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FBI: Minnesota mall attacker newly interested in Islam

ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The man who stabbed 10 people at a Minnesota mall had become interested in Islam in the last several months, withdrew from his friends, and encouraged female relatives to be more religious, the FBI said Thursday.

‘‘We were told [he] had not previously shown an interest in religion,’’ FBI Special Agent Rick Thornton said at a news conference.

He also said 20-year-old Dahir Ahmed Adan went from being a high academic performer to failing out of college ‘‘almost overnight’’ after taking an increased interest in Islam.

But the attorney for Adan’s family, Abdulwahid Osman, said his parents and close family members did not see the behavioral changes that investigators described. ‘‘They believed he was doing as good as he used to do,’’ Osman said. ‘‘That is not the son they knew.’’

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Witnesses told the FBI that Adan, who was armed with two steak knives and was later shot and killed, referenced Islam during the Sept. 17 attack at Crossroads Center mall.

Aside from Adan’s supposed increased interest in the religion, Thornton offered no other evidence of any links to extremist groups, including the Islamic State group.

FBI Director James Comey said last week that it appeared Adan, who was Somali, was at least partly inspired by extremist ideology.

Associated Press