At a press conference addressing a jihadist attack in Minnesota, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) warned Muslims are now potential victims at risk of being harmed in retaliation.
The St. Cloud, Minnesota, mass stabbing occurred at the city’s Crossroads Center mall on Saturday night. A Somali man allegedly shouted, “Allah,” as he stabbed nine people before he was shot dead by an off-duty officer. All nine victims stabbed at the Crossroads Center mall in St. Cloud survived.
The assailant, who entered the mall wearing a private security company uniform, was identified by his father as 22-year-old Dahir Adan. He reportedly moved to the United States 15 years ago from Africa. Authorities have neither confirmed the identity nor the immigration status of the attacker.
“The Minnesota Muslim community condemns all such acts of violence as inexcusable and un-Islamic,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the CAIR chapter in Minnesota, prior to a news conference Sunday, according to CAIR. “We are hopeful that the community will come together in a difficult tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”
During the press conference held by members of the Somali and Muslim community on Sunday, Hussein reminded people that the Somali Muslim community in the region has been targeted by a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment and emphasized that the stabbing incident was isolated.
“We are also concerned about the potential backlash to this community. We understand in St. Cloud there is more anti-Muslim organizing, and we hope that they will not use this instance as a way to continue to polarize, divide, and spread fear in our communities,” declared Hussein. “This is a tragedy that affects all people in St. Cloud, and this is an opportunity for our communities to come together.”
An Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)-linked news outlet, the Amaq agency, posted a statement from the terrorist group on Sunday claiming responsibility for the attack.
“The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition,” allegedly said ISIS in the statement.
Nevertheless, Hussein, the leader of the CAIR chapter in Minnesota — home to the largest concentration of Somalis in the United States, the large majority of whom are Muslims — said law enforcement have not established a connection between the attacker and the jihadist group.
The FBI has referred to the attack as “a potential act of terrorism.”
Meanwhile, St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday:
We still don’t have anything substantive that would suggest anything more than what we know already, which is this was a lone attacker. And right now, we’re trying to get to the bottom of his motivations.
The police chief did acknowledge that he has learned the attacker asked at least one victim if they were Muslim before he stabbed them. Police and witnesses have also accused Adan of making a reference to Allah as he committed the crimes.
Mohamoud Mohamed, a spokesman for the Central Minnesota Islamic Center in St. Cloud, stressed during the press conference Sunday that the central Minnesota Muslim community has no relationship with ISIS or any other “Islamic terrorist group.”
“We are the victims of those terrorist groups,” he proclaimed. “Islam is peace… I pray for the victims.”
“Nine Somali-Minnesotans were convicted at trial or pleaded guilty in a plot to travel to Syria to join ISIS,” notes CNN.” In years back, several dozen male residents left to join Al-Shabaab, a terrorist group [linked to al Qaeda] working to turn Somalia into an Islamist state.”
The Star Tribune pointed out that St. Cloud is home to a concentration of Minnesota’s large immigrant Muslim communities and tensions with some other members of the community has intensified at times.
Other heinous crimes committed by Muslims in the state have also caused friction between Muslims and other community members.
The off-duty officer from nearby Avon who stopped the attacker has been identified as Jason Falconer.
While addressing reporters Sunday, the CAIR leader said:
We join our fellow Minnesotans, members of this community to send our heartfelt condolences to the families and the victims of this tragedy. We’re all shocked just like you and we’re all grieving just like you. This is an act of an individual and we want our community to realize this fact.