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Al Shabaab Calls For Westgate-Style Attacks On Western Shopping Malls In New Video

A day after al Shabaab killed dozens in an attack on a hotel in Mogadishu, the Somali militant group called for assaults on shopping centers in the US, UK, and Canada.
February 22, 2015, 5:45pm
Photo by Sayyid Azim/AP

The Somali militant group al Shabaab released a video Saturday calling for attacks on the Mall of America and other Western shopping centers, just hours after the extremists killed dozens of people at a luxury hotel in Somalia's capital.

Al Shabaab posted a 77-minute video that attempts to justify their brutal assault on Kenya's Westgate Mall that left more than 60 people dead in 2013. In the video, filled with passages of Islamic scripture, a narrator claims that Kenya's government has oppressed Muslims and that it is time to fight back — both against Kenya and against the West.


Somalia: The Fight Against al Shabaab. Watch the VICE News documentary here. 

"The mall is popular with expats, diplomats, and scores of other Westerners," the narrator says as images flash of the inside of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, followed by footage of gunmen and windows shattered during the assault.

At the end of the video, a man in camouflage appears on the screen and speculates on the damage that could be done at several of the Western world's largest shopping destinations.

"If just a handful of mujahideen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahideen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centers across the world," the man says. "What if such an attack were to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota? Or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London's Oxford Street?"

Jihad In Kenya. Watch the VICE News documentary here. 

Then the speaker challenges a "man with firm determination" to carry out such a scheme.

"What would be the implications of such an attack? One could only imagine," the speaker muses. "And all it takes is a man with firm determination."

The US homeland security chief responded Sunday that he took the threat seriously, and said the video was a dangerous incitement to extremists already in the US.

"This latest statement reflects the new phase we've evolved into in the global terrorist threat, in that you have groups such as al Shabaab and ISIL publicly calling for independent actors in their homelands to carry out attacks," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told CNN.


He also warned shoppers in Minnesota to stay vigilant.

"I would say that if anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they've got to be particularly careful," Johnson said.

Little Mogadishu. Watch the VICE News documentary here.

The video was released a day after al Shabaab attacked Mogadishu's Central Hotel, killing at least 25 people, including two members of parliament, and injuring at least 40. Two car bomb explosions and then heavy gunfire hit the hotel as militants laid siege to the building, Al Jazeera reported.

An Al-Shabaab spokesman told Al Jazeera at least 20 government officials had been killed in the incident.

"We have killed more than 20 senior officials working for the apostate government," the military spokesman, Abdiaziz abu Musab, told Al Jazeera. "They gathered thinking they were safe from mujahideen."

Follow Meredith Hoffman on Twitter: @merhoffman