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Ohio varsity knife attacker ‘nice guy’ but unknown to many

The Somali-born student, who injured nearly a dozen people in a car-and-knife attack at the Ohio State University, showed few signs of bitterness, despite what must have been a difficult early life and even danced onto the stage when he graduated from community college.

Abdul Razak Ali Artan was fatally shot by a university police officer when he refused to drop his knife during Monday’s attack.

Those who knew him say he always said ‘hello’ to his neighbours in the low-rent apartment complex, where he lived with his mother and siblings on the city’s west side. 

The 18-year-old stopped in frequently at a nearby convenience store for snacks and attended a local mosque. He had graduated with honors from the Columbus State Community College last May, earning an associate of arts degree. 

A video of his graduation ceremony shows him jumping and spinning onto the stage and smiling broadly, drawing laughs, cheers and smiles from graduates and faculty members. 

He transferred to Ohio State to get his bachelor’s degree and gave an interview to the university’s student newspaper in August, saying that he was looking for a place to pray openly and worried how he would be received.

Yet leaders of the mosque say they don’t remember Artan and Ohio State’s Muslim and Somali student groups say he wasn’t affiliated with their organisations. “None of us could recognize his face,” said Horsed Noah, director of the Abubakar Assiddiq Islamic Center, a mosque around the corner from Artan’s apartment.

Artan was not known to FBI counterterrorism authorities before Monday’s rampage, Angela Byers, the FBI’s special agent in charge in Cincinnati, said.

On the day of Monday’s attack, Artan got ready to attend classes as usual, even dropping his siblings off at their school first. 
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