The largest shopping center in the United States — the Mall of America — could be the next target of an attack by al-Shabaab, the Somali affiliate of Al Qaeda. The building has more than a dozen entrances and covers at least 80 acres of land.
Security personnel conducted a “lockdown drill” at 10 am local time and have planned a second one for later in the day. Other security measures – “seen and unseen” – have been put into place as well, officials said.
The moves came in response to a video call for jihad released by the group this past weekend.
The group used the video to recruit Western “Muslim brethren” to hit the Mall of America and shopping centers in Canada and the UK.
In 2013, 67 people died when the group staged a four-day siege at a shopping mall in Nairobi.
Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson told news media on Monday that shoppers are “being warned to remain extra vigilant while shopping.” Calls for jihad are being issued via the Internet, videos and through various publications, he pointed out.
Officials at the shopping center, considered the largest mall in the United States, said, “At this time there is no credible threat associated with the Mall of America. We will continue to work together at all levels to evaluate this and other information with the authorities.”
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters at a briefing also on Monday the intelligence community is “not aware” of any current plot to attack the Mall of America.
Minnesota is home to the largest Somali immigrant community in the United States. According to Fox News, at least 15 members of that community left last year to join Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization.