Ohio State attacker praised ex-Al Qaeda leader as ‘hero’ online, sources say
The man who plowed a car into a crowd at Ohio State University before stabbing several pedestrians with a butcher knife on Monday is said to have referred to American-born Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki as a “hero” on his social media accounts.
Law enforcement sources told Fox News on Tuesday that the reference of al-Awlaki on Abdul Razak Ali Artan’s social media accounts is “deeply concerning” because it could suggest he was self-radicalized before launching the attack.
While a motive has not been confirmed, authorities are looking into whether the car-and-knife attack by the Somali-born student was an anti-U.S. terrorist attack.
The FBI is now in possession of Artan’s electronic devices and will focus their investigation on whether he was reading the two recent ISIS propaganda journals that called for attacks using vehicles and knives, a law enforcement source added.
In recent months, federal law enforcement officials have raised concerns about online extremist propaganda that encourages knife and car attacks, which are easier to pull off than bombings.
The Islamic State group has urged sympathizers online to carry out lone-wolf attacks in their home countries with whatever weapons are available to them.
This follows reports that Artan, who was shot and killed during the attack, shared a Facebook post that appeared to condemn U.S. military action in Muslim countries.