Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson appeared on Meet The Press, calling on all Americans at Mall of America and other venues to be vigilant in the wake of a recent terrorist video naming Mall of America a target as well as Edmonton and London. Mall of America reported that they have beefed up their security after the video by Somali militants with ties to al-Qaeda threatened a terror attack on the busiest shopping mall in the United States. The group, al-Shabaab, previously took responsibility for the 2013 attack at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that left more than 60 people dead.
The National Security Council reported that both Homeland Security as well as the FBI have been working with malls across the nation to prevent such attacks. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police also acknowledged the terror threat aimed at their West Edmonton Mall in Alberta. However, they are not aware of any specific or imminent threat to Canadians in the video. Canadian police have heightened security in the area and will continue to remain vigilant.
The U.S. Bureau of Counterterrorism named Al Shabab a terrorist organization in 2008; the Somalia based terrorist group pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in 2012. The group carried out an attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi killing 67 and injuring 200. Al Shabab said at the time that it sent militants with AK-47s and grenades into the Nairobi mall in “retribution” for Kenya’s efforts to help the Somali government defeat the extremist group.
The video calls for attacks across the world, not just in America. “If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, 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 was to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota? Or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London’s Oxford Street?” the man says, encouraging supporters to “hurry up, hasten towards heaven and do not hesitate.”
Mall of America staff issued a statement saying they take any potential threat seriously. “Mall of America has implemented extra security precautions. Some may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t be,” the statement said, adding, “The safety and security of our guests, employees and tenants remains our top priority.” Secretary Johnson on Meet The Press “I’m not telling people to not go to the mall,” “I think that there needs to be an awareness.” Johnson also appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” cautioning those who plan to visit the mall. “If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Johnson said. “There will be enhanced security there, 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 is just days away from seeing its funding expire, which Johnson said would trigger about 30,000 furloughs — including 80% the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s workers.