Somalia extremists urge attacks on US shopping malls

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video at top: Al-Shabaab - Somalia terror group (used in article #21145377)
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Somalia extremists urge attacks on US shopping malls
A newly released video from terror group Al-Shabab calls for attacks on Western malls. The same group attack a mall in Kenya in 2013.
Al Shabaab Flag
American born Islamist militant fighter Omar Hamammi known as Abu Mansur Al-Amriki, right, and deputy leader of al shabab Sheik Mukhtar Abu Mansur Robow, left, sit under a banner which reads 'Allah is Great' as they speak at press conference at a farm in southern Mogadishu's Afgoye district Wednesday May 11, 2011, Amriki and four other foreign fighters in Somalia spoke at the gathering and vowed to avenge the death of the al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden who was killed during a raid by the US commandos in Pakistan. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
American born Islamist militant fighter Omar Hamammi, known as Abu Mansur Al-Amriki, adresses a press conference at a farm in southern Mogadishu's Afgoye district Wednesday May 11, 2011, Amriki and four other foreign fighters in Somalia spoke at the gathering and vowed to avenge the death of the Al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden who was killed during a raid by the US commandos in Pakistan. In March 2010, Somalian government sources reported that Hammami had been killed during fighting in Mogadishu. Hammami subsequently released a hip hop song, mocking the claims of his death and taunting the United States to send Predator drones and missiles to in order to make him a martyr. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Al-Shabaab insurgents, seen, in a vehicle, which they claim was defected from the Somali government side, in Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday, Dec. 27, 2008. Somali Islamist group of Ahlusunna seized Guriel town in central Somalia after a brief battle with Al-shabaab fighters on Saturday, residents said. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
An Islamist fighter from Al-Shabaab Mujaahidin beats a youth, Monday, March 9, 2009, after he was found guilty of gang rape in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Judge Abdul Haq designated four men to deliver the punishment immediately in front of a crowd of around 100 onlookers. Four youths were publicly whipped in the Somali capital on Monday after an Islamic court found them guilty of gang rape, potentially bolstering the reputation of the Islamic insurgency to deliver some form of justice in the chaotic, war-ravaged nation.(AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)
Al-Shabaab insurgents seen with arms, in Mogadishu, Somalia, Saturday Dec. 27, 2008. Clashes between two rival Islamist militias in a central Somali town have killed at least ten people, witnesses said Saturday, as speculation continued over whether the president of Somalia's ineffectual U.N.-backed government would resign. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
Shell cases lay strewn over the ground as an Al Shabaab fighter takes his position on a street in the north of Mogadishu Monday, July, 13, 2009. Islamic insurgents have retreated from areas around Somalia's presidential palace after a day of fighting that killed dozens of people and wounded about 150, witnesses said Monday. Sunday's fighting marked the first time African Union peacekeepers directly intervened to support government forces,Somali military spokesman Farhan Asanyo said the government made a strategic retreat. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)
Armed Al-Shabaab fighters patrol Bakara Market in Mogadishu, Somalia, Monday, June 29, 2009. Somali radical Islamic insurgent says weapons and ammunition the United States recently supplied to Somalia's embattled government will only increase violence in the war-wracked country. Sheik Hassan Ya'qub, a spokesman for the militant group al-Shabab in the port town of Kismayo, was responding to an announcement by U.S. officials last week that the Obama administration had supplied arms and provided military training worth just under $10 million to the shaky official government. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)
Somali government forces stand next to their battle wagon during fighting between the Somali government forces and the al-Shabaab fighters Sunday, July 12, 2009 in Mogadishu, Somalia. African Union peacekeepers in the Somali capital have directly intervened for the first time to support government forces fighting Islamist insurgents, a spokesman said. A witness reported at least eight people were killed on the second day of fighting. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sheikh Nor)
Al-Shabaab fighters stand guard during a news conference held by their spokesman in Somalia's capital Mogadishu Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009. Fighting between government soldiers and Islamic insurgents killed at least 15 people in central Somalia on Thursday as the warring sides tried to gain ground in strategic towns. (AP Photo / Mohamed Sheikh Nor)
In this image made from video released Sunday, Sept. 20, 2009 by the Islamic insurgent group al-Shabab, militia members participate in a training camp in Somalia. The tape was released late Sunday by al-Shabab, an insurgent group that last week hit the African Union peacekeeping base in Somalia with suicide car bombs, killing 21 people in the deadliest single attack on peacekeepers since they arrived in 2007. (AP Photo/al-Shabab) THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS HANDOUT IMAGE FROM VIDEO RELEASED BY AL-SHABAB

JOHANNESBURG (AP) - A video purported to be by Somalia's al-Qaida-linked rebel group al-Shabab urged Muslims to attack shopping malls in the U.S., Canada, Britain and other Western countries.

U.S. authorities said there was "no credible" evidence suggesting a U.S. mall attack was in the works.

