Somali-Americans fear backlash over Mall of America threat

The Somali community in Minnesota is denouncing a video from the terror group al-Shabaab that specifically mentions Mall of America as a potential target of an attack. The video has MOA security, Bloomington, Minn. police and the FBI on high alert, but it also has local Somalis fearful of profiling.

Statement from Somali-American leaders in Minnesota

The following statement, released by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relation (CAIR-MN), represents a group of 20 to 30 Somali-American and Muslim-American organizations in Minnesota:

"The safety and security of Minnesotans and of all Americans is of utmost importance to Somali-Americans. We condemn all forms of terrorism or threats of terrorism, repudiate any individual or group that would carry out such attacks or make such threats and remain committed to being at the forefront of defeating religious or political extremism.

"While remaining vigilant, we must not allow a terror group to achieve its goal of spreading fear or panic. We must also prevent justifiable security concerns from being used as a pretext to promote hatred, prejudice and suspicion of the whole community.

"As a nation, we are better prepared and more united when we all work together to keep our communities safe."

Bihi: Recruitment the ultimate goal of threat

Somali leaders say the goal of al-Shabaab's video was to incite fear in the public, which could be exacerbated by sensational media report of the threats.

"I think what they have in mind is to create fear among our mainstream community to be afraid of us in the Somali and Muslim community," said the Director of Somali Education and Social Advocacy at the Brian Coyle Center Abdi Bihi. "Then our community in the end will see more marginalization of young people, a lack of jobs, and that will create a vulnerable community of young people that they hope to recruit in the future. That's what al-Shabaab wanted. They wanted us to stay poor, marginalized and hated, so  they could create a fertile ground for recruitment. That's the goal."

FUD campaign

"The biggest threat to the Mall of America might be a drop in the number of shoppers based on the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) campaign launched recently by al-Qaeda's East African al-Shabaab terrorist group," said a statement from Sadik Warfa, deputy director of the Global Somali Diaspora. "The biggest victims will be Somali people going about their business as usual, but treated as ‘terrorists' because of accents or clothing preferences."

With that said, Global Somali Diaspora believes the Mall of America, the FBI and local police must take the threat seriously.

"MOA officials and law enforcement will be required to step up their vigilance as the shopping venue was named on Saturday as a suggested target. Based on the slaughter of innocent patrons in Kenya late last year, authorities must indeed pay serious attention to the threats issued on the latest video."

Bloomington police and FBI joint statement (Feb. 22)Federal, state and local law enforcement partners are aware of the recently released propaganda video that mentions Mall of America, among other malls. At this time, there is no credible threat associated with Mall of America. We will continue to work together at all levels to evaluate this and other information as it becomes available.

We take all security concerns seriously and have responded appropriately. Enhanced security measures to include additional personnel have been implemented and all information is being monitored. We will continue to focus on and to prioritize the safety, security and wellbeing of our citizens and visitors.

Mall of America remains a very safe place and employs an extensive, well-trained professional security force that patrols and monitors activity with a 24-hour presence. Bloomington Police have a permanent presence, with dedicated, full-time staffing at Mall of America. Additionally, several other law enforcement agencies maintain a high visibility in and around the property.

To report suspicious activities, contact your local law enforcement agency at 911. For more information on the Department of Homeland Security's "See Something, Say Something" safety and security initiative, visit

Mall of America statement (Feb. 21)

Mall of America is aware of a video that was recently released which included a mention and images of the Mall. We will continue to monitor events with the help of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. As always, we take any potential threat seriously and respond appropriately. Mall of America has implemented extra security precautions, some may be noticeable to guests, and others won't be. We will continue to follow the situation, along with law enforcement, and will remain vigilant as we always do in similar situations. The safety and security of our guests, employees and tenants remains our top priority.
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