President-elect Donald Trump weighed in with his thoughts about the attack Monday on the campus of Ohio State University, which left several injured, in his seemingly now-customary morning Twitter address to the nation. Trump's tweet Wednesday returned to one of the major themes of his campaign, stoking fear of refugees:
ISIS is taking credit for the terrible stabbing attack at Ohio State University by a Somali refugee who should not have been in our country.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2016
The president-elect's tweet is either incorrect or lacks context on a number of levels.
The first is that while the Islamic State group did take credit for the attack the day after it occurred, this is standard procedure with the terror group, even if it wasn't directly involved. The Islamic State released a brief statement calling attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan a "soldier" while using stock phrases it's used to take credit for other attacks. Two federal anti-terrorism officials told NBC News that there was no link or contact between Artan and ISIS, and he doesn't appear to have been involved with the group other than a few references in a Facebook post he made before the attack.
Artan's legal status in the country is also a bit complex. He was born in Somalia, but appears to have lived in Pakistan for about seven years before legally coming to the United States in 2014. His mother had refugee status, meaning it was automatically applied to Artan as well. However, his status at the time of the attack was of a legal permanent resident.
This isn't the first time Trump has singled out the Somali immigrant community. Two days before the election, he spoke at a rally in Minneapolis, vaguely warning of "the problems caused with faulty refugee vetting, with very large numbers of Somali refugees coming into your state." He called it a "disaster" and claimed that residents "don’t even have the right to talk about it.”
While there have been about 30 Somali immigrants from Minnesota known to have left the U.S. to join terror groups, most of the Somali Americans living in the Twin Cities - which has the largest concentration of the group - are productively living, working, and making steadily growing economic contributions to the region.
Still, the idea of foreign immigrants from a poor and distant country, supposedly entering unchecked and committing random acts of terror, will continue to have great pull for politicians. And President-elect Trump is signaling that he will perhaps continue to exploit it to further his agenda.