Was Ohio State University car, knife attack domestic terrorism?

Any knife, including this classic Puma hunting model, can be used for the wrong purpose, as the OSU attack demonstrated. (Dave Workman)
Any knife, including this classic Puma hunting model, can be used for the wrong purpose, as the OSU attack demonstrated. (Dave Workman)

NBC News was apparently first to identify the young man responsible for Monday morning’s bloody car and knife attack at Ohio State University as an 18-year-old Somali refugee named Abdul Artan, “who became a legal permanent resident of the United States in 2014.

While the initial reports by nearly every news agency said the attack involved an “active shooter,” the only shots fired were by a police officer on the scene within one minute. The incident was over almost immediately, but in the process several people were injured, either from being slashed or stabbed, or struck by the car Artan was driving.

According to Fox News, Ohio State Police Chief Craig Stone said the suspect “purposely drove over a curb and into pedestrians.” He said the attack was deliberate.

Artan was reportedly armed with a butcher knife.

What happened at OSU Monday morning serves as a reminder that violence can happen anywhere. While this incident involved someone driving into a crowd and then attacking them with a knife, one need only remember what happened in Nice, France earlier this year when nearly 90 people were mowed down by a terrorist driving a large truck.

So, was the Columbus attack an act of terrorism? That’s a question authorities will have to flesh out as the investigation unfolds.

One thing it was not was a shooting. Not that the university’s apparent “gun free zone” status would have prevented a gunman from mounting a slaughter – look at the shooting two years ago at Seattle Pacific University, for which gunman Aaron Ybarra was recently convicted – but the OSU attack demonstrated that mayhem can happen when alternative weapons are used.

There are no background checks for butcher knives, incidentally. Anybody can buy one, without producing any identification, even on-line.

Campuses are “soft targets” and “target-rich environments.” That is, there are plenty of available victims, and only on a handful of select campuses in a small number of states is there a likelihood that any of those intended victims might be legally armed and able to fight back.

That brings us around to “Run Hide Fight,” the words that reportedly were part of the initial Twitter alert from the OSU emergency management office, warning students of the attack and advising people to stay away from the campus. It is difficult to fight back without something to fight with, and according to the Seattle Times, fighting is a last resort.

Even at Seattle Pacific, the hero who disarmed Ybarra used pepper spray.

Watch the OSU story to quickly fade because a firearm was not the weapon of choice, but a car and common household knife were.


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