THE man who stabbed nine people at a mall in the United States before being shot dead is now being claimed as a "soldier of the Islamic State", although such links are yet to be confirmed.

The group, also known as Daesh, has a long history of claiming responsibility for attacks or incidents that appear to actually be the work of individuals.

The attacker has been identified as being of Somali descent, prompting the Muslim and Somali communities in St Cloud, Minnesota - where the attack occurred - to express grief and call for unity.

"We still don't have anything substantive that would suggest anything more than what we know already, which is this was a lone attacker," he told reporters.

"And right now, we're trying to get to the bottom of his motivations."

The FBI meanwhile has dubbed the attack a "potential act of terrorism".

The head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in the state said he was "concerned about the potential backlash"

"We understand in St. Cloud there is more anti-Muslim organising and we hope they do not use this incident to divide ... our community," he said, according to CNN reports.

St Cloud police chief William Blair Anderson said there was no evidence to suggest the attack was not working alone.

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