MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An expert on Somalian culture says the al-Shabaab video naming the Mall of America as a target is simply a recruiting pitch by terror group that needs new members.
Former Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher told WCCO’s Dave Lee on the Morning News that al-Shabaab’s numbers have dropped from about 20,000 to 7,000 and they’re looking for recruits.
“al-Shabaab hasn’t been able to have much attention on the world stage,” Fletcher said. “They’re really looking to grab some attention. I really see this as desperate attempt.”
Fletcher is now director of the Center for Somalia History Studies in Saint Paul. He says with ISIS growing dramatically in Syria and Iraq, al-Shabaab is not in the forefront among terrorist groups and their leaders want to change that.
“I’ve watched hundreds of al-Shabaab videos,” Fletcher said. “This is the first time that they’ve really said, ‘hey, those of you in the west, you have to help us do something, attack these malls,’ essentially.”
Fletcher said the Mall of America will always be some type of target and that the Al-Shabaab video does not represent a credible threat. He said he’d shop at the mall with no worries.
“Absolutely, I would,” he said. “They have the finest private security, probably in the world. I would suspect that just because of the high-level of security, if someone wants to attack a mall, it won’t be Mall of America.”