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Ohio attacker drew inspiration from a US-born al-Qaeda cleric killed in 2011 drone strike

Ohio attacker drew inspiration from a US-born al-Qaeda cleric killed in 2011 drone strike

WATCH  | Federal authorities continue to probe Ohio State University attack. Despite claims by the Islamic State that the Ohio attacker was one of their own, federal investigators are exploring all scenarios.

 'Lone wolf' inspired by ISIS propaganda

According to a high-ranking law enforcement official and U.S. counterterrorism source who spoke to Circa, the attack appears to be the act of a "lone wolf" and not connected to a terrorist group.

Investigators have gathered evidence suggesting that the attacker drew inspiration from deceased al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as Islamic State propaganda that called for conducting terror attacks using knives.

FILE - This October 2008, file photo shows Imam Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. Investigators say the blast that rocked New York's Chelsea neighborhood on Sept. 17, 2016, that injured more than two dozen people, was the latest in a long line of incidents in which the attacker was inspired by al-Awlaki, the American imam-turned al-Qaida propagandist who was killed by a U.S. drone strike five years ago. (AP Photo/Muhammad ud-Deen, File)

Anwar al-Awlaki, born in the United States to parents from Yemen, was killed by a drone strike  in 2011. (Photo: Associated Press)

Evidence from social media, witnesses

A high-ranking law enforcement official, with knowledge of the case, said evidence gathered from 18-year-old Abdul Razak Ali Artan's social media accounts and collected from witnesses indicates he developed a fondness for the teachings of Awlaki.  

Artan was killed by police after knifing and running over students with his car Monday. At least 11 people were hurt. 

Ohio scene.jpg
FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2016 file photo, crime scene investigators collect evidence from the pavement as police respond to an attack on campus at Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio. In chillingly detailed articles in a slick online magazine, Islamic State extremists exhorted English-language readers this fall to carry out attacks with knives and vehicles. Using those very methods, Somali-born student Abdul Razak Ali Artan injured multiple people in the attack at Ohio State University, authorities say. It isn't clear whether Artan ever saw or heard about the magazine's instructions, but in a Facebook post made before the attack, he said that if the U.S. wanted Muslims to stop carrying out "lone wolf attacks," it should make peace with the Islamic State group. The posts were recounted by a law enforcement official who was briefed on the investigation but wasn't authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Artan bought knives on the day of the attack. Three of the 11 people wounded were still hospitalized Wednesday morning. (Photo: Associated Press)

Ohio attacker sought information from ISIS sites

That same source tells Circa that Artan had accessed information from public ISIS communication sites. 

Authorities, however, have found no evidence yet indicating Artan, a legal U.S. resident born in Somalia, had any contact with terror group leaders recently or during his family’s travels through Pakistan a decade ago. 

Counterterrorism officials will determine Artan's ties to terror

"There is no doubt that ISIL maintains the intent, and capability to direct, support, promote and inspire acts of violence," the counterterrorism official said. 

"We view the ties to ISIL on a spectrum, on the one end there are individuals who latch onto or are merely inspired by ISIL's narrative and propaganda, then there are individuals who receive degrees of assistance, and then at the other end; there are individuals who receive direction from ISIL plotters." 

'Soldier of the Islamic State'

On Tuesday, Islamic State's media outlet,  Amaq News Agency, claimed Artan was a "soldier of the Islamic State" and that the attack was done in their name, according to  Site Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors extremists on the Internet. 

Carol Cratty, spokeswoman for the FBI, told Circa "it's too early in the investigation" to comment on the case. 

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