The executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Jaylani Hussein, said that in the wake of a terrorist attack on innocent people at a St. Cloud shopping mall he is worried retaliation against the Muslim community in the state. “The Minnesota Muslim community condemns all such acts of violence as inexcusable and un-Islamic.” However, there are reports that the perpetrator asked shoppers at the mall whether or not they were Muslim. He stabbed those who were not Muslim.
St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said the assailant entered the Crossroads Center mall at around 8 p.m. last night. “That individual made some references to Allah and we confirmed that he asked at least one person if they were Muslim before assaulting them,” he added. The perpetrator, Dahir A. Adan, cried “Allah” before carrying out the mayhem. He wounded nine people.
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"We are hopeful that the community will come together in a difficult tragedy," said Hussein of CAIR. He asserted that there is a history of anti-Muslim sentiment in the state. In 2013, for instance, a brawl broke out in South Minneapolis high school between black American students and Somali refugees.
Hussein went to St. Cloud today and has been in contact with Somali community leaders since the attack last night. One in three Somalis living in the United States reside in Minnesota. "We are all responsible for the safety of community members," he said. "We are all responsible to not take an isolated incident and generalize it to reflect the larger community."
Even while an Islamic State-run news agency claimed today that the assailant was a “soldier of the Islamic State” and that the FBI is now investigating the incident as an act of terrorism, Hussein is assured that no connection to ISIS has been proven. "It's fortunate that the victims will recover. We hope they'll have a speedy recovery. ... Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," Hussein said.
Adan’s victims included seven men, a woman, and a 15-year-old girl. One of the two persons hospitalized is being treated for life-threatening injuries. The perpetrator was a student at a local university and worked part-time as a security guard. At the time of the attack, he was dressed in a security guard uniform. "We do know that he was wearing a private security uniform," said St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson in a press conference. "We're in the process right now of trying to figure out if he, in fact, worked for a private security company or if he worked for one previously."
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An off-duty police officer confronted Adan and shot him three times. Adan died at the scene. The officer said that despite being shot the first time, Adan got up again and was shot two more times. The stabbings occurred at several locations within the mall, including several stores and a common area. While the mall has security teams, none of its members are armed. Adan had several encounters with police in the past, including minor traffic infractions. None resulted in an arrest.
CAIR released a statement after the attack and identified the attacker as a "young Somali man in his mid-20s who worked as a security guard (not at the mall) and was a college student." His family expressed surprise at his actions and said he showed no visible mental health issues. He had, however, complained recently of insomnia.
Gov. Mark Dayton (D)
No place for religious intolerance in Minnesota
"I am appalled at the terrible attacks on innocent Minnesotans in St. Cloud last night," Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) said in a statement. "If true that they were motivated by religious bigotry, I condemn them even more strongly. There is no place in Minnesota for intolerance of all Americans' constitutional right to worship according to their beliefs.
“I am deeply grateful to the heroic law enforcement officer, whose swift response prevented an even worse attack. And I extend my very best wishes to the victims for their swift and complete recoveries. I ask everyone in the St. Cloud area and throughout Minnesota to rise above this atrocity and act to make religious and racial tolerance one of the ways in which Minnesotans again lead our country.”
“The Minnesota Muslim community condemns all such acts of violence as inexcusable and un-Islamic,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein. "We are hopeful that the community will come together in a difficult tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families."
Ashley Bayne, an employee of JCPenney at the mall, was visiting a co-worker at the time of the attack. She told CNN today, "All of sudden, chaos just broke out," adding, "There was a bunch of people running into the JCPenney mall entrance, and they were just screaming that someone was going around the mall stabbing people, and that there was blood everywhere. It was just honestly a really scary experience." Bayne said she ran to her car and left the parking lot.
Jason Falconer, an off-duty police officer from nearby Avon, is being called “clearly a hero” for shooting the perpetrator to death as he threatened other shoppers at the mall. Officer Falconer works part-time for the force in Avon and is a former police chief of Albany, Minnesota. Closed-circuit video images revealed details of his confrontation with Adan. According to the mayor of St. Cloud, Officer Falconer shot Adan while the Somali lunged at him with a knife. He then shot Adan again after he came back up three different times.
Local police raided the family's apartment, seizing photos and other materials but said nothing to him about the mall attack.
Today, Somali community leader Abdul Kulane said Dahir was a good student who worked part-time as a security guard. He added, “The entire community are shocked by this incident...We would like to offer our sympathies to those affected, their families and the entire St. Cloud community.”
“He was helpful to his family and as far as we know, he never had a violent history," said Kulane, "as far as his family and the community can remember. He was a friendly and active community member."
“As far as the incident goes, we don’t know what happened. All the information circulating in the media are speculations. It could involve a fight that led to this incident. It could be anything,” he said.
Sydney Weires told the St Cloud Times she saw a mall security guard who ran while shouting, “Call the cops! Call the cops!,” after a loud scream was heard. Weires then saw a man drenched in blood, while another man who bled from his face screamed, “Get the f*** out!,” according to the St. Cloud Times.
Somali combatants for ISIS
At least 15 American citizens or residents are known to have joined the ranks of the Islamic State terrorists besetting Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon. Among them are Hanad Abdullahl Muhallim, formerly of Minneapolis. Mohallim was among several recruits from the Somali-American community in Minneapolis. His nom de guerre is "Abdulwalid Al Somali."
Another is Abdi Al Fatah Nur, who is also known as Abu Sleiman Al Somali. He left Minneapolis in 2014. He has been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. Nur's fate is unknown. However, he may have been killed.
Yet another is Yusuf Jama, who left home in Minneapolis and joined ISIS when he was 21. Nur is believed to have been killed in August 2014.