Minnesota mall attacker identified as Somali-born student

Adan was a student at a local college, and was working part-time as a private security guard.
Adan was a student at a local college, and was working part-time as a private security guard.

NEW YORK • The knife-wielding assailant at a Minnesota mall has been identified by two local newspapers as Somali-born Dahir Adan.

A news agency linked to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) earlier claimed "a soldier" of the militant group was behind the stabbings that St Cloud police said left nine, and not eight, people injured at the Crossroads Centre mall last Saturday night.

The police said the 22-year-old attacker, who was in a security guard uniform, had asked some victims whether they were Muslim and also made "some references to Allah" before stabbing them.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune, which interviewed Adan's father, said he was a student at a local college, and was working part-time as a private security guard.

Adan was born in Africa but had lived in the United States for 15 years, his father told the newspaper, adding that he had "no suspicion" that his son was involved in any extremist activity.

But the ISIS-linked Amaq news agency claimed on Sunday that the "executor of the stabbing attacks... was a soldier of the Islamic State".

The militant group has repeatedly urged supporters to carry out lone-wolf attacks on countries in the US-led coalition that is targeting ISIS militants with air strikes in Syria and Iraq.

The attack is being investigated as "a potential act of terrorism", Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Rick Thornton told reporters. But he said it was not yet known if the suspect had any links with - or was inspired by - a "foreign terrorist organisation".

Leaders of the local Somali- American community issued a statement of sympathy for the families and victims of the attack, the St Cloud Times reported.

About 25,000 Somalis live in Minnesota, and the Minneapolis/ St Paul area, about 110km south-east of St Cloud, has the country's largest concentration of Somalis.

Meanwhile, St Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis praised as "a hero" off-duty police officer Jason Falconer, who confronted the attacker and fatally shot him as he charged with a knife.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'Minnesota mall attacker identified as Somali-born student'. Print Edition | Subscribe