Minnesota mall stabber was 'a soldier of the Islamic State,' ISIS-linked news agency claims

By Kristine Guerra at Washington Post

People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall after a stabbing incident in the mall. Photo / AP
People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall after a stabbing incident in the mall. Photo / AP

A man who was killed after stabbing nine people on Saturday night inside a Minnesota mall was "a soldier of the Islamic State," an ISIS-linked news agency said yesterday.

The attack occurred around 8pm inside the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, about 112km northwest of Minneapolis, according to media reports. The man was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer.

The suspect, who was wearing a private security uniform, made at least one reference to Allah during the attack and asked at least one person whether they were Muslim before attacking them, according to the St. Cloud Police Department.

In a statement yesterday, Amaq News Agency said the suspect "carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition".

Three of the victims were hospitalised. All suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

The FBI is involved in the investigation. "We are working in concert with the St. Cloud Police Department," Minneapolis FBI field office spokesman Kyle Loven told The Washington Post. "Right now we're trying to ascertain the facts."

Loven would not comment on the Amaq claim or on the identity of the suspect.

During a news conference on Saturday night, St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson declined to call the attacks an act of terrorism. The suspect's motive remains unknown, he told reporters. A spokesman for the police department has not returned a call from The Post inquiring about a possible link to the terrorist group.

"I want everyone in St. Cloud to know we will be diligent and get to the bottom of this," Anderson told reporters. "Starting tomorrow, St. Cloud will not be the same anymore."

It's unclear at this time if the terrorist group had planned the attack or knew of it beforehand, according to the most recent news release from the St. Cloud Police Department.

"IS has encouraged lone wolf attacks. It has also claimed past attacks that are not believed to have been planned by its central leadership," according to the department.

Many of the attacks that the terrorist group has claimed since the highly coordinated shootings and bombings in Paris last November were carried out by individuals who were simply inspired by the group's ideology and likely never came into direct contact with ISIS operatives, The Post's Max Bearak wrote in July.

The attack happened on the same night that an explosion happened in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan in New York City. At least 29 people suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the blast. One person was seriously injured, authorities said.

Hours earlier, a pipe bomb exploded in a Jersey Shore garbage can shortly before a scheduled charity race benefiting Marines and Navy sailors.

On Friday, in Philadelphia, a gunman fired 18 shots at a police officer before shooting several others, including a woman who was killed.

Authorities say none of the incidents appear to be related.

- Washington Post

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