
‘Very nice guy,’ he said.
Artan graduated with honors from Columbus State Community College last May, earning an associate of arts degree. A video of his graduation ceremony shows him jumping and spinning on stage and smiling broadly, drawing laughs, cheers and smiles from graduates and faculty members.
The school said he had no behavioral or disciplinary problems while he was there from the fall of 2014 until this past summer.
He started at Ohio State in August as a business student studying logistics management.
A law enforcement official said Artan came to the U.S. in 2014 as the child of a refugee. Artan had been living in Pakistan from 2007 to 2014. It’s not uncommon for refugees to go to a third-party country before being permanently resettled.
Federal and local authorities have been grappling with the pervasiveness of Islamic State group propaganda. FBI Director James Comey said in May that there were ‘north of 1,000’ cases in which agents were trying to evaluate a subject’s level of radicalization and potential for violence.
Authorities will no doubt look to see if they missed any red flags that could have placed Artan under investigation.