BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Crowds of shoppers turned out at Mall of America Sunday, one day after a chilling video clip.
A terror group linked to al-Qaida, released this video yesterday.
“What if such an attack was to occur in the Mall of America,” the recording states.
The Somali terror group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a deadly mall attack in Kenya in 2013. In its new video, it mentions Mall of America as well as Canada’s West Edmonton mall and London’s Oxford Street as potential targets.
The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security released this warning Sunday.
“I would say if anyone is planning on going to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Jeh Johnson said.
Despite that warning, Mall of America was busy Sunday. Security didn’t appear outside the norm. Mall of America officials released a written statement saying they have help on the state and federal level and they intend to keep this Minnesota landmark secure.
About 40 million people pass through each year. Nearly half are visitors and despite the threat, Sunday was another crowded day.
Kaitlyn Joss a shopper from St. Cloud said, “I’m just like, If it happens, it happens.”
The mall’s security force of sporadic officers and an occasional dog seemed normal Sunday. But for some fear was in the air.
“Yeah, I am scared because I have kids. I have two little ones and I’m pregnant so coming here today I was kind of like ugh,” Brittany Seger of St. Cloud said.
The new video released was raw, a masked man with al-Shabaab asking for locals to help carry out their attacks on non-Muslims. It was shocking to some, but not to others like Omar Jamal, a local Somali activist.
“I was expecting they were going to do this. The question has always been, how’s this country going to react to that,” Jamal said.
Jamal said there are two reasons al-Shabaab could be targeting the Mall of America.
“You have the biggest mall here and chances are there might also be a lone wolf out there given the number of people here,” Jamal said.
And just days ago in Washington D.C. at a conference to fight terrorism, the FBI confirmed those individuals are in the Twin Cities.
“Al-Shabaab has specifically targeted Minnesota’s somali community for recruitment, encouraging our youth through videos and social media to either join the fight overseas or to conduct an attack in the United States,” Jamal said.
The Bloomington Police Department issued a statement Sunday in partnership with the FBI, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, Metro Transit Police and the Mall of America. The police department said at this time, there is no credible threat associated with the Mall of America.
The statement said they take all security concerns seriously and have responded appropriately. Enhanced security measures have been implemented and all information is being monitored. Officials said the Mall of America remains a very safe place and employs an extensive, well-trained professional security force that patrols and monitors activity with a 24-hour presence.