Heslam: With attack at Ohio State, parents have a new worry

November 29, 2016 GMT

Proud parents are posting their kids’ early college acceptance letters on social media. And until yesterday, they were sending them to a place that seemed immune from terror attacks.

Now parents have to worry about that, too.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Somali refugee and Ohio State University student, is accused of driving his car into pedestrians on campus at about 10 a.m. before he got out and reportedly began stabbing people with a butcher knife.

“Run, Run, Run!” students were heard yelling.

He injured 11, including one critically, until a cop who happened to be nearby because of a gas leak shot him dead, authorities said. Artan, 18, was born in Somalia and was a legal permanent U.S. resident, according to The Associated Press.

The campus attack appeared to come from the pages of al-Qaeda’s online magazine, “Inspire,” which encourages its followers to use vehicles as weapons. It’s the same propaganda publication that authorities said influenced the Boston Marathon bombers.

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Most of yesterday’s victims were injured by Artan’s car. The attack comes five months after a terrorist used a massive truck to mow down and kill 86 people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France.

When Columbus police Chief Kim Jacobs was asked yesterday whether it was a terrorist act, she said: “I think we have to consider that it is.” California U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the attack “bears all the hallmarks of a terror attack carried out by someone who may have been self-radicalized.”

In August, the college newspaper ran a piece on Artan, who complained there was no place to pray on campus. He had transferred from Columbus State, where there were prayer rooms because, he said, Muslims “have to pray five times a day.”

“This is my first day. 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 so they’re just going to have it and it, it’s going to make them feel uncomfortable,” the paper quoted him as saying.

Authorities, sources told ABC News, are investigating whether Artan wrote an anti-U.S. Facebook rant minutes before the attack that said, “I can’t take it anymore. America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that.”

Campus shootings have had parents on edge for years, especially after rampages at Virginia Tech, Santa Monica College and other schools. While abhorrent and terrifying, yesterday’s attack in Ohio marked an escalation and has now given parents yet another nightmare as they prepare to send their kids off to go it alone.