CLEVELAND - “Please God, don’t make him a Muslim.”
This is what went through Isam Zaiem’s head as he heard about Monday’s attack at OSU.
“These things are random and should not reflect on Muslims at large, because we have nothing to do with it,” said Zaiem, Board President of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Cleveland.
We now know 18-year-old suspect Abdul Razak Ali Artan claimed the Islamic faith. His choice of weapons set off an alarm for Global Terrorism Analyst Rita Katz. She tweeted, “use of vehicle and knife in Ohio State attack is consistent with recent attack instructions issued by ISIS.”
And, “As long as ISIS media and detailed manuals on how to attack sit on social media, these attacks will continue.”
“Why do these things occur and how do we respond to it?” Moatasem Al Bitar brought that up as a topic of discussion at Cleveland State’s Arab Student Union meeting, Tuesday night. Al Bitar says something like this could happen at any school, but identifying someone who might attempt a so-called “lone wolf” attack is complicated and delicate.
“How do you differentiate between someone who is just talking the talk and someone who actually has malicious intent?” he said.
Zaiem and Albitar both seemed more worried about backlash against Muslims in the wake of another attack, saying all Americans need to put fear aside and focus on what we have in common.
“We love this country. We’re proud to be American. We just happen to be Muslim and we want the best for all of us,” said Zaiem.
The terrorist group ISIS has claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack at Ohio State. Authorities believe the suspect was inspired by terrorist propaganda, citing posts on his Facebook page.
There was no gun used in the incident, except to kill the suspect. Eleven people were injured when he drove a vehicle into a crowd then began cutting with a knife. Intelligence sources say this type of assault was encouraged by ISIS in a recent online magazine.
Although he may have been inspired by ISIS, there’s no indication that Artan communicated with any terror group. Investigators are looking at his computer and cell phone and talking with people close to him as they try to determine exactly what led to the attack.