ISIS claims responsibility for shopping mall attack in Minnesota.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is calling Saturday’s shopping mall stabbing in Minnesotta that injured nine victims “a potential act of terrorism.” An off duty police officer shot and killed a male suspect.
St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson told reporters Saturday night the motivation for the attack was unknown. However, the Islamic State or ISIS terrorist group’s media wing has since claimed responsibility for the attack on the Crossroads Center Shopping Mall. In a statement by the Amaq agency posted on the SITE Intellegence Group’s website on Sunday, a spokesperson for the group said the suspect was a “soldier of the Islamic State.”
Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, international terrorism experts have repeatedly warned the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that terrorist groups could easily use carry out attacks on shopping malls and other soft targets in America. On August 31, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the FBI distributed a joint bulletin to state and local law enforcement agencies across the country warning that ISIS sympathizers or “homegrown” terrorists have shifted their focus to civilian targets instead of government and military instillations. The bulletin said that according to analysis, more than 75 percent of homegrown violent extremists disruptions and attacks over the last 12 months have focused on civilian targets. Earlier in August, British officials also warned that intelligence suggests that ISIS is plotting attacks on shopping malls and stadiums.
Worldwide, shopping malls, a place where hundreds or even thousands congregate, have long been considrred favorite targets for terrorist organizations. The al-Qaeda training manual specifically instructs members of the terrorist organization to seek out Western targets to “blast and destroy places of amusement, immortality and sin.”
The U.S. government’s role in protecting the public at “soft targets” across the country is controversial. Because shopping malls, and the majority of the nation’s public space is privately owned, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security — the federal agency charged with ensuring the public safety of American citizens is limited to providing suggestions and initiatives such as tax breaks for businesses that invest in bolstering security for anything other than shoplifting. U.S. Department of Homeland Security grants that are allocated to local government agencies can be used to bolster security at high risk targets.
For businesses, armed and properly trained private security guards require more pay. And it’s a hard sell to convince businesses or shopping mall managers to spend even a small percentage of the budget on preventative measures for an event that will probably never happen. Increasingly, American shopping malls have been the scene of violent incidents such as shootings and stabbings. If the claims made by ISIS are proven, the “unthinkable”–an act of terrorism has come to an American shopping mall.
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."