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After recent threats by Al Qaeda-linked rebel group Al-Shabab to bomb the West Edmonton Mall, local shopping centres and the people who frequent them are on high alert. Canadian security forces are also taking this threat seriously.

After recent threats by Al Qaeda-linked rebel group Al-Shabab to bomb the West Edmonton Mall, local shopping centres and the people who frequent them are on high alert. Canadian security forces are also taking this threat seriously.

 

The U.S. Homeland Security Department and the RCMP have said that they are not aware of any specific plot against U.S. and Canadian shopping malls but take seriously a threat by the Somali-based armed group.

 

“Al-Shabab does not have the resources and infrastructure to commit such an act,” security chief said to media. “They’re trying to encourage radicalized Canadians who may have gone abroad.” 

 

Even though the RCMP found no specific threat on Al-Shabab’s video, the Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall have implemented extra security precautions for their visitors.

 

“We ensure that safety and security to our visitors as a priority. We are always monitoring what’s going on our industry. When we heard about the video news, we said we continue to be very vigilant,” said Krista Bebeau, marketing director of Regina's Cornwall centre mall.

 

 “Theoretically, any place with a high concentration of people, or with great symbolic significance, is a potential target for terrorists.  However, Saskatchewan would be a difficult place to attract converts who might carry out such an attack," said Ron Wheeler, a sociology professor who teaches about terrorism at the University of Saskatchewan.

 

While Canadians were told not to worry about the threat, some shoppers are still concerned about their safety.

 

“Most of my shopping is done at the Cornwall Centre. I can get everything from here. But I am worried now to come to the mall after hearing a bomb threat to Edmonton mall,” said Regina shopper Trista Wolaniuk.

 

“The world has changed, we are trying to give the safest environment, we are in a public place, it is up to the customers to decide they feel safe,” Bebeau said. 

However, people who work in the mall may not have the option to stay home.

One, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said “I need to open this store, I need my job secured, so I am coming with fear after even listening bomb threat. They are terrorist anything could happen anytime, anywhere.”

 

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

 

University of Alberta professor Paul Joosse told the National Post that, “It appears to be playing off that “calling card” in the latest video. But it’s unlikely the group has operatives in Canada to attack West Edmonton Mall.”

 

Professor Joosse who teaches criminology and research on Al-Shabab activity also added, “In fact, the video indicates the opposite — it’s an open call, and that suggests they don’t have any operatives here”.

 

In 2013, Al-Shabab attacked the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya and killed 67 people and over 175 wounded.