Terror group Al-Shabaab released an online video calling for attacks on shopping malls in Canada, the UK and the United States.
Shoppers at the Mall of America need to be “particularly careful” after the terror group singled out the Minnesota super-mall for attacks, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says.
During an interview with CNN “State of the Union” host Gloria Borger, Johnson cautioned shoppers who plan to visit the mall to be extra cautious:
“If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Johnson said. “There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it’s the environment we’re in, frankly.”
Al-Shabaab has heavily targeted the Minneapolis area, which is home to the largest Somali population in the United States, for recruiting. The United States killed the group’s leader in an air strike in Somalia last year, leading Al-Shabaab to vow to avenge his death.
Johnson said Al-Shabaab and other groups like al Qaeda and ISIS compete for new recruits and target Western nationals.
“These groups are relying more and more on independent actors to become inspired, drawn to the cause … on their own, through their effective use of the Internet,” Johnson said. “That’s why it’s critical that we work in the communities where these folks might be able to recruit to develop a counter-narrative.”
Johnson also said the latest threats highlight the “reason why I need a budget.”
The Department of Homeland Security is just days away from seeing its funding expire, which Johnson said would trigger about 30,000 furloughs that includes 80% of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s workers.
“It’s absurd that we’re even having this conversation about Congress’s inability to fund Homeland Security in these challenging times,” Johnson said.
CNN reported that Congress is caught up in a fight over the department’s funding, as majority Republicans insist any bill to pay for its operations must also include provisions that roll back Obama’s executive actions on immigration but Democrats insist they won’t support such a measure.