Sunday, September 18, 2016

Eight people stabbed at a mall in Minnesota. Attack referenced Allah and asked if people were Muslims.

Eight people were stabbed in an attack at a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Washington Post. The man was shot and killed by a off duty cop carrying a handgun. The suspect was wearing a security guard uniform and shouted about "Allah" as he was attacking people. Witnesses even said that he asked people if they were Muslims as he was stabbing. Seven victims were treated and released while one ended up in the hospital. Local officials did not call the attack terrorism and have not discovered a motive. The suspect has been identified by police and had a minor criminal record, but his name has not been released to the public. 

My Comment:
What a day yesterday. It's pretty clear that this was an terrorist attack with Jihadist motivations. Unlike the bombing in New York, this one has a clear link to Islam. The attacker invoked Allah and even asked people if they were Muslims. I guess it is possible that the guy was looking for Muslims to attack, but that seems extremely unlikely. It's clearly terrorism though, even if the local cops don' want to admit it. I doubt there are any international connections but this seems like the very definition of a lone wolf attack. 

I'm a bit concerned about the fact that the attacker was wearing a security uniform. Security officers are supposed to protect people, not attack them. I don't know if this guy was a guard or if he had just used the uniform of one, but either way it's bad. Using a guard's uniform as a disguise could have allowed him into areas he otherwise couldn't have gotten too and may have put his victims at ease before he struck. 

It is also concerning to me that mass stabbings/slashing seem to be on the rise as well. America is known for mass shootings but we seem to have seen an uptick of knife attacks as well. ISIS has called on lone wolf attackers to use any weapon they have on hand, be it knives, hatchets, or even swords. Such attacks probably won't have the casualties a mass shooting or bombing would have, but it still has a psychological aspect as well. Though logically I know it is more dangerous to be shot then stabbed, I fear getting cut with a knife more then being shot. It's so personal to stab someone with a knife and it takes a true believer to stab someone in close range combat. 

A mall is a fairly soft target for an attack. This mall was in a smaller town as well. St. Cloud is to the northwest of Minneapolis and from what I have been able to gather it's pretty similar to the minor suburb that I live in now. If a terrorist attack can happen there, then it could probably happen here as well. That is not a comforting thought for me at all. 

The main difference is that I don't think we have the same Muslim population that central Minnesota has. Minneapolis has long been a destination for Muslims from Somalia and they have long had a problem with people being recruited to Jihadist organizations in the city, like the al-Shabaab terror group. There is certainly a large pool of recruits in the area and a dark undercurrent of radicalism in the area. 

The good news is that a good guy with a gun stopped a mass shooting. The reports say it was an off duty officer, so it's not a straight example of a concealed carrier stopping an attack, but it's pretty close in my book. Had the cop not been there then this attack could have been much worse. As it stands right now it's very lucky that someone was there to shoot the suspect before he killed someone. 

It just goes to show how valuable it is to have armed people in "soft" targets like malls. Terrorists choose these places because they know that there isn't going to be anyone armed with a weapon to stop them. Though mall cops are a thing, they don't often carry guns. The only way this attack was going to stop is if there was a person with a gun on the scene, and having an off duty cop there probably reduced the response time by quite a bit. 

This has been a fairly exhausting weekend when it comes to terror attacks in the United States. There was this attack, the bombing in New York and the bombing in New Jersey. All of those attacks might have Jihadi connections and in two of the cases the suspects are still at large. I am hoping things calm down a bit after this. The great news is that other then the suspect in the St. Cloud attack, nobody died. Let's hope that luck continues.

EDIT: ISIS has taken credit for this attack.

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