A video purported to have been issued by Somalia’s al Qaida supported rebel group namely al-Shabab urging Muslims to attack malls in western countries including Britain, Canada, and the U.S. is doing the rounds. The al Qaida affiliate’s threat enshrined in an hour long video made public on Saturday, also contained warnings to Kenya of more September 2013 Westgate Mall, Nairobi type attacks. Westgate Mall attacks had claimed 67 lives. The mask speaker in the video ended his speech by calling upon Muslims to attack shopping malls, and specifically mentioned the names of the Mall of America situated in Birmingham’s Minneapolis suburb, the Westfield Mall in Stratford, England, and West Edmonton Mall in Canada. The Associated Press could not immediately verify the veracity of the video.
Marsha Catron, DHS press secretary, in his statement said that all relevant information about the recent al-Shabab propaganda video were provided by the FBI and the department of Homeland Security to the concerned law enforcement agencies . He added that the authorities have not come across any credible and specific threat to the Mall of America, any such malls, or shopping centers. However, as per the Bloomington Police Department, security has been beefed up in and around the Mall of America, one of the biggest malls of the U.S. Jeh Johnson, Secretary to the Department of Homeland Security, speaking on morning talk shows, termed the video as heralding a new phase in the history of terrorism, and exhorted the public to be cautious and vigilant. Johnson, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union”, added that terrorist groups want independent actors, the general mass, to identify themselves with their cause so that people could be motivated to attack. The independent actors are real threats everywhere; in Canada, the U.S., and Europe, he further added. When asked about the threat perception on the Mall of America, Johnson replied that any threat by a terrorist outfit should be taken in the right spirit without panicking, but at the same time, should not be ignored either.