Homeland Security

FBI Still Baffled Over Motive in Minnesota Mall Stabbing Attack Claimed by ISIS

Last September, why did 22-year-old Dahir Adan get dressed in a security guard uniform, enter the Crossroads Center shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, and — while shouting “Allahu Akhbar” — start stabbing victims?


After asking them if they were Muslims?

According to one senior FBI official in Minneapolis interviewed by the Associated Press, we may never know his true motive:

I began reporting on this terror attack here at PJ Media as victims were still being treated on the scene:

Perhaps one of the first investigatory clues to uncovering Adan’s motive: within a few hours, the ISIS Amaq agency released a statement claiming the attack by a “soldier of the Islamic State”:

And over the next few weeks, ISIS again made repeated claims about inspiring the attack:


ISIS even touted Adan’s example to motivate further stabbing attacks in the U.S.:


ISIS supporters were also identifying the attack with the terror group.

A few days after the attack, FBI Director James Comey said that Adan had appeared to be inspired by an “extremist ideology”:

What extremist ideology? Well, since the FBI director didn’t specify what “extremist ideology” that may have been, we may never know. But as I reported at the time, the far-Left Minneapolis Star Tribune immediately had an idea of what the ideological motivation behind the attack was — “anti-Muslim tensions”:


Remarkably, the Star Tribune didn’t even mention Adan’s name in that report, and the article was written in such a passive voice one could have been left with the impression that the attack was motivated by an anti-Muslim bigot looking to target Muslims.

Now, we’ve seen this media agnosticism in response to domestic terror attacks before, for instance, in Orlando last June:

But there appeared to be more investigative clues that may possibly have given investigators some direction to the would-be killer’s motive even early on:

A few weeks later when the FBI updated the media on the investigation, releasing video of the attack, there appeared to be some confirmation of those earlier investigatory clues:


Why Adan would be asking his victims if they were Muslim went unanswered. The best that media could surmise about his possible motive was a return to Comey’s “extremist ideology” explanation — but some attention was directed towards “religion” generically as well:

Fortunately, some media outlets, such as with this CBS News/Associated Press report, began digging just to find out what religion the FBI may have been referring to:

The stabbings at a central Minnesota mall last month that wounded 10 likely was premeditated by the attacker, who may have become radicalized recently, federal authorities said Thursday.

Dahir Ahmed Adan became interested in Islam in the last several months, withdrew from his friends and encouraged his sisters to be more religious, FBI Special Agent Rick Thornton said at a news conference.

Witnesses told investigators that 20-year-old Adan yelled “Islam, Islam” and “Allahu akbar,” as well as asking several people whether they were Muslim before stabbing them during the Sept. 17 attack, which started outside Crossroads Center mall before moving inside.

“We were told Adan had not previously shown an interest in religion. Adan also encouraged some female relatives to become more religiously observant,” Thornton said, adding that investigators continue to analyze Adan’s digital footprint, including his social media and online activity, and are trying to obtain permission to unlock his smartphone.

FBI Director James Comey said last week it appeared Adan was at least partly inspired by extremist ideology. Thornton also said that Adan went from being a high academic performer to failing out of college “almost overnight” after taking an increased interest in Islam.


Raising the issue of Adan’s Islamic faith may reflect efforts by over-zealous, Islamophobic FBI agents trying to implicate all Muslims for this attack.

That may be something for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to look into, but Adan’s family claimed he was innocent, and other groups, including Black Lives Matter, said the shooting was unjustified.

Others questioned whether he had any connections to the Islamic State at all, despite their claims:


So with all this ambiguity out there and only a few clues, possibly unrelated, to go on, the FBI may be correct: we may never know what motivated Dahir Adan in this attack.

All the public can do is let the FBI continue its investigation.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member