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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Al-Shabaab Names Mall of America, West Edmonton Mall as Possible Targets for Attack

The al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab appears to call on followers to attack shopping malls in the United States, U.K., France, and Canada and has released a video naming West Edmonton Mall as a possible target.

Most of the recording posted to YouTube on Saturday glorifies the attack by the Somalia-based group on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, where gunmen killed about 60 people in September 2013.

Close to the end of the nearly 77-minute video, a masked man with an English accent calls on "Muslim brothers to target the disbelievers wherever they are" and lists a number of shopping centres that could be attacked in the West.

"If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahedeen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centres across the world," the man says.

"What if such an attack was to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota, or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, or in London's Oxford Street, or any of the hundred or so Jewish-owned Westfield shopping centres dotted right across the western world?" he continues.

Other malls listed in the video include two in Paris, Les Quatre Temps and Forum des Halles.

CNN reports that al-Shabaab militants have recruited members in Minneapolis, home to the largest Somali population in the United States and the Mall of America.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told CNN the statement from al-Shabaab "reflects a new phase we've evolved to in the global terrorist threat."

Mall of America
Asked about the threat to Mall of America, one of the world's largest shopping complexes, Johnson said: "Anytime a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we've got to take that seriously." He advised people going to the Mall of America to be particularly careful.

On March 7, 2010, the Canadian government added al-Shabaab to the country's terrorist list, following claims that the organization is targeting Canadian youth for recruitment.

Edmonton mall tightens security

Alberta RCMP Staff Sgt. Brent Meyer said the force is aware of the report of a possible threat and is investigating.

"While the exact content and authenticity of such a reported video is being actively pursued by the RCMP in Alberta with our local policing partners, as well as the  RCMP nationally and our international national security partners, there is no evidence at this time of any specific or imminent threat to Canadians," Meyer said in a statement Sunday.

The West Edmonton Mall also issued a statement Sunday, saying it will "continue to monitor events" with the help of law enforcement agencies.

"West Edmonton Mall has implemented extra security precautions; some may be noticeable to guests, and others won't be," the statement said.

West Edmonton Mall
Specializing in mall attacks?

Christian Leuprecht, a security expert in Kingston, Ont., at the Royal Military College of Canada and Queen's University, says it's conceivable that shopping centres in North America could be targets because specific malls were named in the video.

"And we know that the three largest concentrations of Somali communities in Canada are in Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto," he said. "We also know that we have some Somali youth who appear to have disappeared from Edmonton and joined up with al-Shabaab."

Leuprecht said by naming malls, al-Shabaab appears to be trying to expand its reach as it carves out a niche among extremist groups.

"They're in competition with ISIS and with al-Qaeda for air time," he told CBC News. "And I think the primary purpose here is for them to get air time in the media, to show that they, too, are a group that requires attention by the West and that they, too, need to be taken seriously, as to their particular demands."

Like a spoiled or neglected child looking for attention, al-Shabaab raises the bar by calling for attacks on western shopping malls. What an insane world when a group calls for massacres around the world just for attention.