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Homeland Security Chief: Take Attack Threat on US Malls Very Seriously

© Flickr / CliffMall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota
Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota - Sputnik International
The US Department of Homeland Security is taking seriously the threat of attacks on malls issues by Somali-based Islamist militants. Homeland security chief Jeh Johnson said his agency was on guard over such calls to violence.

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Al Shabaab and ISIL have called on external cells to commit attacks. Al shabaab specifically declared malls  in the west to be targets, going so far to name some prominent sites such as the Mall of America in Minnesota.

"Anytime a terrorist organization calls for an attack on a specific place, we've got to take that seriously," Johnson said.

He also called on the public to play a role in helping safeguard possible attack locations.

"We've seen this a number of times now where a group will call for an attack on a country, on a specific location," Johnson said on Face the Nation. "So, we've got to be vigilant."

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Mall of America announced that it has heightened their security. However, Johnson added that it shouldn’t keep people from shopping.

"I am not telling people to not go to the mall,” he said. “I think there needs to be an awareness. There needs to be vigilance. We're in a new phase right now, and that involves public participation in our efforts."

Al Shabaab is believed to be responsible for a high-profile attack on a high-end Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya in 2013 during which the ykilled 67 people. Mall, some analysts say, make good targets because they are typically lacking in security and full of unaware shoppers.

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