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Abdul Razak Ali Artan, Ohio State Attacker, Stayed In Dallas In 2014: Here's What We Know

Courtesy of Kevin Stankiewicz for The Lantern via Reuters
Abdul Razak Artan, a third-year student in logistics management, sat on the Oval in an August 2016 photo provided by The Lantern, the student newspaper of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the Somali-born Ohio State University student who was killed Monday after he plowed his car into pedestrians and stabbed people, reportedly spent time in Dallas in 2014 as part of a refugee resettlement program.

Here’s what we know about Artan's time in Dallas.

1. His Dallas visit was brief.

Records indicate someone named Abdul Razak Ali Artan was in Dallas for 23 days — about three weeks — in June 2014, as part of the federal government’s refugee resettlement program, Catholic Charities of Dallas CEO David Woodyard told KERA Monday night.

2. Artan came to Dallas with family.

Artan arrived in Dallas with his mother and six siblings, Woodyard told KERA. They arrived at D/FW International Airport from JFK International Airport, Woodyard told KXAS-TV.

“Once the State Department goes through a full vetting process – we understand it to be the most stringent in the world – they are sent to us directly from the country they are arriving from,” Woodyard told KERA. “We help them to assimilate to our culture, help them teach the language, work skills, settle them into an apartment – all of that being funded and sponsored by the government.”

3.  Artan and his family stayed in an apartment.

“[He] stayed in an apartment that we set up for him and his family,” Woodyard said. “Twenty-three days is not a very long time. They are usually getting used to learning how to catch a bus here in the United States. … Learning and enhancing their English skills.”

4.  Catholic Charities workers do not remember Artan or his family.

“We do not remember this one person or his family,” Woodyard said. “None of the people we talked at the agency today … remember he or his family, specifically. It was over two-and-a-half years ago and they were here for a very brief time.”

The family moved from Dallas to Ohio.

‘Hopeful that people don’t judge’

“We are praying for all of the victims in Ohio and all of those impacted by the horrific events today,” Woodyard said. “We are very hopeful that people don’t judge the many by the actions of the one. Many crazy things happen in our world today and in our country and in our communities. They are happening for all different reasons from all different people sadly, very sadly and we’re just hopeful that people realize that and that they know this is one person who became disturbed and affected by things and went onto to do horrific things.”

About Catholic Charities' refugee efforts

Catholic Charities of Dallas explains its role on its website:

Refugees flee their homes, businesses, and communities in order to escape war, persecution or death.  They rarely know how long it might be before they might be able to return home and often have no time to plan the departure or pack appropriately. Family records, professional documents, diplomas, photos and other precious items are often left behind. In the late 1970s, Catholic Charities of Dallas (CCD) began resettling refugees operating under the auspices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) contract with the federal government. If the USCIS officer [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services] approves the refugee’s application for U.S. resettlement, he or she will be matched with Catholic Charities of Dallas, Inc. – Refugee Services directorate.  Our Refugee services are staffed with professionals and volunteers to assist refugees.

Artan quoted in Ohio State student newspaper

Artan was a legal permanent U.S. resident, the Associated Press reported. That’s according to a U.S. official who wasn't authorized to discuss the case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. 

Ohio State's student newspaper, The Lantern, ran an interview in August with a student named Abdul Razak Artan, who identified himself as a Muslim and a third-year logistics management student who'd transferred from Columbus State in the fall.

He said he was looking for a place to pray openly and worried how he would be received.

"I was kind of scared with everything going on in the media. I'm a Muslim, it's not what media portrays me to be," he told the newspaper. "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."

Eleven people were injured in the attack

University Police Chief Craig Stone said Artan deliberately drove his small gray Honda over a curb outside an engineering classroom building and then began knifing people shortly before 10 a.m.

Officer Alan Horujko, 28, who was nearby because of a gas leak, arrived on scene and shot the driver in less than a minute, Stone said.

Eleven victims, mostly students, were taken to three Columbus hospitals. Most had been hurt by the car, and two had been stabbed, officials said. One had a fractured skull. Four remained hospitalized Tuesday morning, the hospitals said.

Leaders of Muslim organizations and mosques in the Columbus area condemned the attacks while cautioning people against jumping to conclusions or blaming a religion or an ethnicity.

Motive for the attack

Dozens of FBI agents began searching Artan's apartment for clues to what set off the rampage.

Artan railed on Facebook against U.S. interference in Muslim lands and warned, "If you want us Muslims to stop carrying lone wolf attacks, then make peace" with the Islamic State group, a law enforcement official said Tuesday.

"America! Stop interfering with other countries, especially the Muslim Ummah. We are not weak. We are not weak, remember that," he wrote, using the Arabic term for the world's Muslim community.

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.

"Every single Muslim who disapproves of my actions is a sleeper cell, waiting for a signal. I am warning you Oh America!" Artan also said.

The posts from Artan's account came to light after Monday's violence. Investigators are looking into whether it was a terrorist attack.

KERA’s Gus Contreras and Eric Aasen contributed to this report, as did The Associated Press.