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A video purportedly released by the al-Qaida-linked militant group al-Shabab late Saturday urged Muslims to attack shopping malls in Western countries, specifically naming the Mall of America in Minnesota, the Associated Press reports.
The video mentioned several malls as potential targets, including the West Edmonton Mall in Canada and London’s Oxford Street, Reuters reports.
News agencies were not able to immediately verify the video’s authenticity, but it proved sufficiently credible to raise concerns for U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Speaking in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Johnson said shoppers planning to shop at the Mall of America should be “particularly careful.”
“There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it’s the environment we’re in, frankly,” he said.
Johnson said the call for attacks on Western malls by independent actors represented a “new phase” in global terrorism and that the U.S. had to take such threats seriously.
“I am very concerned about serious potential threats of independent actors here in the United States. We’ve seen this now in Europe, we’ve seen this in Canada,” he said.
Mall of America said in a statement that the mall was aware of the video and had implemented “extra security precautions.”
Mall of America is aware of a threatening video that was released which included a mention and images of the Mall. We take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately. We have implemented extra security precautions. Some may be noticeable to guests, and others won’t be. We will continue to follow the situation, along with the federal, state and local law enforcement and will remain vigilant as we always do in similar situations.
The Somalia-based militant group al-Shabab previously claimed responsibility for the 2013 assault on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, that left more than 60 people dead.
Elisabeth Ponsot (Beth) is the Digital News Editor at PBS NewsHour Weekend, where she oversees the program's online team.
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