Mall of America Bolsters Security After Terrorist Threats
An Islamic militant group has threatened to attack shopping malls in the West.
MINNEAPOLIS – The Mall of America has implemented extra security measures after Somali-based Islamist militants Al Shabaab threatened to attack retail sites in the West.
Al Shabaab posted an online video on Feb. 21 that featured a documentary-style account of the 2013 Westgate Mall attack in Kenya’s capital Nairobi that killed at least 67 people. A masked militant then appeared and suggested similar attacks could be carried out in other shopping centers in the United States, Canada and Britain, ABC.net reports.
The threat specifically mentioned Mall of America, the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, London’s Oxford Street and sites in Paris.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson advised those visiting Mall of America to be careful, stating, “Anytime a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we’ve got to take that seriously.”
DHS and the FBI have shared the information about the video with local law enforcement and private sector partners. However, representatives for the department said that they were not aware of any specific plot against U.S. shopping malls.
Officials said that Al Shabaab as a group has not appeared to gain much traction with Somalis in the West, including in Minnesota, which is home to a sizeable Somali-American population, ABC.net reports.
Still, U.S. law-enforcement officials have voiced their concern about the potential for radicalization among some of the community.
Last week, a Minnesota man was indicted on charges of conspiring to support Islamic State and lying to federal agents investigating recruitment by militant groups.
Officials said numerous individuals from Minneapolis-St Paul area, many of whom are Somali-Americans, have travelled or attempted to travel overseas to support militant groups such as ISIS or Al Shabaab since 2007.
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