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Grassley seeks details on Somali refugee behind Ohio State University attack

Abdul Razak Ali Artan (nbc news)
Abdul Razak Ali Artan
(nbc news)

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is seeking the immigration and criminal history of the man who launched an attack on Ohio State University’s campus Monday, leaving 11 people injured. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, the student at the university who crashed his vehicle into a crowd before getting out and slashing people with a knife, is believed to be a refugee originally from Somalia.

According to reports, federal investigators believe Artan was inspired by ISIS and the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and are treating the incident as an act of terrorism. An ISIS propaganda website also called Artan a “soldier.”

In a letter late yesterday to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Grassley is requesting all records related to Artan’s immigration and criminal history to gain a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding his arrival into the United States as well as any subsequent encounters with immigration or law enforcement authorities.

Grassley’s letter to Johnson follows:

November 29, 2016

The Honorable Jeh Johnson
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20528

Iowa Senator Charles Grassley
Iowa Senator Charles Grassley

Dear Secretary Johnson:

Yesterday, an Ohio State University student attacked pedestrians on campus with his car and a butcher’s knife leaving 11 injured. According to reports, 18-year-old Abdul Razak Ali Artan was alone in his vehicle when he slammed into a group of people, hopped out, and stabbed several others with a butcher’s knife. The university warned all students on campus to shelter-in-place during the attack.

According to sources, Abdul Razak Ali Artan is a lawful permanent resident who originally came to the United States from Somalia as a refugee. Investigators have determined that Artan was inspired by ISIS rhetoric and that this was an act of terror. To better understand the situation, please provide a description of Abdul Razak Ali Artan’s immigration history and copies of his Alien File, including any temporary files, working files, and all documents and items contained in them that were generated by DHS or in its possession about him, whether currently in written or electronic form, including, but not limited to, the Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Executive Summary, criminal history and immigration summaries, detainers or requests for notification, I-213(s), and Notice(s) to Appear or other charging documents created to seek his removal from the United States.

I anticipate that your written reply and any responsive documents will be unclassified. Please send all unclassified material directly to the Committee. In keeping with the requirements of Executive Order 13526, if any of the responsive documents do contain classified information, please segregate all unclassified material within the classified documents, provide all unclassified information directly to the Committee, and provide a classified addendum to the Office of Senate Security. Although the Committee complies with all laws and regulations governing the handling of classified information, it is not bound, absent its prior agreement, by any handling restrictions or instructions on unclassified information unilaterally asserted by the Executive Branch.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please respond by December 12, 2016. If you have any questions, please contact Katherine Nikas of my Committee staff at (202) 224-5225.


Charles E. Grassley
Senate Committee on the Judiciary


The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on the Judiciary

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