One day after Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson warned people against going to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minn. in the wake of a terror threat against the mall, the White house pushed back, saying people should not avoid shopping at the mall.
During the White House briefing Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest said there is “no specific credible plot” against the Mall of America, according to the intelligence community, directly rejecting what Johnson told CNN Sunday morning.
“The fact of the matter is, the intelligence community has indicated that there is no specific credible plot against the mall,” Earnest said. “Essentially, this is a reaction to a propaganda video that was put out by a terrorist group in Africa. I recognize that maybe why the issue of mall security has come to the attention of people in this room, but the fact of the matter is the administration has been mindful of this risk for years now.”
“That’s why Secretary Johnson yesterday when he was asked about this was able to indicate that we already been in touch with local law enforcement, we already been in touch with individuals who are responsible for security at shopping centers and even at the specific shopping center,” Earnest said. “In terms of understanding the facts about the threat that we face, the intelligence community is not aware of any specific credible plot against Mall of the America.”
The initial threat against the Minnesota mega-mall came from al-Qaida-linked terror group al Shabaab, which called for attacks against the site in an online video over the weekend.
However, Johnson heeded caution during an interview with CNN’s Gloria Borger on “State of the Union” Sunday morning. The secretary told the host that “public vigilance is needed” in situations of this kind.
“If anyone is planning to go to the Mall of America today, they’ve got to be particularly careful,” Johnson told Borger. “There will be enhanced security there, but public vigilance, public awareness and public caution in situations like this is particularly important, and it’s the environment we’re in, frankly.”