The attack at Ohio State University on Monday, when a student rammed his car into a group of pedestrians and began stabbing them with a butcher knife — wounding 11 — illustrates a crucial fact about mass violence, says a Baylor University researcher on terrorism.
“If every gun was swept off the planet tomorrow, very ordinary and low-skilled extremists could still perpetrate horrendous violence through low-tech terror,” said Philip Jenkins, Ph.D., author and Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion.
Authorities are looking into whether the incident was terrorism. The attacker, who was shot and killed by a law enforcement officer after the rampage, had written on Facebook that he was “sick and tired” of seeing fellow Muslims killed and tortured.
Terrorists can kill innocent people in large numbers without guns and automatic assault weapons, Jenkins said, citing two 2006 attacks in particular: one by an Afghan immigrant who used his SUV to attack civilians in San Francisco Bay, killing one and injuring 19; and another by an Iranian who used his SUV to attack passersby at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, injuring nine.
“The Islamic State especially recommends that followers around the world should use whatever means available to attack and kill unbelievers, and if guns and explosives are not easily found, then knives are quite acceptable,” Jenkins wrote in a July column in The American Conservative. That article appeared a week before a lone extremist used a truck to kill some 90 people in Nice, France.
“The decision by ISIL to use these tactics reflects the fact that so many networks have been broken up by intelligence and surveillance that terrorists need a method where don’t leave a trail, and they’re relying on individuals,” Jenkins said. Monday’s attack in Columbus, Ohio, follows exactly the models recommended by ISIL and publicized on their websites, he said.
He noted that mass knife attacks also occur quite frequently in China. Jenkins is the author of “Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses” and The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade.”
To request an interview with Jenkins, contact Terry Goodrich at (254) 710-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org