- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2016

The mother of a Somali refugee who injured 11 people last month in an attack at Ohio State University had told immigration officials that her children were at risk of being kidnapped or recruited by a terrorist group when she sought asylum for her family, according to a senator questioning the Obama administration’s vetting of the man.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley asked about the degree to which immigration officials had questioned Abdul Razak Ali Artan and his siblings about any potential interactions with or ties to al-Shabab, in a letter Thursday to the Department of Homeland Security.

Mr. Grassley, Iowa Republican, wrote that records obtained by the committee indicated Artan’s mother had written in asylum paperwork that her husband had been kidnapped and she feared her children would be kidnapped and recruited by the Somali-based terrorist group.

“This information should have caused the asylum officer to conduct additional questioning of the older children to better understand ties to a group that the United States designated as a foreign terrorist organization in 2008,” Mr. Grassley wrote. “Further questioning could have eliminated the possibility that the asylees had dubious ties to the terrorist group and could have allowed for more robust vetting and data collection. However, although common practice in these cases, no additional questioning was conducted.”

Artan, an Ohio State University student, injured 11 people during a November attack when he plowed a car into pedestrians, then began stabbing others with a butcher knife. A campus police officer fatally shot Artan after he ignored orders to drop the knife.

Investigators have said Artan may have been inspired by the late al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and the Islamic State, but that it was too soon to definitively call the attack terrorism. Officials have not cited any specific links to al-Shabab, the East African group is aligned with al Qaeda.

Officials said Artan and his family came to the United States in 2014 after living for some time in a refugee camp in Pakistan.

Mr. Grassley also is seeking immigration and criminal history records for Artan’s mother and his eight siblings, as well as documents related any interviews done before granting her refugee status.

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