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Violent Jihad

10 Things We Should Learn From the Ohio State Attack

The attack was one of the least-covered jihadist attack on American soil. The media dropped the issue like a hot potato.

BY Shireen Qudosi · @ShireenQudosi | December 2, 2016

Americans returned from Thanksgiving to news of the latest jihadi attack waged by a Somali Muslim, Abdul Razak Ali Artan. Declaring that he had reached a “boiling point,” the 18-year-old Ohio State University student drove a car into a crowded area on the Columbus campus. He then exited the vehicle and attacked the crowd with a knife. Artan injured 11 students before being killed by a university police officer.

Artan was a legal resident who came to the US through Pakistan in 2014. He arrived with his family, securing a refugee status after having escaped from Somalia.

Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake, along with Ohio State Governor John Kasich, shied away from identifying the cause of the attack. This despite Artan’s last Facebook post embracing a chilling message that in part read, “By Allah, we will not let you sleep unless you give peace to the Muslims…”

Terrorism expert Walid Phares is clear about the motive. In private correspondence, Dr. Phares shares his belief that the Ohio State attack is “Another case of urban Jihadism. At this point the issue isn’t even a link or not to ISIS or al Qaeda, but a link to the specific ideology called Jihadism. This is the generator of terror.”

In his book, The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy, Dr. Phares charts irreconcilable views between democracy and the violent ideology of jihadism that promotes a doctrine of death. Writing in The War of Ideas, Dr. Phares shares the insight that seems to escape academia and a former GOP presidential candidate:

The ushq al mout (love of death) is the backbone of suicide bombing and gives terrorism its most frightening firepower. Indeed, once the fear of death is subtracted from political planning and public concern, there are no limits to the power of Jihadism.

In the case of Ohio State jihadi Abdul Artan, the question is how did a child once fleeing Somalia under the fear of death then embrace death when finally under the protection of the greatest superpower? Further, how did decades of experience as a refugee escaping persecution not deter Artan from the jihadi doctrine of death? Answering these questions requires understanding how violent ideology slips through the slightest cracks in the system.

America is dealing with a crushing rise of jihadi dark web chatter that privatizes radicalization. Indoctrination into a violent political ideology thrives through combination of secret portals and chat rooms like AMAQ on Telegram that provide safe online communities for jihadi talk. Instant radicalization paired with travel to or from red-flag nations, broken immigration vetting and tracking systems, lack of community emphasis on assimilation, and the politicization of mosques as polarizing hotspots, places individuals on a three month fast track to radicalization.

Just three months prior, Artan was featured in ‘Humans of Ohio State’ – a profile in the university’s student paper – that showed Artan hyper-focused on prayer spaces and identity politics. Three months later, he’s pledged allegiance to ISIS in a killing spree. We could conclude that time period of radicalization was just this brief– or we could, far more reasonably, conclude that Artan’s use of the left’s victimhood narratives dovetail quite comfortably with his jihadi beliefs.

That is the hard reality we’re faced with. Instead, talking points have shifted to Islamophobia as a public health crisis for Muslims. And rather than recognizing the victims, mainstream media is humanizing the attacker as a social outcast who “loved America.” That real problem is the killing sprees some Muslims are engaging in; it is not the mean words penciled and shoved into the mail slot at the local mosque. The inability of Muslims to recognize a present danger versus fear of a hypothetical threat, only further places all Americans at risk because it prevents us from being able to collectively move forward in dealing with radical Islam. It also places Muslim Americans at greater risk; the more Muslims deny the causal link between Islam and jihad, deflecting attention to a self-victimizing rhetoric, the more rest of America grows frustrated. It is also worth asking whether Muslim American organizations and communities that obstruct discourse and discovery by misdirecting away from real problems should be included in a broader perimeter of public inquiry. Instead of dealing with the most recent eruption of radical Islam, the issue is swept under the rug and upon it sits the incubus we call Islamophobia.

Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Islamist groups like CAIR, who could not step away from the abacus of Muslim grievances for just one day, continued tallying letters (real or scripted) rather than looking beyond themselves to see that Muslim American communities have a much bigger problem: radicalization.

In fact, across American there were only a handful of outlets and personalities that are pressing for truth in dialogue. This includes Conservative Review’s Carly Hoilman, who took to higher ground in a piece titled “Difficult Conversations: Challenging Islam in the Wake of the Ohio State Attack.”

It also includes Michelle Malkin who tweeted, “Ohio State University jihad has virtually disappeared from national headlines –except for the p.c. ‘Muslims fear backlash’ stories.” That pattern was also spotted by the The Foreign Desk, which noted dark web chatter was on the rise with talk hailing the attack and allegiance being shown in the form of