The Mall of America has increased security measures amid a suspected terrorist threat. Officials with the Department of Homeland Security said the threat was outlined in a video, which was reportedly produced by the al-Shabaab militant group.
In 2013, al-Shabaab orchestrated an attack on a Kenya’s Westgate shopping mall. The brutal assault injured 175 and killed 67 — excluding the assailants.
In a joint statement, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said al-Shabaab operatives have called for “‘Westgate style’ attacks against shopping centers around the world, to include in the United States.”
— DJ (@DJ_tweets_MN) February 22, 2015
In addition to the Mall of America, the terrorist group specifically threatened Alberta, Canada’s West Edmonton Mall and Oxford Street shopping center in London. As reported by ABC News, both agencies have alerted state and local law enforcement agencies about the suspected threat. However, the warning has now been extended “to include mall owners and operators, to prevent and mitigate these types of threats.”
Sad that we have to worry about doing the everyday-b/c threats on homeland. Secy Johnson says be vigilant if headed to.@mallofamerica today
— Andrea Backman (@andreabackman1) February 22, 2015
A Mall of America official confirmed “extra security precautions” were implemented to ensure the safety of all employees and guests. As discussed on the shopping center’s website, the mall already hosts a Bloomington Police Department substation “to prevent retail crime and offer expanded services to Mall of America guests.”
Built in 1992, the Mall of America is the second-largest shopping mall in North America. In addition to more than 500 retailers, the massive building houses an amusement park, an aquarium, and several live entertainment venues.
The world-famous mall is owned and managed by the Ghermezian Family. The family also owns and manages Canada’s West Edmonton Mall, which remains the largest shopping mall in North America.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson confirmed the most recent threats were made in a video, which was published online. Johnson explains that video threats and online calls for attack are part of a disturbing new trend.
“Groups like ISIL, al-Shabaab, AQAP… are now publicly calling for attacks either through the internet, through videos, through publications, which means…We’re in a new phase now and I’m afraid that this most recent video release reflects that.”
As reported by CBS News, Johnson warned guests to be “particularly careful” while visiting the Mall of America. However, it is unclear whether al-Shabaab is capable of carrying out an attack on American soil.
[Image via Getty Images North America]