Following the identification of Ohio State University attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan, social media sites flooded Monday with questions regarding the religion and ethnicity of the 18-year-old who was shot dead by authorities after injuring nine in a car-and-knife attack on campus. Police are investigating whether the attack was related to terrorism.
Artan was reportedly an Ohio State University student and permanent legal resident who originated from Somalia. It's unclear when he moved to the U.S.
Artan spoke of his religion in an issue of the university magazine The Lantern. "I wanted to pray in the open, but I was kinda 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," Artan told reporter Kevin Stankiewicz.
The Council of American Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization in the U.S., announced they would hold a press conference late Monday about the attack with local Somali-American leaders. Over 45,000 Somalis live in Ohio, according to the Somali Community Association of Ohio, 99.9 percent of which are Muslim.
"The suspect has tentatively been identified as a man of Somali heritage," the Council of American Islamic Relations's press release said.
Artan's name quickly spread through social media, with some users prematurely pointing to a connection between the attacker's background and his motive.
Recent terror attacks in California and Florida were carried out by Muslim men who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group and President-elect Donald Trump has blamed Muslims for terrorism in the U.S. But President Barack Obama and other leaders have urged Americans to not blame all Muslims for the violence carried out by a few.
"If we fall into the trap of painting all Muslims with a broad brush, and imply that we are at war with an entire religion, then we are doing the terrorists' work for them," Obama said in June after a mass shooting in Orlando.