A video that suggested carrying out terrorist attacks on Western malls, including Minnesota's Mall of America, drew conflicting reactions from locals and the Department of Homeland Security Sunday. It was business as usual at the mall, but after Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson called for shoppers to be careful, the department issued a statement saying it knew of no credible threats.
"I'm not telling people to not go to the mall," Johnson told NBC's Meet The Press Sunday. "I'm saying that the public needs to be particularly vigilant." He said in an interview with CNN, "If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they've got to be particularly careful."
Homeland Security spokeswoman Marsha Catron said in a statement just hours later, "We are not aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center."
The public seemed to have broadly dismissed the threat of an attack implied in Johnson's warnings, at least in Minnesota. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the scene at the megamall Sunday was typically crowded with shoppers. Some visitors to the mall seemed "unfazed," the Star Tribune reported, with one even saying, "I'm more afraid of the cold today than any terrorists."
A video purportedly released by al-Shabab, a Somali militant group that has ties to al Qaeda, Saturday suggested the idea of attacks on the Mall of America in Minnesota, the West Edmonton Mall in Canada and Oxford Street in London. With more than 500 stores, the Mall of America is one of the biggest shopping malls in the world, and it is also the world's busiest, USA Today reported. The area surrounding the mall, which is in Bloomington, Minnesota, has the largest Somali population in the United States, the Star Tribune noted.
Despite the public's apparent lack of concern, Mall of America said it would treat any threat seriously and it had heightened security in the wake of the video's release. “We will continue to follow the situation along with federal, state and local law enforcement and will remain vigilant as we always do in similar situations,” it said, according to the Star Tribune.