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Ex-CIA agent: How the St. Cloud stabbing inquiry might unfold

ST. PAUL -- After a man stabbed 10 people at a St. Cloud mall on Saturday, law enforcement officials needed to quickly determine whether the attacker acted alone, a former CIA agent said Monday, Sept. 19.

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Police say attacker referenced Allah and asked at least one person if they were Muslim. (St. Cloud Times photo)

ST. PAUL - After a man stabbed 10 people at a St. Cloud mall on Saturday, law enforcement officials needed to quickly determine whether the attacker acted alone, a former CIA agent said Monday, Sept. 19.

Jack Rice, a St. Paul attorney and former Central Intelligence Agency officer who worked in the Middle East and Africa, offered this explanation of what likely happened behind the scenes for the officials charged with investigating the attack:

RELATED: No link found between St. Cloud stabbing suspect and terrorist group

The stabbing was stopped by an off-duty police officer who fatally shot the suspect. Then, law enforcement had to rapidly make "a determination about whether there are any co-conspirators to see if this is something bigger," Rice said.

"That's the most important thing because, if there are any potential attacks that are out there, they need to be able to knock those out quickly," he said.

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Rice said law enforcement tries to complete that work within the first couple of hours, if possible. "The longer it takes, the less likely that law enforcement will have success in stopping an attack," according to Rice.

Police said Monday that the attack appeared to be the work of a single individual, the St. Cloud Times reported. There was no sign that the attacker, identified by his father as 20-year-old Dahir Adan, was radicalized or communicated with any terrorist group.

Authorities were digging into Adan's background and possible motives, looking at social media accounts and electronic devices and talking to people he knew, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Rice said investigators will typically see what websites a suspect visited and whom he communicated with via social media.

If there was not a direct connection between Adan and any terrorist group, law enforcement will work to determine whether he could have been inspired by such a group, Rice said.

"There are people who've had no connection at all to these organizations but have just seen them from afar and what they're doing, and they're inspired to go out and act," Rice said. "The problem with this group is that there's no way to reverse-engineer it and figure out what they're going to do until they actually go out and act. That's the scary issue that the intelligence community is really trying to face right now."

News services reported that an Islamic State-run news agency claimed Adan was a "soldier of the Islamic State" who had heeded the group's calls for attacks in countries that are part of a U.S.-led anti-IS coalition.

"IS has been shockingly successful at motivating people to act on their behalf," Rice said. "The question now, though, is are they saying this just to sort of bolster their own image, or in fact is it actually true? At this point we don't really know and that's the reason the (FBI) needs to dig in to make that determination."

Related Topics: ST. CLOUDCRIME
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