The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota is not just a shopping stronghold for locals, it’s a popular destination for travelers around the country and around the world. But now it is also a target by the terror group, al-Shabaab.
According to CNN, the militant group released a video calling for attacks on the Mall of America, as well as malls in Canada and the UK. In the propaganda video, released Saturday, the al Qaeda-linked group talks about its September 2013 attack at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya. That attack dragged on for days and left more than 60 people dead.
In its new video, it calls for similar attacks on malls in the three Western countries. Mall of America officials announced they are aware of the video that lists it as a potential target.
“We take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately,” the Mall of America said in a statement over the weekend. “We have implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests and others won’t be.”
The West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, which was also listed, said it has implemented extra security and is working with federal and local law enforcement agencies.
The National Security Council said it’s working with various agencies, including the FBI and local law enforcement, to ensure maximum security.
“Protecting public safety and national security is our highest priority,” said Ned Price, a spokesman for the National Security Council.
On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, the secretary of Homeland Security warned shoppers at Minnesota’s iconic mall, along with similar venues, to be vigilant in the wake of new terrorist threats.
“I’m not telling people to not go to the mall,” said Secretary Jeh Johnson. “I think that there needs to be an awareness.”
He added that the public, at large, needs to be “particularly vigilant.”
The Somalia-based militants have recruited heavily in Minneapolis, where young men have been slipping away to join the terror group. The city is home to the largest Somali population in the United States.
Although al-Shabaab has also targeted youth in Canada, Finland and the UK for recruitment, its past attacks have been limited to East Africa. In addition to Kenya and Somalia, it has also struck in Uganda, where it killed more than 70 people gathered to watch a World Cup soccer match in Kampala five years ago. Kenya and Uganda have sent their forces to neighboring Somalia to battle the extremists.
As the attacks get more daring, the international community has rallied to fight the militants. Last year, the United States launched an airstrike in Somalia that killed the Al-Shabaab leader. The terror group later replaced him and vowed to avenge his death.