Tags: War on Terrorism | terror | threat | shopping | malls | not | credible

State Department Downplays Shopping Mall Terror Threat

By    |   Thursday, 26 Feb 2015 09:55 PM

A recent threat to attack Western shopping malls by the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab is not credible, according to an internal State Department security report.

The assertion, reported in The Washington Times, is likely to fuel additional skepticism about the Obama administration's leadership in the fight against Islamist terror groups – a religious categorization which the administration rejects.

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The conclusion by State's Overseas Security Advisory Council contrasts sharply with the thrust of comments made Sunday by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in television interviews.

Johnson said he takes seriously threats made by al-Shabaab to attack the Mall of America in Minnesota and other shopping malls in North America and Europe and urged people to be careful.

Johnson was responding to a threat issued through Twitter that the group would stage shooting attacks at seven "American or Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world."

In addition to the Mall of America, al-Shabaab threatened to attack malls in Canada, Britain, and France.

The attacks would be similar to the September 2013 terrorist siege at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya in which 10 to 15 terrorists killed close to 70 people.

The al-Shabaab threat reflects a "new phase" in the global terror war in which groups are "publicly calling for independent actors in their homelands to carry out attacks," Johnson told CNN.

"We're beyond the phase now where these groups would send foreign operatives into countries after being trained some place," Johnson said.

"Anytime a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we've got to take that seriously," Johnson said when asked about the Mall of America.

"I would say that if anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they've got to be particularly careful," he added.

But the internal State Department report suggests that the danger is being exaggerated.

It says the mall threats appeared to be attempts by the terror group to take back the spotlight from the Islamic State (ISIS).

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"When it comes to influence abroad, al-Shabab's success has been limited to the recruitment of foreign fighters from countries in the West; however, the group has never conducted an attack outside of East Africa, leaving the likelihood of a successful al-Shabab attack outside of the region questionable at best," the report said.

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A recent threat to attack Western shopping malls by the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab is not credible, according to an internal State Department security report.
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