The threat by the al-Qaida affiliate came in the final minutes of a more than hourlong video released Saturday in which the extremists also warned Kenya of more attacks like the September 2013 assault on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi in which 67 people were killed.

The masked narrator concluded by calling on Muslims to attack shopping malls, specifically naming the Mall of America in the Minneapolis suburb of Bloomington, as well as the West Edmonton Mall in Canada and the Westfield mall in Stratford, England. The authenticity of the video could not be immediately verified by The Associated Press.

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security provided local law enforcement agencies and private sector partners with "relevant information regarding the recent al-Shabab propaganda video," DHS press secretary Marsha Catron said in a statement.

"However, we are not aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center," Catron said.

The Bloomington Police Department said additional security measures had been put in place at the Mall of America, one of the largest malls in the nation.

Speaking earlier on morning talk shows in the U.S., Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called the video "the new phase" of the global terrorist threat and warned the public to be vigilant.

"These groups are relying more and more on independent actors to become inspired, drawn to the cause and they'll attack on their own," Johnson said, speaking on CNN's "State of the Union."

"I am very concerned about serious potential threats of independent actors here in the United States. We've seen this now in Europe, we've seen this in Canada."

Asked about the specific threat against the Mall of America, Johnson said: "Any time a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place we've got to take that seriously. What we're telling the public is you've got to be vigilant. ... There will be enhanced security there that will be apparent, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important."

American malls - generic - United States (used in article #21145377)
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Somalia extremists urge attacks on US shopping malls
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'A Shopping Haven', United States, Minnesota, Minneapolis, Mall of America
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Nordstrom / Mall of America
Broken, defective guitars ready to be smashed to commemorate the Grand Opening of Hard Rock Cafe Mall of America on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, in Bloomington, Minn. (Photo by Craig Lassig/Invision for Hard Rock International/AP Images)
Mall of America 1/18
Food Court in the Mall of America, Bloomington, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Sea Life Aquarium in the Mall of America, Bloomington, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Indoor Ferris Wheel. Mall of America MOA largest indoor retail and entertainment complex Bloomington Minnesota MN USA
Old Navy @ Mall of America
#blacklivesmatter protest at #moa mall of america
Mall of America 17/18
3rd Floor, West Side at Mall of America
elvis at the mall of america
Mall of America
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12-hour dance-a-thon at the mall of america

In the slickly produced video posted online, a masked man, his face wrapped in a black-and-white kaffiyeh-type scarf and wearing a camouflage jacket, declared: "Westgate was just the beginning." The video included footage from major news organizations showing the assault on the mall and said it was in reprisal for alleged abuses by Kenyan troops against Muslims in Somalia.

"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?" said the man, who spoke with a British accent and appeared to be of Somali origin.

The Mall of America said in a statement that it was "aware of a threatening video which includes a mention and images of the mall," and said extra security had been put in place.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton was monitoring the situation and has been in regular contact with the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety which is coordinating with federal and local law enforcement agencies and the Mall of America "to assure the safety of all Minnesotans," said a statement released by the governor's press secretary Matt Swenson.

Shoppers seemed undeterred Sunday by the threat.

"I'm more afraid of the cold today than any terrorists," said Mary Lamminen, of St. Paul.

David Modrynski said he talked with his wife and son about whether to visit the mall after hearing about the video. "But we can't stop living our lives because somebody says they're going to do something," Modrynski said.

While al-Shabab has carried out attacks in neighboring Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti, which all have troops fighting the extremists as part of the multinational African Union force, the al-Qaida affiliate has never operated outside East Africa and the Horn of Africa.

Minnesota, home to the largest Somali population in the U.S., has been the target of terror recruiters in the past. Since 2007, more than 22 young Somali men from Minnesota have traveled to Somalia to join al-Shabab, and a handful of Minnesota residents have also traveled to Syria to fight with militant groups within the last year, authorities say. At least one Minnesotan has died while fighting for the Islamic State group.

On Thursday, a 19-year-old Minneapolis man who was stopped at a New York City airport in November as he and three others were allegedly attempting to travel to Syria was indicted on charges associated with supporting the Islamic State group.

Last week U.S. Attorney Andy Luger led a Minnesota delegation, including law enforcement officials and Somali community leaders, to a White House summit on countering extremism and radicalization. In his remarks, Vice President Joe Biden held up Minneapolis, Boston and Los Angeles as examples of communities moving ahead with programs to counter extremism locally.

In Kenya, the government dismissed the al-Shabab video.

"They're using propaganda to legitimize what cannot be legitimized. When you lead a group to go and attack a shopping mall and kill innocent shoppers that cannot be legitimized, those were not soldiers," Interior Ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said.

"Muslims also died in the Westgate attack. It's in our interest to ensure Somalia is stabilized because the instability affects us. The video is cheap propaganda trying to re-write history and to get more support from those support them."

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