Mall of America (Minnesota)

BIOTERRORBIBLE.COM: Mall of America (MOA) has allegedly been the target of numerous terror plots since 9/11, and is constantly featured as a lucrative terror target due to its name, size, and attractions. The Israeli security firm Rozin Security Consulting, LLC has been in charge of MOA security since 2005, and they perform "lockdown drills" on a monthly basis. If and when a bio-terror attack occurs, the MOA lockdown will trap shoppers inside the mall which will allow for the elimination of potential witnesses and enable the bio-terrorists to kill indiscriminately with no interference from the outside. Without a lockdown, shoppers would panic and flee. Israeli Michael Rozin, owner of Rozin, recently stated that, “I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life.” Based on history of terrorism conducted by the state of Israel, there is no doubt who will be blamed if MOA suffers a terror attack.

A terror attack could theoretically occur at any mall in America, but it will most likely happen in MOA in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Black Friday. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year in America and an attack the day after Thanksgiving would likely make Americans boycott malls nationwide, inevitably driving a stake into the heart of an already flailing U.S. economy. Black Friday appears to be the preferred date of the future terror attack, and Black Friday was coincidentally the same date of the mall attack in the crime comedy Mall Cop.

The partnership between Mall of America and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is also significant in that indicates that Mall of America is a future terror target.
 The city of Minneapolis is also one of 21 cities NOT at risk for elimination from the Cities Readiness Initiative (meaning that Minneapolis is "ready" for bio-terrorism).   

Title: Fear Keeps Some Shoppers Away From Mall of America, But A Defiance Remains


Date: October 11, 2001
Source: New York Times

Abstract: The giant temple of consumerism called Mall of America plays a central role in the heartland's consciousness and draws huge crowds every day. That is why some people who work and shop here are nervous these days.

''When you see reports in the media about possible terror targets, Mall of America is right up there,'' said John, a salesman at Sears who would not allow his last name to be used. ''That has to have an effect on people. It has an effect on me. I'm afraid to come in to work myself.''

Since it opened in 1992, the mall has been a vivid symbol of the United States' long economic boom. Each year 45 million people sample its attractions, which include more than 500 stores and nearly 100 places to eat and drink, along with theaters, night clubs, video arcades and a full-scale amusement park.

With so much on offer, the mall has become a regional attraction. But now, with Americans increasingly worried about the prospect of terrorist attacks, the mall may be suffering from its own popularity.

Some people are staying away, apparently worried that a place with such big crowds could become a target. Business is down. There is plenty of elbow room along the seemingly endless corridors. In some stores, it is not uncommon to find more sales people than customers.

Mall administrators have not released sales figures for the last few weeks, and there have been no reports of stores closing or laying off employees. But managers concede that better business will depend largely on what happens next both within the United States and abroad.

''The first two weeks after Sept. 11 were atrocious,'' said Ryan Hauschild, a bartender at one of the mall's taverns. ''Business is still bad, but it'll improve if there's some resolution to the situation. If we can put a stop to it and get something good happening, then I think we're all going to be happy.''

The mall is in a particularly difficult position because it is not just a place to shop -- it's also a destination. Local people, defined here as those who live within 150 miles, account for about 60 percent of the business. The rest comes from travelers passing through the nearby airport, plus planeloads of shoppers who fly in for daylong or weekend sprees.

''It used to be we'd have 30 or 35 people in the store by 11 o'clock,'' said Randy Byrne, manager of a shop that sells electronics. ''Now we're lucky if we have even 20 at any time during the day.''

Mr. Byrne said business would improve as Americans began to feel safe again.

''Assuming there are no more attacks, people will be back by Thanksgiving,'' he predicted. ''Families are getting closer, and that means more Christmas presents.''

Although fear of terrorism has evidently kept some people away from Mall of America, others are determined not to let the conflict change their lives.

''I'm not afraid,'' said Jolene Rossiter, who took her three small children to a party at the mall that was sponsored by Cheerios. ''I feel safe here.''

This place attracts many mall walkers, mostly older people who come for strolls and coffee before the stores open.

