The head of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, has issued a warning regarding a terror threat. Johnson warned Americans to be vigilant at shopping malls in the wake of a threat by Somali Islamic militant group al-Shabab.
The group, which has ties to al-Qaida, issued a video terror threat to the popular Mall of America in Minnesota threatening to carry out a large-scale terror attack. The same group claimed credit for a 2013 terrorist attack that occurred in Nairobi, Kenya, at the Westgate shopping mall that left more than 60 people dead. Johnson appeared on five Sunday morning talk shows, including “Meet the Press” with a dire warning. “I’m not telling people to not go to the mall. I think that there needs to be an awareness. I’m saying that the public needs to be particularly vigilant.”
A warning was issued by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security today saying U.S. officials were aware of the call for Westgate style attacks against shopping malls in the U.S. and elsewhere. The threat is considered very real, and according to Johnson, “We’re in a new phase now, and I’m afraid that this most recent video release reflects that.”
Authorities have expressed surprise over the video threat because al-Shabab was considered to be a regional organization. By issuing a threat to the United States, Canada and Great Britain, it has propelled the group into the global arena. The video calls for “lone wolf” terror attacks by affiliates and sympathizers to the group’s cause.