On multiple occasions this week AlertsUSA subscribers have been notified via SMS messages to their mobile devices regarding new terror threats both domestic and abroad. On Sunday the 22nd, the Somali terror organization Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahidin—commonly known as al-Shabaab, called on supporters in the West to carry out attacks on shopping malls in the U.S., Canada and the UK. Specifically identified were the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta and London’s Oxford Street. Each of these communities have large Somali populations.
During an interview with CNN, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson warned mall visitors to be vigilant:
"If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they've got to be particularly careful," Johnson said. "There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it's the environment we're in, frankly."
DHS/FBI WARNING MALL OPERATORS NATIONWIDE
While the al-Shabaab video specifically referenced three malls, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI have been quietly warning mall operators across N. America of the need for increased vigilance and security measures, and in particular, near those communities with large Somali immigrant populations. At present, Minneapolis-St. Paul, home to 30 mosques and known within the international Somali community as "Little Mogadishu," has the largest concentration, followed by Atlanta, Columbus, Washington, D.C., New York City, Buffalo, Seattle, Kansas City, San Diego, Lewiston, Maine and San Francisco.
In terms of the size of the Somali population in the U.S., according to the Dept. of Homeland Security's Office of Immigration Statistics, in the ten year span leading up to the end of 2013, there have been more than 68,000 Somali refugees resettled in the U.S.. In 2014, that number was increased by 9000. And these are just the figures for the primary refugee applicant. These numbers do not include spouses or children. According to Refugee Resettlement Watch and the State Department, more than 800 new refugees from Somalia arrive in the United States every month
SOMALI REFUGEES TO THE U.S. BEING RECRUITED
Readers are reminded that Somali refugees to the U.S. are coming out of a Muslim-dominated country torn apart by a civil war, terrorism, corruption, piracy for ransom and fraud. The refugees are then transplanted into communities such as Minneapolis-Saint Paul where most enter and remain on social welfare programs, with only a very small percentage actually assimilating into broader American culture. Many of the mosques in these communities contribute to the radicalization of the youth, with recruiters drawing them into foreign terrorist networks such as al-Shabaab in Somalia and ISIS in Syria. At least two Somali immigrants from Minneapolis-St. Paul recently died fighting for ISIS in the Middle East. The FBI openly states that dozens of Somali immigrants, both men and women, have left to fight with Islamic militants in the Middle East. And these are just the just the ones law enforcement has been able to track. Logic would dictate there are scores of others.
WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN TO YOU?
First we caution to readers of the need to be extra discerning when following mainstream news coverage of threats such as those from al Shabaab. First the story is hyped into the stratosphere. They then proceed to downplay the threat by saying that al-Shabaab is a backwater outfit, running out of money and their video was intended as a plea for additional financial support. Another popular angle is to dismiss the threat as a ploy to scare the public admist Congressional funding battles. The truth of the matter is that federal, state and local law enforcement are taking the threat very seriously, and for good reason.
Al Shabaab is one of the world's most active Islamic terror organizations. The group and their followers have been responsible for dozens of attempted and successful terror attacks in such places as Somalia, Kenya, Denmark, Australia and many others. Then we have instances like Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali immigrant to the U.S. who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for trying to detonate a bomb at a holiday tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, in November 2010.
Given the carnage of the Westagate Mall attack in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013, the involvement of Somali-Americans in the attack, the effectiveness of radicalization efforts in Somali communities in the U.S. and the overall appearance of sympathy for Islamic extremism by the Obama Administration and liberal media, law enforcement and counter-terrorism professionals in the U.S., Canada and the UK are particularly concerned.
INCREASE YOUR SITUATIONAL AWARENESS
AlertsUSA also caution readers that soft targets such as shopping malls are given such a designation for a reason; they are difficult to protect and secure. If you or a family member are mall regulars, we strongly recommend you make it a point to be aware of your surroundings, know the locations of entrances and exits, and finally, remember that most individual stores have rear exits that are used to receive merchandise shipments. These can be handy if you need to exit quickly
FBI: ISIS SUPPORTERS IN ALL 50 STATES
On Wednesday of this week FBI Director James Comey revealed that his agency is investigating suspected supporters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in all 50 states.
DNI DELIVERS GRIM WORLDWIDE THREAT ASSESSMENT
On Thursday the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, gave particularly grim testimony during Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on Worldwide Threat Assessment.
Of particular note were his comments regarding global terrorism:
- 2014 saw the highest rate of political instability since 1992
- Roughly half of the world's currently stable countries at
some risk of instability over the next two years.
- The Russian cyber threat is more severe than previously assessed.
- Preliminary data for the first 9 months of 2014 reflect nearly 13,000 terror attacks killing 31,000.
- When the final accounting is complete, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled.
- Of the 13 terror attacks in the West since May 2014, 12 were conducted by individual extremists.
- Homegrown violent extremists continue to pose continue to pose the most likely threat to the homeland.
- Sunni terrorist groups (al Qaeda, al Shabaab, etc..) remain intent on striking the U.S. and the West, including aviation targets.
Watch a video of DNI Clapper's testimony HERE.
Read his written testimony HERE (PDF).