Terrorism from within

Saturday night a young Somali-born man, identified by his family as Dahir A. Adan, started stabbing people in the Crossroads Mall in St. Cloud. Nine people were injured before an off-duty police officer shot and killed the attacker.

While law enforcement is still digging into the background of Adan and his motives for the attack, an Islamic State run news agency claimed Adan as “a soldier of the Islamic State.” Adan could be a so-called “lone wolf” attacker, someone inspired by Islamic State’s message but not directly controlled by IS.

This kind of attack feeds into the fears being whipped up by Donald Trump, who earlier Saturday was mournfully depicting a nation full of families with “empty chairs at the dinner table” because illegal immigrant criminals are being allowed to run free.

But in this case, the attacker is someone who came to America as a child of seven, and has lived here for 15 years. There are hundreds of thousands of young people like him, brought here to escape the terror and danger of their own homelands. Why this particular young man decided to turn to terrorism is an issue that needs to be investigated.

We cannot simply lump all Muslims, or all immigrants together and paint them as a suspicious mob to be isolated and discriminated against.

It is, however, a sad reality that there are others out there like Adan who feel the isolation, the suspicion and the threats of anti-muslim hatred and may be willing to take similar action. It is our challenge to be aware, to report suspicious activity and not give in to fear.

We are glad that the nine victims of the St. Cloud attack are all alive and likely to recover. We hope this attack will provide an opportunity for discussions and connections among the diverse groups that make up our American citizenry, and lead to better understanding and more peaceful relations.