The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has claimed responsibility for a series of stabbings at the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud, Minn. yesterday. Initial casualty reports say eight people were wounded. The perpetrator was killed by an off-duty police officer.
“The executor of the stabbing attacks in Minnesota yesterday was a soldier of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls to target the citizens of countries belonging to the crusader coalition,” Amaq’s claim of responsibility reads. The statement was issued in both Arabic and English on multiple websites.
St. Cloud police chief William Blair Anderson briefed the public during a press conference in the early hours of the morning. Anderson explained that the person responsible for the stabbings was dressed in a security uniform, “made some references to Allah,” and asked at least one of the victims if he or she was a Muslim.
That last detail is consistent with jihadi operations in the past. A team of Islamic State terrorists reportedly separated Muslims from non-Muslims during an attack at a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh in early July. Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in East Africa, did the same during the siege of the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2013.
Amaq’s statement does not include any specific details about the terrorist. But it is similar to other Amaq claims. After several attacks in Europe this past summer, Amaq said the terrorists responsible had responded “to calls to target countries belonging to the crusader coalition.” Similar language was used in the statement concerning the stabbings in Minnesota.
Amaq has repeatedly described terrorists as “soldiers” of the Islamic State
Amaq and other propaganda outlets frequently describe the terrorists who carry out such deeds as “soldiers” of the caliphate.
For example, the Islamic State described the May 2015 shooters in Garland, Tex. and the couple who assaulted a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. in Dec. 2015 as the group’s “soldiers.” The San Bernardino terrorists were also labeled “supporters.”
The team of jihadists responsible for the Nov. 2015 assault in Paris was hailed as “a group of believers from the soldiers of the Caliphate.”
Omar Mateen, who repeatedly pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi the night of his shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June, was described as a “fighter” for the organization.
Amaq said Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who drove a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, was “a soldier of the Islamic State.” The same wording was also used to label the slasher in Würzburg, Germany.
After the Nice, Würzburg, Ansbach (Germany) and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (Normandy, France) attacks, Amaq also emphasized that the men responsible had acted “in response to calls to target countries belonging to the crusader coalition.”
After the operations in Würzburg, Ansbach, Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and Balashikha (Russia), Amaq disseminated videos of the terrorists responsible swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. The videos were recorded beforehand, demonstrating that the jihadists had at least one digital tie to the Islamic State’s operations.
Prior to his demise in August, Abu Muhammad al Adnani repeatedly called on the so-called “caliphate’s” members and supporters to strike the coalition of nations targeting its territory in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Adnani was the Islamic State’s spokesman and oversaw the group’s external operations before he was killed in an American airstrike.