''We still see most of the people we're used to seeing,'' said Roy Bergman, a mall walker. ''I'm not going to change my lifestyle. Besides, if they bomb this place they'll do it when it's full, not early in the morning.''

If tighter security has been imposed, it is not easily visible. Shoppers are not checked as they enter, and the number of uniformed security guards does not appear to have increased.

''We haven't really changed much,'' said Steve Sterrett, chief financial officer of Simon Property Group, which manages the mall. ''Malls have always been very public places.''

Several shoppers said that hints of future terror attacks, including this week's reports of anthrax cases in Florida, have not frightened them.

Erin Runk, 28, drove half an hour to the mall. He said he was browsing in search of Christmas gift ideas.

''I pay a little more attention to what goes on around me, but if it's going to happen, it's going to happen,'' Mr. Runk said. ''There isn't much I can do unless I actually see guys dumping anthrax into the ventilation pipes. I'm not going to cower at home.''

The manager of a news and candy kiosk said customers are staying away because ''at least some of them think Mall of America could be a target.'' At a small cafe, a server said she feared that some places like hers might be forced to close.

Alamo Flags has been the exception. It has sold hundreds of flags, pins, stickers and other patriotic paraphernalia, and is clearly one of the mall's busiest stores.

One morning this week, a Jordanian named Hamzh al-Kayat was behind the counter at Alamo Flags telling customers that although car-sized flags were sold out, larger ones were still available. He said he did not feel uncomfortable and saw no contradiction as an Arab selling American flags.

''I've had a couple of little problems, but nothing serious,'' Mr. Kayat said. ''I'm very happy with this job.''

Large flags, not shoppers, abounded on Wednesday at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Business at the mall, a regional attraction, has dropped since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (New York Times, 2001).

Title: Mall Of America To Hold Terror Training Exercise
Date: September 20, 2002
Source: Brainerd Dispatch 

 The Mall of America and local authorities on Sunday night will conduct a large-scale emergency response exercise based on the idea that a bomb planted by terrorists exploded at the mall.

There will be fake smoke, two fake deaths and 28 fake injuries.

It will be the largest emergency exercise in the mall's history and the first to test response to a terrorist act. About 120 fire, police and emergency personnel will participate.

The mall will not be evacuated, but customers will be kept away from its south side, where the incident will be played out. While stores close at 7 p.m., bars, restaurants and movie theaters will stay open.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, law officers and elected leaders came to believe the megamall would be a likely target in the unlikely event that terrorists focused on Minnesota.

"I would probably rank it as the No. 1 symbol of America within Minnesota, simply because of what we stand for, our lifestyle, our way of life," said attorney William Michael Jr., former terrorism coordinator and national security coordinator for the U.S. attorney's office in Minneapolis (Brainerd Dispatch, 2002)

Title: Another Attack: It Can Happen Here
 December 29, 2002
SF Gate

Abstract: The unthinkable has become the inevitable.

Each night in the coming year, Americans will go snug to our beds as eerie White House warnings reverberate in our heads: The United States should brace for a second-wave terrorist attack likely to be even more spectacular than the first. They say it's not a question of if, but when.

But many experts say our preparations for that attack are woefully weak and inadequate. No one from President Bush on down discounts the risk, however.

"We are entering a time of especially grave danger," reads a new Council on Foreign Relations report, published in the fall, from a task force that includes former secretaries of state, former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, a former director of the CIA and FBI and three Nobel laureates.

Noting that America is planning to attack a ruthless adversary who may well have access to weapons of mass destruction, the report concludes we remain "dangerously unprepared to prevent and respond to" the likely terrorism in our immediate future.

"After a year without a new attack and with our leaders dithering over bureaucracy and funding, the lack of a sense of urgency is appalling," said former Sen. Gary Hart, co-chair of the task force and the U.S. Commission on National Security, which issued similar, largely ignored warnings before Sept. 11.

The frustration is echoed by participants in a science and technology panel assembled by the National Academies: Virtually all of the 134 emergency recommendations they made half a year ago for reducing our vulnerability are still on the shelf.

Panel co-chair Lewis Branscomb, professor emeritus at Harvard and former chief scientist at IBM, calls the coming Iraq venture "an expensive and dangerous diversion" from the real mission of defending against a next attack.

