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LONDON — Terrorist group al Shabab released a video Saturday calling for attacks on shopping malls in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The video, released by the Somalia-based group's official media wing, calls for attacks in the style of al Shabab's 2013 siege on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, in which more than 60 people were killed.
Minnesota's Mall of America, which was referenced in the video, said it was aware of the threat. "We will continue to follow the situation, along with law enforcement, and will remain vigilant as we always do in similar situations," it said in a statement. The mall, which is America’s largest, has implemented additional covert and visible security measures, the statement added.
The FBI and Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that both agencies have been working in recent months with "members of the private sector," including mall operators, to prevent and mitigate such attacks. "As a general matter, however, we are not aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center," DHS press secretary, Marsha Catron, added.
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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they were aware that al Shabab threatened the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta in the video, but “there is no evidence of any specific or imminent threat to Canadians in this video.” Edmonton Police Service Deputy Chief Brian Simpson said during a news conference Sunday that Canadians should go about their “normal day-to-day business” to avoid giving the terrorists “more power than they deserve.” But he encouraged citizens to communicate with police if they see anything that seems “suspicious” or believe someone is showing signs of radicalization. The West Edmonton Mall said in a statement that they have also heightened security measures and “will remain vigilant.”
London’s Metropolitan police said they were “assessing the content” of the video.
Al Shabab was named a terrorist organization by the U.S. Bureau of Counterterrorism in 2008, and the Somalia-based group pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in 2012. In September 2013, the group carried out a days-long attack on the luxury Westgate Mall, which left at least 67 people dead and about 200 injured.
Al Shabab said at the time that it sent militants with AK-47s and grenades into the Nairobi mall in “retribution” for Kenya’s efforts to help the Somali government defeat the extremist group.
During a conference Thursday on countering violent extremism, President Barack Obama announced a new digital communications hub that would allow the U.S. work with the United Arab Emirates to combat “terrorist propaganda” spread by groups like ISIS, Boko Haram and al Shabab.
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