Despite the emergence of a video created by Somali militants calling for attacks on malls and shopping centers in the United States, it's unlikely that patrons will see a drastic overhaul of security measures in malls across America.
According to USA Today, security officials say this is because improved mall security has been a focus since the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks:
There won't be any mad dash or scramble to improve security because security is constantly evolving and improving, Jesse Tron, spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, told USA TODAY on Monday. Security officials are not reactionary because they have been doing this all along.
That doesn't mean no additional measures will be adopted. The Mall of America issued a statement saying it had implemented extra security precautions.
But mall safety continues to mean uniformed and non-uniformed officers, video cameras and other measures seen and unseen, Tron said. It also means an online terrorism awareness program that teaches officers what to watch for, what to report and how to stay alert to threats 24/7.
Present security precautions involve constant communication between security and local police, thus bolstering efforts to improve safety. What's more, there are programs in place to prepare law enforcement and security for these types of events:
It's not just mall security staff, it's local PD, the FBI -- they are all working on these things every day, said Jim Fernandez, who overseas the online Shopping Center Security Terrorism Awareness Training Program and other terrorism awareness programs at LSU's Stephenson National Center for Security Research and Training.
USA Today adds that the group al-Shabaab was behind the video. This is the same group who has claimed the 2013 Westgate shopping center attack in Nairobi, Kenya which killed over 60 people. In the video, a man cites what militants were able to do in that case on a small scale as evidence of what could happen at larger outlets:
What if such an attack was to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota? Or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London's Oxford Street?" the man says, encouraging supporters to "hurry up, hasten towards heaven and do not hesitate.
According to USA Today, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint statement on the matter. It explained that, although there are no imminent threats, the agencies are still collaborating with law enforcement to make malls and shopping centers nationwide as safe as possible.
[via USA Today]