A video released on Saturday by the Somalian terror group al-Shabab shows members celebrating their horrific attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya that killed 67 innocent people back in 2013. In 2008, Al-Shabab was designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and has held close ties to al-Qaeda since 2012. The male narrator in the video who spoke with a British accent, and wore a black-and-white “kaffiyeh-type” scarf and a camouflaged jacket expressed his intention to provoke a similar attack in the U.K. and “western malls”. To be specific, the targeted shopping center in the U.S. is the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Minnesota holds the biggest Somali community. Many of whom were refugees taken in by the U.S. government and are now volunteering to work under al-Shabab.
The Mall of America is the busiest in the entire world with guests totaling over 40 million a year. It employs over 12,000 people and has over 500 stores and 50 restaurants. Security at the Mall of America has certainly been heightened which may or may not be visible to guests.
Jeh Johnson the Secretary of Homeland Security doesn’t want people to stop shopping but to become more aware and vigilant. The “See it, Say it” slogan is highly encouraged. An issued statement by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security said that U.S. officials are working closely with state and local authorities to “prevent and mitigate these types of threats.”
There is a different approach from previous years when extremists were recruited and trained in a different country, and then sent back to the U.S. to execute their mission. Now, many extremists are being recruited and given orders through the internet and social media.
“We’re in a new phase now…” Johnson said.
Not only have these threats invoked fear and put the national security at risk, but it could potentially affect the overall economy if there are less people shopping, less tourists to the state of Minnesota and more security employed. Politics and differences in beliefs and courses of action from terrorist groups can ultimately affect the apparel industry. Shopping centers are “soft-targets” as expressed by an anonymous developer, since they don’t screen people entering the premises and hold many possibilities for entries and exits.