Following threats from Islamist militants in Somalia against the Mall of America, and the chief of the Department of Homeland Security’s warning that visitors to the mall should be “particularly vigilant,” the department later admitted that it was not aware of any credible plot from the militants.
On Sunday, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson appeared on Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. Johnson said that the American public needed to be “particularly vigilant” in response to the militant’s threats.
“We’re in a new phase in global terrorist threat right now which involves core al-Qaeda, but now other groups, the ISIL group being the most prominent example of that,” Johnson said.
This terror threat comes at a time when Homeland Security is waiting for Congress to pass legislation to continue funding the department. The upcoming deadline is Feb. 27.
Regarding a possible shutdown, Johnson said, “It’s bizarre and absurd that we’re even having this discussion in these challenging times, given the global terrorist threat we’ve just been talking about, given the harsh winter we’re in the midst of, and all the other things that we do.”
The Mall of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, released a statement regarding the threat:
“Mall of America is aware of the threatening video that was released, which included mention and images of the mall. We take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately. We have implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests and others won’t.”
Reuters reported that while security officials are “worried about the risk of an attack on U.S. soil by a solitary militant,” the group al Shabaab “has not appeared to gain much traction with most Somalis in the West, including in Minneapolis.”
Following Johnson’s comments, DHS spokeswoman Marsha Catron released a statement on Sunday saying that the department has worked with both the FBI and “private sector partners,” and has found no evidence of a credible threat to the mall.
“We are not aware of any specific, credible plot against the Mall of America or any other domestic commercial shopping center,” Catron said.