Public reports may be our most effective weapon against ‘lone wolf’ attacks
Precisely what motivated Abdul Razak Ali Artan to injure 11 people in an attack on the campus of Ohio State University may never be known. Fortunately, a campus police officer at the scene for another reason shot Artan dead.
It is a reasonable supposition that Artan was one of those “lone wolf” terrorists who have killed so many Americans.
Organizations such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State use the internet to encourage people living here to stage terrorist attacks. Artan made no secret of being in sympathy with the terrorists. He used his Facebook account to warn of “a sleeper cell, waiting for a signal.”
A student at OSU, Artan came here from his native Somalia, after living in Pakistan for about seven years. He fit the classic profile of a lone wolf — though the authorities often self-prohibit themselves from investigating such people. It would be “profiling,” you know.
That should not have kept those around Artan from worrying about him. Had he done or said anything that could have been used by the authorities to take him into custody? That is something members of Congress worried about homegrown terrorism should investigate.
But it is impossible for several reasons for the Department of Homeland Security to anticipate and block every threat.
That leaves our own safety up to us.
See something, say something has become a DHS motto because federal officials understand the public is their most effective, and often only, weapon against lone wolf attackers. Artan’s rampage right here in the heartland is a reminder the advice is good — but only so long as it is followed.