In another terrorist attack, Americans can count on first-responders -- firefighters, medics and police -- to demonstrate the professionalism and raw courage witnessed Sept. 11. But they will be forced to do so without many of the tools they need.

Less than half of public health departments have e-mail, for example. More than 70 percent of cities across the country still cannot afford to buy enough hazardous materials suits to protect the rescue workers who would arrive first following a chemical attack. And thus far, none of the $3.5 billion Congress authorized to local governments for first-responders has even been delivered.

"People running our cities are very, very aware that more needs to be done, " said Karen Anderson, outgoing president of the National League of Cities and mayor of Minnetonka, Minn. "I'd say, please follow through with the funds so desperately needed by our first-responders."

If another major attack exposes lax preparedness, many Americans will question delays that may have seemed justifiable inside the Beltway but were inexcusable elsewhere. Why should it take at least five years for the Homeland Security Department to become fully operational? Why has the smallpox vaccination program been mired in wrangling over legal liability? Wasn't it foolish for the Defense Department to purge some Arabic-language translators because they are gay?

In case of another attack, some political analysts predict, the American public once again will fail to blame President Bush, because they understand the impossibility of absolute security. Instead, they credit him with making progress in security matters, especially as long as another attack does not occur.

Others say the public will be less forgiving the second time around. "Nobody has accused this president of working too hard. If he's got time to go out on the campaign trail for all those Republican candidates for Congress, he's got time to deal with (civil defense)," scolded former Sen. Hart. "Franklin Delano Roosevelt fought a Depression and World War II at the same time."

No clairvoyant can predict precisely how the country would weather a second attack. But analysts are prepared to make educated guesses as a way of assessing our readiness.

The most optimistic scenarios are isolated and manageable -- say, a cyber- attack that plays havoc with air traffic control but is ultimately thwarted by a backup defense system, triggers no plane crashes and barely alters an economy that's looking up in 2003.

There are also worst-case scenarios. For example: "suicide terrorists" infected with deadly smallpox circulate through Disneyland, the Mall of America and other bustling icons, triggering an uncontainable epidemic on a yet-to-be-vaccinated population, forcing mass closures of schools and businesses and sending the economy into free-fall.

Last year, a government simulation indicated 15,000 people would contract smallpox, and 1,000 would die, within two weeks of the first patients showing signs of illness. Although the risky smallpox vaccine is effective up to five days after exposure, panicked Americans could swamp the public health system, and there wouldn't be enough licensed vaccine to go around.

When TEC International asked more than 1,000 CEOs this month about their greatest concern for the economic future, few cited higher taxes, energy prices, war or labor shortages. What 40 percent feared most was another terrorist attack here.

The financial ripples of terrorism spread in unexpected patterns, as Sept. 11 underscored. When the U.S.-Canadian border shut down briefly after the attack, many of the "Big Three" automakers' assembly plants went idle within two days, stopping production of $1 million worth of cars at each plant every single hour.

Imagine in 2003 an explosion at the ports of either Long Beach or Los Angeles, which together take in almost half of the maritime containers arriving in the country, not to mention nearly a quarter of California's imported crude oil. The resulting shutdown of West Coast ports would cost at least $1 billion a day and strand much of the state without refined fuels.

"The most likely place for the next attack isn't on an airline, it's rail or a seaport or infrastructure. The shock to the system will be huge, and the country will insist on entirely revamping security at a huge cost," said David Kotok, president of Cumberland Advisors Inc., and a survivor of the World Trade Center attack.

On the other hand, the economy may bounce back from another attack better this time because more fiscal and monetary stimuli are in the pipeline, and because the Federal Reserve reassured the markets by responding calmly and efficiently to Sept. 11.

Public health labs, however, could crash under surging demand for tests in the event of a biological attack. For example, seven months after the anthrax mailings, there was a backlog of thousands of unexamined specimens suspected of contamination.

Many state and local public health agencies face budget cuts. The inadvertent result, according to Dr. Georges Benjamin, head of the American Public Health Association: 2003 will be a year of fiscal emergency for public health.

A second attack likely would precipitate a further crackdown on civil liberties.

