Al-Shabaab has released a graphic video calling for ‘Westgate-style’ attacks on shopping centers including the Mall of America – prompting officials to drastically tighten security at the iconic site.
In the video, apparently released by the Somalia-based terror group’s media wing, a masked militant also encourages radicalized Muslims to assault malls in Canada and Oxford Street in London.
Donning a camouflage jacket with a headscarf covering his face, the fighter threatens action and refers to the group’s 2013 siege on Kenya’s Westgate Mall, in which more than 60 people died.
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is specifically targeted. Chillingly, an image of the center is shown in the corner of the frame, while its GPS co-ordinates are displayed in a white font.
Speaking directly to the camera, the unnamed militant says: ‘If just a handful of mujahideen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete stand-still for nearly a week, just imagine what the dedicated mujahideen could do in the West to American or Jewish shopping centers across the world.’
He adds: ‘What if such an attack were to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota? Or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London’s Oxford Street?’.
Now, the Mall of America is taking ‘extra security precautions’ in light of the threat. Officials are reportedly working closely with the FBI and America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Some of the new security measures will be visible to shoppers, while others will not, a security official told CBS News, adding that employees ‘will remain diligent as they would do in any similar situation.’
Speaking to Fox News, Jim Kallstrom, the former assistant director of the FBI’s New York office, said the bureau has a ‘huge job’ in front of them in the wake of the threatening online video.