Washington (AFP) – US homeland security chief Jeh Johnson warned shoppers in one of America’s biggest malls to be on their guard Sunday after a radical militant group posted a video calling for attacks on western malls.
The warning comes as the US and other nations are increasingly jittery about the threat of “lone wolf” attacks carried out by radicalided people in their home country.
“I would say that if anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
The Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgent group also threatened Canada’s massive West Edmonton Mall, London’s famous Oxford Street shopping hub and two malls in France: Le Forum des Halles and Les Quatre Temps.
A US administration official said, however, there was “no indication of a specific, credible threat to the US.”
But attacks in Paris, Copenhagen and Ottawa by homegrown extremists have set security officials on edge, and prompted Washington to sponsor a security summit earlier this week to discuss the threat.
Shebab carried out a bloody attack and takeover of a mall in Nairobi in September 2013 that killed at least 67 people.
In a video distributed on Twitter Saturday, the group ran a documentary-style account of the Kenya attack. It was followed by an appearance by a masked fighter who suggested similar attacks could be carried out on other malls in the United States, Canada, Britain and France.
“If just a handful of mujahideen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete stand-still for nearly a week, just imagine what the dedicated mujahideen could do in the West to American or Jewish shopping centres across the world,” the militant said.