Many questions remain about motive of Minnesota attacker

MN: Stabbing Suspect Dahir A. Adan, 22
Dahir A. Adan, 22 ,  has been identified as the man who allegedly stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall Saturday, September 17, 2016 before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer, according to two Somali community leaders in Minnesota who are in direct contact with the suspect's family.

MN: Stabbing Suspect Dahir A. Adan, 22 Dahir A. Adan, 22 , has been identified as the man who allegedly stabbed nine people at a Minnesota mall Saturday, September 17, 2016 before being shot dead by an off-duty police officer, according to two Somali community leaders in Minnesota who are in direct contact with the suspect's family.

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) — He was a recent college student and had worked part time. He was said to be a high school honors student. He had nothing more than a minor traffic citation on his record.

But on Saturday, for reasons still unclear, authorities say Dahir Ahmed Adan went to a central Minnesota mall and cut or stabbed 10 people before he was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer.

Little new information was released Monday about the 20-year-old Adan. But authorities are investigating the attacks as a potential act of terrorism.

A Somali community advocate who spoke with Adan’s parents said he was going to the mall to pick up an iPhone.

Those who know Adan say he was a calm, cool guy, and they are trying to figure out what pushed him to violence.

While a motive for Saturday night’s attack isn’t clear and it isn’t clear whether the attacker was radicalized, authorities in Minnesota have struggled for years to stem recruiting of young Somali men by the Islamic State and east Africa-based militant group al-Shabab.

In the past decade, Minnesota has struggled with terrorist groups luring some of its young Somali men overseas. The problem first surfaced in 2007, when more than 20 young men went to Somalia, where Ethiopian troops propping up a weak U.N.-backed government were seen by many as foreign invaders. Al-Shabab, classified as a terror group by the U.S. government, wooed young Americans with jihadist videos that appealed to patriotic and religious ideals.

In more recent years, the Islamic State has also found recruits in Minnesota, with authorities saying roughly a dozen have left to join militants in Syria. Nine Minnesota men face sentencing this fall on terror charges for plotting to join the Islamic State group.

If Saturday’s stabbings are ultimately deemed a terrorist act, it would be the first carried out by a Somali on U.S. soil, said Karen Greenburg, director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law.