Just minutes before an 18-year-old Somali college student used a car and butcher knife to attack people on the Ohio State University campus Monday morning, he said in a Facebook post that he’d reached a “boiling point” and was “sick and tired” of seeing Muslims around the globe “killed and tortured,” law enforcement officials told CNN and NBC.
The post said the U.S. should stop “interfering” in the Muslim world and referenced “lone wolf” attacks.
The post appeared to be on the Facebook page of the alleged attacker, Ohio State student Abdul Razak Ali Artan, and has since been disabled, reported ABC News. The Post could not independently confirm the story.
On Twitter, CNN’s Jake Tapper shared the full text of the post, which he said law enforcement officials confirmed was connected to Artan.
It began with a general denunciation of violence against Muslims “everywhere,” then referenced specifically the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar, also known as Burma, who have been long-persecuted and are denied citizenship and basic rights. While the struggles of the Rohingya Muslims receive little publicity in the U.S., their situation has attracted more attention in recent weeks.
Thousands of them have been fleeing into the forests and neighboring Bangladesh on the heels of a brutal military crackdown that followed a terrorist attack on police posts Oct. 9, allegedly carried out by Rohingya militants.
This week, a United Nations refugee agency official told the BBC that Myanmar troops were “killing men, shooting them, slaughtering children, raping women, burning and looting houses, forcing these people to cross the river” into Bangladesh.
The official claimed the government’s goal was “ethnic cleansing of the Muslim minority.”
“Seeing my fellow Muslims being tortured, raped and killed in Burma led to a boiling point,” the Facebook post on Artan’s page reads, according to CNN. “I can’t take it anymore.”
The State Department has been critical of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, and the U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar visited the region in early November.
Even so, the Facebook post from Artan’s page also seems to call on America to “stop interfering” with the Muslim world.
“We are not weak,” it says. ” . . . remember that.”
The post also references “lone wolf attacks,” and says the only way to stop them is for the United States to make peace, through a pact or treaty, with “Dawla in al sham,” which translates roughly to the Islamic State. The original name for ISIS in Arabic is Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, which translates to the Islamic State of Iraq, and Syria and the wider surrounding area.
“By Allah, we will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims,” the post continues. “You will not celebrate or enjoy any holiday.”
The post’s intended audience then seems to shift to other Muslims. It calls any Muslim who disapproves of the writer’s “actions” a “sleeper cell, waiting for a signal” and calls upon the community to follow “our hero” Anwar Al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011. Videos recorded by Al-Awlaki before he died have been cited by numerous radicalized Muslims who went on to plan or carry out terrorist attacks, including the Boston Marathon bombing and the massacre at the satirical French newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, reported the New York Times.
It ends with a criticism of western media, asserting that if the prophet Muhammad were alive today he’d be labeled a terrorist.
Law enforcement officials told CNN they were investigating the Facebook post.
If it was written by Artan, the media critique at the end of the post matches a similar, less-harsh analysis he offered the student newspaper at Ohio State when it profiled him three months ago at the beginning of the school year. He said he’d just transferred from a community college, where there were rooms for Muslims like him to pray. At Ohio State, he felt overwhelmed.
He told the student newspaper:
“This place is huge, and I don’t even know where to pray. I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. I’m a Muslim, it’s not what the media portrays me to be. If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen. But, I don’t blame them. It’s the media that put that picture in their heads to they’re just going to have it and it, it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable. I was kind of scared right now. But I just did it. I relied on God. I went over to the corner and just prayed.”
Video footage of Artan’s spring graduation from the community college, where he earned an associate of arts degree, shows a jovial student bounding across stage to receive his degree. Neighbors and the owner of the home where Artan lived with his mother and siblings described the teen as friendly, quiet and respectful. Artan had told one woman he went to the mosque daily.
Law enforcement officials have yet to say if the attack Monday morning, which sent 11 people to hospitals and left Artan dead, was related to terrorism, but added they weren’t ruling it out.
That didn’t stop some Ohio political leaders from stepping into what the Columbus Dispatch characterized as “rhetorical land mines.”
After Artan was identified as a Muslim and Somali refugee who spent a short time in Pakistan, State Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is expected to run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, tweeted: “Looks like Radical Islamic terror came to my alma mater today. So sad what happened at OSU. We must remain vigilant against Radical Islam.”
Michael Premo, chief of staff for the Ohio Senate Democrats, quoted Mandel’s tweet and criticized his language: “Looks like knee-jerk islamophobia came to my state today. So sad what @JoshMandelOhio said. We must remain vigilant against prejudice.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Katie Mettler