Community shocked by St. Cloud stabbing; Uncertainty surrounds the motives of attacker

Published 10:26 am Monday, September 19, 2016

By Stephanie Dickrell

St. Cloud Times

St. CLOUD — Somali-American leaders expressed shock and sympathy over attacks Saturday at Crossroads Center by a man from their community.

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Leaders say they are uncertain of motives behind the attack by Dahir Adan, who was killed during the spree by an off-duty police officer. The men expressed sympathy for the victims of the attack, their families and the entire community. They are also providing support to Adan’s family.

On Sunday afternoon leaders of the city’s Somali-American community condemned the attacks in a nationally televised press conference.

“We want to strongly condemn any terrorist actions,” Abdul Kulane said. “We don’t believe in (violence) and we don’t agree with anyone who takes matters into his own hands and hurts other people.”

Leaders said the acts of a single person do not represent the Muslim or Somali community in Central Minnesota.

“They are minorities in our faith that are misusing the credibility of our faith,” said Mohamoud Mohamed, executive director of the St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Association, or SASSO. “Islam is peace.”

As attention turns to the wider community reaction, one leader voiced hopes that the attack does not prompt retaliation.

“The entire community are shocked by this incident. The family and the community would like to know the whole picture of this incident,” Kulane said in an interview. “Again, our sympathy goes to the families and victims and the entire community.”

Leaders spoke to the Times earlier Sunday as representatives for the family of Dahir Adan.

“We have come today to visit the family that was affected by this. It is really very tragic,” Kulane said. “St. Cloud and Somali community leaders, we would like to express our condolences to the victims and their families, from the incident at Crossroad mall. We would like to offer our sympathies to those affected, their families and the entire St. Cloud community.”

He said the family and community are awaiting the full picture of the incident from police.

“This is what we do know so far: The alleged suspect is Dahir Ahmed Adan. We know him in this community as an exceptional graduate from Apollo High School. He graduated with an honor,” Kulane said. He also had been a student at St. Cloud State University earlier this year.

“While maintaining a high GPA, he worked part-time as a private security officer,” Kulane said. “He was helpful to his family and as far as we know, he never had a violent history, as far as his family and the community can remember. He was a friendly and active community member.”

The details of the actual incident are unclear.

“All the information circulating in the media are speculations,” Kulane said. “These are the facts we know: He went to buy an iPhone from the Crossroads mall,” Kulane said. “The last time he was seen was 6-6:30 p.m.”

The group would not give any other details about Adan’s family, said Haji Yusuf, community director for UniteCloud.

“We want to protect the family right now. When they are ready to give a statement, when they’re ready to speak, they’ll do so at their own time,” he said. At the moment, it’s good that we give them the privacy and the respect that they deserve as they go through this, losing their son.

Others expressed disbelief and hope to see the complete picture of the incident, Mohamed said.

“The Somali community was working very hard when we heard the tragedy of the incident,” Mohamed said. “When we found out the name of the suspect, we contacted the family, we contacted the friends. Up to now, everybody is shocked. Nobody could believe that Dahir could be involved in that kind of fact,” Mohamed said. “We are looking forward to see the police’s full report. And we would like to know also, follow up to the point that we see the actual incident in the mall, the video record in the stores. It is a strange thing. It is uncommon. We don’t know how (it happened).”

Mohayadin Mohamed, president of the Islamic Center of St. Cloud, said Islam does not condone violence against innocent civilians.

“The Islamic Center of St Cloud is shaken and saddened by what happened in St. Cloud Crossroads Center last night, Saturday Sept. 17. Our thoughts and prayers are with victims and their families in this tragic cowardly act. This tragedy affects us all as St. Cloud community members.

“We are learning as everyone else and awaiting to hear from law enforcement as the events unfold. We hope a speedy recovery for victims of this attack.”

The leader of a Minnesota group focused on Islamic relations says he is worried about retaliation against the Somali-American community.

“We are hopeful that the community will come together in a difficult tragedy,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

He said there is concern about retaliation in St. Cloud because of a history of anti-Muslim sentiment here.

Hussein planned to visit St. Cloud on Sunday to learn how CAIR can support the community. He has been in contact with local Somali leaders since late Saturday night.

“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.”

An Islamic State-run news agency claimed Sunday that the attacker was a “soldier of the Islamic State,” but Hussein pointed out that a connection to ISIS has not 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.

 —Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.