By Jacqueline Townsend
Islamic terrorist group announced its attack on shopping malls this past Saturday through a video.
Terrorist group Al-Shabaab released a video calling for attacks on shopping malls in America, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The video mentions the Mall of America in Minnesota, Oxford Street, a popular shopping area in London, and the West Edmonton Mall in Canada—the largest mall in North America.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says that Americans must be particularly careful when going to the malls this week.
This same terrorist group claimed responsibility for the 2013 attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, which killed more than 60 people.
According to SITE, a website that monitors communications from extremist organizations, in the video, a masked person wearing a headscarf and a camouflage jacket declares, “Westgate was just the beginning.”
The Mall of America responded to this threat by getting more security as a safety precaution. “We take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately,” the Minnesota mall security stated. “We have implemented extra security precautions; some may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t be.”
Johnson says that this video should not stop anyone from going to the mall. “If they see something suspicious, they should say something,” Johnson said.
This threat from Isis calls for a “new phase” in the war on terror in which terrorists call for domestic sympathizers to carry out attacks on their homelands. “The video that was released by Al Shabab reflects what I believe is the new phase we’ve evolved in terms of the global terrorist threat, and what we need to do in terms of counterterrorism,” Johnson said.
The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and Homeland Security issued a joint statement saying that local law enforcements and first aid responders have been told that they are not “aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center.”
The police department in Bloomington Minnesota also said that there was no credible threat against it because the mall is a “very safe place.”
“There will be enhanced security there,” Johnson said, “but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it’s the environment we’re in, frankly.”
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI believe the video was Al-Shabaab’s attempt to compete for attention and recruits with other terrorist groups.
Though Al-Shabaab might seek a desire to attack a mall in the United States, right now its strength is compromised, and it will not have the capabilities to do so, an official said.
Homeland Security believes that there is no actual working threat against any mall in the country and that people should not avoid going to the mall because of this online threat.