Islamic State claims responsibility for Minnesota mall stabbings

The news agency affiliated with the militant group issued a statement Sunday calling the attacker 'a soldier of the Islamic State.'

Dave Schwarz/St. Cloud Times/AP
People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall between Macy's and Target as officials investigate a reported multiple stabbing incident, Saturday in St. Cloud, Minn.

The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for an attack that injured nine people at a mall in St. Cloud, Minn., Saturday. 

The group's news agency said on Sunday that the man, who was shot dead by an off-duty police officer, was a "soldier of the Islamic State." Police said the suspect made references to Allah and asked at least one stabbing victim if he or she was Muslim before assaulting that person. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident as a "potential act of terror," Richard Thornton, FBI special agent in charge of the agency's Minneapolis division, said in a news conference Sunday.

That same day, Amaq, the news agency affiliated with the self-proclaimed Islamic State, issued a statement saying: "The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition." 

Leaders of Minnesota's Somali community, the largest in the nation, were quick to condemn the attack. Since 2007, dozens of people from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area have traveled overseas to join the Islamic State or al Shabaab, a Somalia-based militant group, US prosecutors said. Many of them are young Somali-American men. 

"The news of the St. Cloud mall was shocking to the friends, relatives and community of the deceased ... We do not know the motive of that stabbing incident," said Mohamoud Mohamed of the St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Organization. "We are afraid of the consequences of this incident. We would like to say loud that our community in central Minnesota has no relationship with ISIS or any other Islamic terrorist group."

If the stabbings on Saturday are determined to be a terrorist act, it would be the first carried out by a Somali in the United States, said Karen Greenberg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law, to the Associated Press. 

The attacker was identified by his own father as 22-year-old Dahir Adan, a Somali-American college student who came to the US fifteen years ago and was a student at St. Cloud Technical and Community College. The officer who shot him was identified as Jason Falconer from the nearby Avon police department. 

"To me, in watching it, it looks like a training video for law enforcement – what law enforcement should do. Clearly he made a decision, and if not for him being there clearly this would be much worse than it was," St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis told reporters. 

The stabbing coincided with a bombing in Manhattan that injured 29 people on Saturday, and the discovery of five more bombs near a train station in New Jersey late Sunday night. Authorities have not found a connection between the bombs and the Minnesota attack. 

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.