Unanswered Questions Fuel Doubts Among Friends of Minnesota Mall Attacker

Frustration is growing among members of the Somali community here who are eager for official information about a stabbing attack at a mall Saturday that left 10 people injured and the suspect, Dahir Adan, shot dead by an off-duty policeman. The episode is being investigated as a potential terrorist attack by the F.B.I.

“I don’t believe the terrorist part,” said Jamal Ali, 16, who said Mr. Adan was “a respectful, nice guy” who behaved normally last Thursday when giving him a ride home after they played basketball at a local gym.

The St. Cloud police, citing eyewitnesses, said within hours of Saturday’s attack that Mr. Adan had mentioned Allah during the episode and asked at least one victim if he was Muslim before assaulting him. On Sunday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack and referred to Mr. Adan, 20, as a “soldier” for their terrorist organization. The F.B.I. swiftly mobilized to investigate the case.

But since Monday, the authorities have released almost no new information about the case, frustrating some Somalis here, who are dubious of any link to the terrorist group, and are unsure why it is taking the authorities so long to release surveillance video and a more detailed narrative.

“Right now, anyone who knows him is really, really desperate for answers,” said Mubarak Ibrahim, a St. Cloud State University student who said he had known Mr. Adan since they attended junior high school together. Mr. Ibrahim said there was “nothing abnormal about” Mr. Adan, whom he saw playing basketball about two weeks ago.

“The longer they take with bringing out facts, that gives more people time to come up with their own stories,” Mr. Ibrahim said.

St. Cloud’s police chief, William Blair Anderson, said as recently as Tuesday that no evidence had been found tying Mr. Adan to terrorist groups, adding fuel to hushed discussions in St. Cloud’s Somali grocery stores and apartment buildings about whether this was a planned terrorist attack or something altogether different.

The F.B.I.’s Joint Terrorism Task Force took over the case on Tuesday afternoon, and on Wednesday a bureau spokesman said he had no new information to release. Also Wednesday, the St. Cloud police denied an open records request seeking security footage from the mall, incident reports and copies of search warrants, citing the continuing investigation.

“I personally am doubtful until I receive evidence of what happened,” said Hassan Yussuf, who runs a tax preparation business at the Mogadishu Grocery store here, and who recently ran for a spot on the local school board. Mr. Yussuf said Mr. Adan came from a well-respected Somali family whose patriarch was instrumental in establishing St. Cloud’s first Muslim cemetery.

“I think people need answers,” Mr. Yussuf said.

The Adan family has declined interview requests through its lawyer, Abdulwahid Osman, although family members released a statement this week extending sympathies to the victims and asking that people not rush to judgment.

Despite the uncertainty, a sense of normalcy has returned. The mall has reopened, all the victims have been released from the hospital and the cable news cameras that flooded the city over the weekend are gone.

Some Somali leaders who initially feared widespread retaliation said they have been heartened that the city’s mayor, police chief and Christian clergy members have urged respect and kindness for St. Cloud’s large Somali population. On Tuesday night, a diverse group of students at St. Cloud State, where Mr. Adan had previously been enrolled, held a rally and unity march on campus.

But the lack of clarity remains a sore point for Somalis here, and some are openly questioning whether Mr. Adan’s heritage prompted a rush to judgment.

Halima Aden, a freshman at St. Cloud State who was homecoming queen last year at the high school Mr. Adan attended, said, “As soon as they released the name, it was like ‘Terrorism, terrorism, terrorism’ ” in the comment sections on local news websites.

“Had his name been James Johnson,” she asked, “would the headline say ‘Terrorism?’ ”

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