In early February the Mall of America received a bomb threat from the terrorist group Al-Shabab. Officials claimed that there was “No credible threat,” and urged the public to stay calm maintain business as usual; encouraging the public to exercise a normal amount of caution when shopping. The Department of Homeland Security has stated that the threat should not cause people to worry, but recommends that shoppers be careful.
Officials believe that lone wolf terrorists, like those encouraged by Al-Shabab, are much more likely commit single acts of terror, like the recent shooting of a soldier in Canada. However, they believe that the threat was mostly ceremonial, and that there should be no worry of serious violence. Although remaining calm, mall security took the threat very seriously; increasing in the amount of security in order to prevent just such an attack.
Al-Shabab is an African-based group that is very similar to ISIS in their methods of recruiting. The terrorist organization’s call for lone-wolf terrorism actions is a way for the group to expand the number of people working for their cause. Such calls to arms also help the group to reach those are not directly attached to the group; this includes people who might be on another continent, but still share the same ideals as Al-Shabab.
The threatening video that was released was not purely urging an attack on the Mall Of America, but on all of the malls in the U.S. Knowing that, several other major malls in the U.S. have amped up their security measures. This has the added benefit of scaring off many potential attackers.
If this attack were to be carried out, it would be the second major mall-bombing that Al-Shabab has carried out. The group successfully attacked a mall in Kenya, killing approximately 70 people and injuring many more. Al-Shabab is very closely connected with Al-Qaeda. The trend of sending out threats of attack through the internet, videos and publications has become more and more common over time.
By Xan-Daven Thomas