Going to the mall could be getting more dangerous as an Islamic terror group tied to al-Qaida is appearing to threaten attacks on the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, as well as other popular shopping centers in Canada and Britain.
An hour-long video purportedly released by Somali Islamic militants al-Shabaab specifically names the Mall of America, the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta and London’s Oxford Street.
A masked man is seen in the video mentioning the Mall of America, along with a photograph of the shopping center and its GPS coordinates.
Officials at the Minnesota location are now beefing up security.
“Mall of America is aware of a video that was recently released which included a mention and images of the mall,” said a statement issued by the mall Saturday. “We will continue to monitor events with the help of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
“As always, we take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately. Mall of America has implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t be. We will continue to follow the situation, along with law enforcement, and will remain vigilant as we always do in similar situations. The safety and security of our guests, employees and tenants remains our top priority.”
Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
In 2013, al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for an attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
The four-day siege there resulted in more than 60 deaths.
The new video posted on Twitter Saturday shows six minutes of graphic images celebrating the Westgate Mall attack.
The masked man wearing a camouflage jacket in the video asks: “If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week then imagine what a dedicated mujahedeen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world?”
“What if such an attack were to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota? Or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London’s Oxford Street? … What would be the implications of such an attack? One could only imagine. And all it takes is a man with firm determination … so hurry up, hasten towards heaven and do not hesitate.”
Two days ago, al-Shabaab claimed it was responsible for suicide attacks at a hotel in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu, killing 25 and wounding 40 others.
According to KMSP-TV in Minneapolis, local Somali leaders have been worried about the recruitment of their youth for some time.
“In recent years, more than two dozen men have left to fight with al-Shabaab in Somalia. And in recent months, multiple Minnesota teens have been arrested for alleged connections with terror groups like ISIS,” the Fox affiliate reported.
“This is gonna happen,” Omar Jamal, CEO of American Friends of Somalis, told KMSP. “The question is where it’s going to happen and when it is going to happen. That’s why we need people to be informed about this.”
Watch KMSP-TV’s coverage of the threat:
Jim Kallstrom, the former assistant director of the FBI’s New York office, said the FBI has a “huge job in front of them.
“You look at the Mall of America, you look at all the malls then you start to backtrack and say you know it would be nice if we knew what comes and goes into the country,” Kallstrom told Fox News on Sunday. “We don’t have a clue.”
The Department of Homeland Security and FBI issued a joint statement Sunday indicating both agencies were aware of the video.
“In recent months, the FBI and DHS have worked closely with our state and local public safety counterparts and members of the private sector, to include mall owners and operators, to prevent and mitigate these types of threats,” the statement read.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that “there needs to be an awareness.”
“We’re in a new phase now, and I’m afraid that this most recent video release reflects that,” Johnson said during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
Terrorists threaten famous American mall
Sun, 22 Feb 2015 19:00:25 GMT