Al-Shabaab’s Westgate-style terror threat to UK malls assessed by police
Terror group Al-Shabaab has released a video threatening attacks on UK and US shopping malls. In the footage, the extremist specifically mentions London’s Oxford Street, and provides GPS coordinates for the city’s large Westfield shopping centers.
The Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command said it’s aware of the video and is assessing the threat. US Homeland Security said they are taking the threats very seriously, but claimed they are unaware of any specific plot against US shopping malls.
Some US and Canadian officials had earlier cast doubt on the credibility of the threats, which specifically mention the Mall of America in Minnesota, the West Edmonton Mall in Canada, London’s Oxford Street and centers in Paris.
The 77-minute video was released by the Somalia-based affiliate of Al-Qaeda on Saturday.
In the footage, a man dressed in a military style jacket, his face covered with a scarf, urges followers to carry out attacks on “American and Jewish-owned” shopping malls.
Speaking with a British accent he says: “We call upon our Muslim brothers, particularly those in the West, to answer the call of Allah and target the disbelievers wherever they are.”
Al-Shabaab previously claimed responsibility for the attack on the Kenyan Westgate shopping mall in 2013, which left 67 people dead.
Referring to the Westgate attacks, he adds: “If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters can bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, imagine what a dedicate mujahedeen in the West could do to American or Jewish owned shopping centers across the world?
“What if such an attack [took place] on the Mall of America in Minnesota or the West Edmonton mall in Canada or in London’s Oxford Street… Or any of the hundred or so of the Jewish owned Westfield shopping centers…
“Take the Westfield shopping center in Stratford or White City… What would be the implications of such an attack, one can only imagine. “All it takes is a man with firm determination, of which our Muslim ummah (community) has plenty of.”
Extra security measures have been implemented at the Mall of America following the threat. A Scotland Yard spokesperson told the Daily Telegraph: “The MPS Counter Terrorism Command is aware of the video and is assessing the content.
“We remind the public that downloading extremist material may constitute an offence.”