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".
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."Three of the victims were hospitalised. All suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
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.
DEMOCRAT HILLARY CLINTON:
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying she strongly condemns what she characterised as "apparent terrorist attacks" in Minnesota, New Jersey and New York.
"Law enforcement officials are working to identify who was behind the attacks in New York and New Jersey, and we should give them the support they need to finish the job and bring those responsible to justice," Clinton said, adding: "We will not rest until that happens."
The former Secretary of State noted that Isis (Islamic State) had asserted responsibility for the stabbings of nine people inside a shopping centre in St Cloud, Minnesota, about 110km northwest of Minneapolis.
"This should steel our resolve to protect our country and defeat Isis and other terrorist groups," Clinton said.
Clinton's statement followed remarks to reporters on her campaign plane on Sunday in which she cautioned against rushing to conclusions about the attacks and criticised her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, for quickly telling an audience that an explosion in New York was a bomb that served as a reminder for the United States to "get very tough"."I have laid out a comprehensive plan to do that."
Today, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, said there was "no evidence of an international terrorism connection" to the incident in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan, where an "intentional" blast apparently was caused by an improvised explosive device on Sunday. But Cuomo said "a bomb exploding in New York is obviously an act of terrorism".
In her statement, Clinton said her plan to combat terrorism "includes launching an intelligence surge to help identify and thwart attacks before they can be carried out, and to spot lone-wolf attackers."
"We also need to work with Silicon Valley to counter propaganda and recruitment efforts online," she said. "Americans have faced threats before, and our resilience in the face of them only makes us stronger. I am confident we will once again choose resolve over fear."
Trump surrogate New Jersey Governor Chris Christie defended Trump's comments.
"Well, listen, I don't think you have to defer when saying that there was an explosion and a bomb in New York," Christie said. "I mean, everybody knew that, and it was being reported on television. . . . So there's a difference. Now, you shouldn't attribute it to any particular organisation or group if you don't have the facts or information to do that. But I think that what Donald did was perfectly appropriate."
Christie said that he does not know who is responsible for the bombings in New York and New Jersey, but he does know what to call the attacks.
"You can call them whatever you want - they are terrorism, though," Christie said on CNN. "There's no doubt about that. They're terrorism. Now, who's responsible and what the motive was is something else that, hopefully, we're going to find out in the days ahead."
Republican running-mate Governor Mike Pence says "we're all troubled in our hearts" about explosions in New Jersey and New York and a knife attack in Minnesota. Pence says that whether the incidents were acts of terrorism or inspired by terrorists, "prayer and vigilance is the order of the day".