St. Cloud stabbing: Faith leaders, suspect’s family call for calm and unity

Published 7:23 am Tuesday, September 20, 2016

By Ben Rodgers

St. Cloud Times

ST. CLOUD — Leaders of the St. Cloud faith community and a group representing Muslims in Minnesota gathered Monday evening to call for unity in the wake of Saturday’s mall attack. The family of the suspect also made its first public statement, through a lawyer, calling for unity in the community and the state.

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The group of 20-plus leaders from Muslim and Christian faiths used the press conference as an opportunity to express support for victims and to support the various faith communities that are grieving. During the conference, faith leaders promoted the social media hashtag #StCloudTogether.

“I am proud to stand with these leaders today to really offer a message of hope, a message of a community and we are proclaiming from this tragedy we can move forward,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Dahir Adan, the man responsible for attacks on 10 people at Crossroads Center, was a Somali-American who reportedly referred to Allah and the Muslim faith during the incident. So far nothing in the investigation has linked him to terrorist influences, but members of the community are on guard to avoid tensions or repercussions.

To be able to heal from Saturday’s events, dialogue among those of different faiths is imperative, leaders said Monday.

“The anti of fear is faith,” said the Rev. James Alberts of Higher Ground Church of God in Christ. “As a faith community we’ve come together to bring about a sense of calm and understanding that may not exist in any other place at this time.”

Members of the Somali-American and Muslim community expressed thanks for the solidarity they received from those of other faiths.

“We are worshiping one God, we are practicing faith from one source,” Mahamoud Mohamed, executive director of the St. Cloud Area Somali Salvation Association, said. “What we have is human differences and those human differences can be understood and respected. We are appreciating what our brothers and sisters from other faiths are doing in Central Minnesota.”

After faith leaders spoke, a lawyer representing Adan’s family read a statement.

“We are devastated by (the) incomprehensible tragic event of last Saturday evening,” Abdulwahid Osman said, speaking for the family.

“Our family loves St. Cloud and this state and we are an integral part of the fabric of this society,” he said. “Therefore, we urge citizens of St. Cloud and of this state to stay united and let the law enforcement agencies gather the facts and do their job.”

Follow Ben Rodgers on Twitter at @benrodgers1 and on Facebook at Ben Rodgers — St. Cloud Times.

Statement from the family of Dahir Adan

This statement was read in a press conference Monday, Sept. 19, 2016, at St. Cloud City Hall by attorney Abdulwahid Osman, Brooklyn Park.

“We are devastated by (the) incomprehensible tragic event of last Saturday evening.

As we mourn the death of our son, Dahir Adan, who was very dear to us, we are in deep shock as everyone else is in the State of Minnesota. We express our deepest sympathy and condolences to all those injured and others who were impacted as a result of the incident at the Crossroads mall. We pray for their speedy recovery.

As a family, we are committed to fully cooperating, within the limits of the law, with all the relevant law enforcement agencies as they conduct their investigation.

Somalis report Confederate flag waving, threats

By Doualy Xaykaothao FM

St. CLOUD — Less than 24 hours after the Saturday knife attack at the Crossroads Center mall that injured 10 and left the assailant dead, there were reports of motorcyclists and drivers in pickup trucks going through Somali neighborhoods in St. Cloud, waving large Confederate and U.S. flags.

Doll Hussein and Abdi Fadumo, both 56-years-old, said they witnessed the incident while sitting outside their apartment building.

“She said she was terrified. She said there were loud noises. They were showing the flags, screaming, and showing signs.”

Their interpreter is a 32-year-old Somali American, who said he graduated with honors with a degree in electrical engineering, but hasn’t been able to find a job in St. Cloud. He didn’t want to be identified, fearing public retaliation.

“Why hate, why show us the flag,” he said. “Does that flag not represent us as an American? Are we not included in that flag?”

It’s a conversation that he’s having with many people, including his mom’s neighbor, Joel Stoltz.

Stoltz is a long-time St. Cloud resident. He also saw the group of motorcyclists and truck drivers on Sunday.

“I don’t think they’re meaning any harm, as much as they’re making a statement that what happened was wrong,” Stoltz said. “They were angered by it.”

Federal investigators say they are still looking into why a 20-year-old Somali man from St. Cloud injured 10 people at a shopping mall in a knife attack before he was killed. Police have identified him as Dahir Adan.

The family of Dahir Adan said in a written statement released Monday they were mourning their son, and praying for the recovery of the people injured at the mall. They also said they intend to cooperate with investigators “within the limits of the law.”

Across from the apartment building where Adan once lived, one man had a lot to say about Somalis, but didn’t offer his last name.

“I don’t want my name … my name is John, that’s as far as I’m going.”

He’s 59, and claims Somalis are not assimilating in central Minnesota.

“My mother’s a war bride from Paris, and they came here, they assimilated. All the Somalis, they want their people here, and they want their religion, and their laws. They’re getting all the free money they can get, using everything up. I’m tired of it,” he said.

Comments like his are exactly what Lul Hersi is tired of too. She’s Somali, a single mom of four children, and works as a professional interpreter and translator at local hospitals.

“People are scared. People are being bullied. Driving by, people are called names at Wal-Mart yesterday, just thinking about that, and what’s coming next. We are being victimized and terrorized, all over, every day, something new.”

That’s unacceptable for Muhayadin Mohamed, the president of the Islamic Center of St. Cloud.

“We’re angry, too. We are saddened about what happened, and we don’t want this in our city, so the people who are trying to put us on a different side, and say like ‘you did it to us’, we are saying ‘this happened to us’ and we have to stand together to face this, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

For now, investigators say they believe Adan acted alone. Federal authorities are trying to determine if the mall stabbing was a potential terrorist act.

Islamic State claiming attacks reflects influence obsession

CHICAGO (AP) — Islamic State militants rarely miss a chance, however tenuous the link, to claim at least partial credit for apparent terrorist attacks on U.S soil, from June’s deadly mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, to the stabbing of 10 people in a Minnesota shopping mall Saturday.

They’re eager to precisely because they apparently haven’t carried out carefully planned attacks here and because, in terrorism circles, your influence is often ranked by numbers of attacks, terrorism experts say.

“If they can’t claim attacks, they can’t get recruits and can’t raise money,” according to Dan Byman, a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Some militant groups, including al-Qaida, are more reluctant about associating themselves with attackers unless it is clear they adhere to their core beliefs, Byman said. But Islamic State appears to be less discriminating, requiring little information about attackers, said Karen Greenberg, the director of the Fordham Law School’s Center on National Security in New York.

“If they find out the person is Muslim — that alone might be enough for them to claim credit,” she said.

Other groups may also pause to gauge whether an attack crossed certain lines of brutality, something that Byman said isn’t an issue for IS, whose calling card has been extreme violence.

An Islamic State-run news agency claimed on Sunday that the attack at the Crossroads Center mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, was a “soldier of the Islamic State: who had heeded calls for attacks in nations in the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition. But authorities say there’s no sign yet that the attacker, identified by his father as Somali immigrant Dahir Adan, was radicalized or communicated with any terrorist group.

The speed with which IS weighed in may also say something about a competition for recruits between the Middle East-based IS and the east Africa-based militant group al-Shabab, which has recruited Somali-Americans from Minnesota with some success in recent years, but has seen allegiances switching increasingly from al-Shabab to Islamic State, Greenberg said.