Over the weekend, the country was made forcefully aware of a credible threat to one of our highest-profile symbols of commerce and family activity - Bloomington, Minnesota's famed Mall of America. Al-Shahab, a Somali militant group affiliated with al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for a posted web video calling for attacks on the shopping megacenter.
The threats are being taken seriously by The Department of Homeland Security in light of al-Shahab's deadly 2013 attack on a mall in Kenya, which claimed 67 civilian lives. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson cautioned the public to remain alert on Sunday's edition of NBC's Meet the Press, but hedged his bets on avoiding the site altogether. He said, "I'm not telling people to not go to the mall… I think that there needs to be an awareness…I'm saying that the public needs to be particularly vigilant."
Several weeks ago, the HUB International Risk Services Team wrote about the Potential of Lone Wolf Terrorist Attacks - a New Wave in Terrorism for Public Places with Minimal Security. As we move through the 21st Century, terrorism may no longer take the form of large-scale coordinated attacks like 9/11. Instead militants may target small business establishments, office buildings, schools and other unsuspecting public places - densely populated "soft targets."
In response to the weekend reports, Mall of America has heightened its security presence. One of the largest retail centers in the world, the mall employs more than 12,000 people at more than 500 stores and 50 restaurants. It welcomes more than 40 million visitors annually. Mall officials issued a statement over the weekend that read in part: "Mall of America has implemented extra security precautions. Some may be noticeable to guests, and others won't be…The safety and security of our guests, employees and tenants remains our top priority."
Unfortunately, the HUB Risk Services Team expects this type of public threat to become more common, as militants use the Internet to encourage supporters to conduct homeland attacks. Businesses of all sizes need to be prepared, and in the event of an attack, able to recover as quickly as possible.
Businesses are just as vulnerable to man-made disasters as they are to natural ones. Learn why terrorism insurance is vital to your business, and contact a HUB Risk expert today to conduct a risk assessment and develop a customized plan.