The Somali militant group Al-Shabaab released a video Saturday night calling for attacks on on Western shopping malls, just hours after the extremists killed dozens of people at a luxury hotel in Somalia’s capital.
Al Shabaab posted a 77-minute video that attempts to justify their brutal assault on Kenya’s Westgate Mall that left more than 60 people dead in 2013. In the video, filled with passages of Islamic scripture, a narrator claims that Kenya’s government has oppressed Muslims and that it is time to fight back — both against Kenya and against the West.
“The mall is popular with expats, diplomats, and scores of other Westerners,” the narrator says as previously released footage of the three-day siege taken from security cameras is shown.
“This video by the Shabaab resembles older releases by the group, such as ‘Woolwich attack: It’s an eye for an eye’, wherein the group commented on jihadist Michael Adebolajo’s killing of British Solider Lee Rigby,” said SITE Director Rita Katz.
“The English-speaking narrator in this video sounds remarkably similar to the narrator from past Shabaab releases, including the ‘Eye for an Eye’ video, as well as another regarding the group’s June 2013 suicide attack on the U.N. Common Compound in Mogadishu.”
At the end of the video, a man in camouflage appears on the screen and speculates on the damage that could be done at several of the Western world’s largest shopping destinations.
“If just a handful of mujahideen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahideen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world,” the man says. “What if such an attack were to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota? Or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London’s Oxford Street?”
Then the speaker challenges a “man with firm determination” to carry out such a scheme.
“What would be the implications of such an attack? One could only imagine,” the speaker muses. “And all it takes is a man with firm determination.”
The US homeland security chief responded Sunday that he took the threat seriously, and said the video was a dangerous incitement to extremists already in the US.
“This latest statement reflects the new phase we’ve evolved into in the global terrorist threat, in that you have groups such as al Shabaab and ISIL publicly calling for independent actors in their homelands to carry out attacks,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told CNN.
He also warned shoppers in Minnesota to stay vigilant. “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.
Edmonton police say there is “no imminent threat” to the city.
“This was a very general comment … it wasn’t a specific threat,” said Brian Simpson, deputy chief of the Edmonton Police Service. “However, we as a policing agency … absolutely paying attention to this.”
Simpson said despite the lack of a specific threat, Edmonton police have reviewed its procedures when it came to safety in all of the city’s malls. He said the services is working closely with RCMP and West Edmonton Mall security.
He said police have a “very good working relationship” with the mall, and that he is confident in the building’s security.
“I would dare say they have one of the best systems that I’ve seen,” he said.
West Edmonton Mall and the Mall of America are owned by Canada’s Ghermezian family, who are of Iranian-Jewish origins. Both malls have issued statements saying they were implementing additional security measures.