Dahir Adan, a Somali computer student, went to a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, to “buy an iPhone 7,” but instead stabbed nine people before being shot to death.
The incident involving 22-year-old Adan surfaced on Monday as authorities conducted an investigation concerning Adan’s motif and background. An ISIS-related news agency called Adan a “soldier of the Islamic state,” although there has been no clear indication of contact between the Somali student and the terrorist group.
An assault by a Somali immigrant
Haji Yussuf, a close friend to Adan’s family and a member of the local Somali community, let authorities know that Adan was behaving strangely over the course of the preceding week. Adan stabbed one woman, seven men, and a 15-year-old girl, before being shot to death by Jason Falconer, former chief of police who was at the scene. Falconer’s bravery was praised by President Obama.
At the moment, police state that there has been no indication of Adan working in conjunction with others nor with the Islamic State. The FBI acknowledged the assault as a potential act of terror.
Adan worked as a security official for an Electrolux retail shop in the same mall he attacked, working for security company Securitas. He was wearing his uniform when he started the assault.
Dahir Adan was acknowledged by Yussuf as a promising man, who cherished family values and was deeply intelligent. Yussuf believes that there is no room for links with ISIS.
The problem with today’s wave of radical extremism
Security experts argue that the problem with ISIS and with any radical extremist group is its influence. Lone wolves that act on their own can oftentimes pledge allegiance to ISIS and its leaders, as it was the case of the Orlando gay nightclub shooting. Whenever they see an opportunity, the Islamic State claims responsibility for the attacks in order to increase their apparent presence and range of action.
Minnesota harbors the largest Somali population in the United States, counting for up to 40,000 individuals. At least 20 of them have left the country to join Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which is centralized in Somalia; others have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State.
Adan’s family has been dumbfounded by his sudden burst of violence, as they cannot find a link between him and a terrorist group. The assault would be the first time a Somali person attacks U.S. citizens on American soil.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for four attacks in the U.S. since 2015, adding to Adan’s case the Orlando nightclub, Garland, and San Bernardino shootings.
Lone wolf attacks are the most concerning acts of violence as they are hard to prevent. Luckily, Dahir Adan failed to produce a weapon, unlike many previous incidents in the form of school and mall massacres.
Assaults in public places have become more frequent in both the U.S. and Canada, and although joint intelligence efforts have made progress in monitoring radical tendencies, there will always be the possibility of another attack occurring at any place, as anyone can become obsessed with the idea of martyrdom and of fighting for a cause that commands the killing of innocents just because they have a different set of beliefs.