Backlash against Somali-Americans feared following St. Cloud mall attack

People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall between Macy's and Target as officials investigate a reported multiple stabbing incident, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in St. Cloud, Minn. Police said multiple people were injured at the St. Cloud shopping mall on Saturday evening in an attack possibly involving both shooting and stabbing. The suspect is believed to be dead, St. Cloud Police Sgt. Jason Burke told the St. Cloud Times. (Dave Schwarz/St. Cloud Times via AP)
People stand near the entrance on the north side of Crossroads Center mall between Macy's and Target as officials investigate a reported multiple stabbing incident, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016, in St. Cloud, Minn. Police said multiple people were injured at the St. Cloud shopping mall on Saturday evening in an attack possibly involving both shooting and stabbing. The suspect is believed to be dead, St. Cloud Police Sgt. Jason Burke told the St. Cloud Times. (Dave Schwarz/St. Cloud Times via AP)

ROCHESTER, Minn. – A man who stabbed 9 people before being shot and killed by an off-duty police officer at the Crossroads Center Mall in St. Cloud used to work security there.

A spokeswoman for the Electrolux Home Products store says 22-year old Dahir Adan had worked for the security company Securitas. He had previously been assigned to work at the Electrolux store at the mall. His assignment ended in June.

Investigators say he was dressed as a security guard at the time of the stabbings.

The FBI is referring to the incident as a “potential act of terrorism.” Investigators say he made at least one reference to Allah, and asked one person if they were Muslim. The Islamic State group claims Adan is one of their own, however the FBI say it’s unclear if ISIS knew about the attack beforehand or if the terror group “inspired” the attack.

The Somali community in the central Minnesota area is condemning the violent attack, saying his actions do not reflect the larger Somali community. Meanwhile, leaders of organizations that focus on Islamic relations, including the Minnesota chapter of CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and the Rochester-based organization CIDI (Community Interfaith Dialogue on Islam) have concerns about potential backlash against Somali-Americans.

“I don’t want anybody trying to bank off of this situation and try to fuel any kind of political fire or to even fuel Islamophobia, it’s already so rampant in our society,” explains Regina Mustafa, founder of CIDI.

Mustafa says her first and main concern was with the victims of the attack and witnesses in the mall. She is encouraging people not place blame on any particular religious or ethnic group because of this one person’s actions.

Mustafa says she was frustrated when she heard reports of references to her religion, Islam, being used by the attacker.

“It’s like he had been reading a book written by people who hate Islam, it’s almost like he followed some kind of anti-Islamic handbook,” he explains. “He’s feeding right into the stereotype, so of course this makes the rest of our work so much more difficult.”

Mustafa does interfaith work within the Rochester community, including hosting a monthly “Faith Talk Show” where she invites guests from different religious backgrounds on to discuss their beliefs.

 

 

 

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