Ohio State attacker was briefly a Catholic Charities client in Dallas

Crime scene investigators collect evidence from the pavement as police respond to an attack on campus at Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the teenager who began a rampage at the Ohio State University in Columbus on Nov. 28 before he was killed by police, had apparently briefly been a client of Catholic Charities in Dallas, Tex. In a statement released on Nov. 29, Dave Woodyard, president and C.E.O. of CC-Dallas, said:

Catholic Charities has been contacted by law enforcement in connection with the investigation into yesterday’s events at Ohio State University. We have responded to law enforcement requests for information regarding an individual whose name matches the name of a family member that Catholic Charities provided with shelter, clothing and other basic humanitarian services for a short time in 2014.


We remain in contact with the authorities and intend to assist in their investigation in any way we can. Out of respect for the various ongoing investigations into the incident, we ask that further inquiries be directed to the appropriate law enforcement officials.

Mr. Woodyard added, “As a charitable organization focused on helping those in need, we are deeply saddened by the events in Columbus, Ohio, and are praying for the victims and their families, the Ohio State University community and all those impacted by this tragedy.”

Mr. Woodyard had earlier told media that Mr. Artan, his mother and six siblings had arrived in Dallas on June 5, 2014, from Pakistan and stayed less than a month, moving to Ohio on June 28. During that time, he told local media, ”We gave them aid and comfort and some shelter as part of the government resettlement program.”

It is not clear what refugee resettlement agency was assisting the family in Columbus, if any. An official of Catholic Charities affiliated Catholic Social Services of Columbus reports that C.S.S. does not maintain a refugee resettlement program.

On Nov. 28, Mr. Artan, 18, an O.S.U. student born in Somalia, drove a car into a group of students, injuring 11. He emerged from the car brandishing a knife but was quickly shot down by an arriving campus police officer. An Ohio State medical official said on Nov. 29 that three of the 11 people injured in the attack remain hospitalized but are expected to make complete recoveries.

Authorities today were still trying to ascertain a motive for the attack, but an AP police source described Facebook posts authored by Mr. Artan that railed 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.

"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 was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Every single Muslim who disapproves of my actions is a sleeper cell, waiting for a signal. I am warning you Oh America!" Mr. Artan also wrote.

Dozens of F.B.I. agents began searching Mr. Artan's apartment for clues to what set off the rampage. 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. In recent months, federal law enforcement officials have raised concerns about online extremist propaganda encouraging knife and car attacks, suggesting they easier to pull off than bombings.

Omar Hassan, president of the Columbus-based Somali Community Association of Ohio, told USA Today that the incident would reverberate in the Somali diaspora throughout the United States, where concerns about anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment are already heightened.

“The timing is not good,” Mr. Hassan said. “We are black. We are Muslim. We are Somali. We are all the negative stigmas.”

Columbus has the second-biggest Somali population in the nation, with about 50,000 immigrants from the East African nation. Only Minneapolis has more.

The director of a mosque that Mr. Artan had attended told the Associated Press that numerous programs were in place to help youth and prevent self-radicalization. Horsed Noah said he was not familiar with Mr. Artan, adding that thousands attend services on busy days at the mosque on Columbus' west side.

The mosque just celebrated its second anniversary. It primarily serves Muslims from Somalia and other East African countries, many of whom live nearby.

Mr. Noah mentors youth at the mosque, which also offers "Meet a Muslim" programs and helps Somali parents learn to communicate with their children, especially as they assimilate faster to life in America.

On Nov. 29, a self-described Islamic State news agency called Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 Mr. Artan came to the United States in 2014 as the child of a refugee and 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.

The AP reports that upon arrival, Mr. Artan was referred for a secondary Customs and Border Protection inspection, but nothing abnormal was found, according to a U.S. official who was briefed on the investigation but was not authorized to discuss it and spoke on condition of anonymity. A secondary inspection is often routine and based on someone's travel history and length of stay in certain countries.

Mr. Artan started college that fall and 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.

Classes for the 60,000 students at Ohio State, where Mr. Artan began taking classes this fall, were canceled after the attack but resumed on Nov. 29. A campus vigil is scheduled for the evening of Nov. 29.

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