"Privately, that's a huge concern for us," said Samuel Walker, author of a book on the history of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Another attack will undoubtedly be used to justify more government snooping, including on innocent people. I think we've learned from our history not to inter Arab Americans as we did Japanese Americans in World War II. It'll be something different -- maybe drastic immigration controls."

How would the American psyche weather another attack?

Psychologists say, in one sense, it will be more painful because Americans still haven't fully healed from the trauma of Sept. 11 -- a skinned knee bumped again is more likely to bleed.

"But one of the most fascinating things about human nature is our amazing adaptability," said Jana Martin, incoming president of the California Psychological Association. "We learn to live with the situations we're in, whether it's people in war-torn countries, or in families with rampant abuse, or in an area like California where a major earthquake could hit at any moment. "

If the experts are right about more terrorism in America's future, resilience will be a prized commodity (SF Gate, 2002)


L.A. Officials Issue Terrorism Alert For Local Malls
Date: April 29, 2004
Source: MSNBC

Abstract: A terrorism task force was investigating an “uncorroborated” threat to a Los Angeles-area shopping mall, and federal officials say an attack may have been planned for Thursday.

“As of now, the information is uncorroborated and the credibility of the source is unknown,” Los Angeles police said in a statement.

No specific shopping mall was named, but an anonymous telephone call to federal officials several days ago indicated a mall near the Federal Building in West Los Angeles, Police Chief William Bratton said. The caller provided no further details about a possible attack.

The warning was analyzed for several days along with other information that Bratton declined to specify. Malls were notified and police were placed on citywide alert before the public warning was made.

The alert was “strictly precautionary,” Bratton said at a news conference at The Grove, an open shopping mall in the Fairfax District.

Bratton Calls for ‘Eyes, Ears’ of Public

The alert was “strictly precautionary,” Bratton said at a news conference.

“We need the eyes, the ears” of the public because such scrutiny can deter terrorists, he added.

Bratton said police and the FBI were trying to identify the caller. Police had already been investigating several other threats that weren’t as specific.

The Los Angeles Police Department increased patrols at shopping malls and asked mall operators to beef up security while a joint terrorism task force investigates.

Thursday morning, pairs of LAPD officers on foot patrolled all three levels of the Westside Pavilion, about 2½ miles away from the Federal Building.

Liliana Restrepo, 24, who operates a jewelry cart in the mall, said she wasn’t worried herself but was afraid the threat would scare away customers. “It will be a horrible day,” she said.

Crew members putting up sets for a Tim Allen movie called “Skipping Christmas” also shrugged off the warning. “We can’t let it bother us. We can’t live in fear,” said Alex Barnoya.

4,000 Similar Threats

FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin said that because the "reliability of the source is unknown" and exact details were "unsubstantiated," officials decided that as the date drew nearer and "out of an abundance of caution" they would enlist the public's help.

He added that seeking public help is done "in cases all the time." The FBI says 4,000 similar, unsubstantiated threats have been received in the United States over the last year.

An advisory issued late Wednesday asks the public and mall security to look for:

  1. People or activities that don't "fit" into the mall environment.
  2. People sitting in a parked vehicle for a long time.
  3. People sketching or taking notes, photographing or videotaping areas not normally associated with tourism.
  4. Someone wearing a heavy coat in hot weather.
  5. Anyone carrying unusually heavy bags or backpacks.
  6. Vehicles improperly parked or in spots not normally used for deliveries (MSNBC, 2004)
Title: Feds: Holiday Arrest Timed To Save Shoppers 
Date: June 15, 2004
Cincinnati Enquirer

When the Christmas shopping season arrived last year, federal authorities in Cincinnati and Columbus decided they could wait no longer.

They arrested Nuradin M. Abdi on suspicion that the Somali immigrant was plotting with al-Qaida operatives to blow up a shopping mall.

They had been investigating at least six months and wanted to learn more about him and potential targets. But on the day after Thanksgiving - one of the busiest shopping days of the year - they moved.

"We thought that if something was going to be done, that might be the time," said Richard Wilkens, agent in charge of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Cincinnati. "He was a threat to national security."

The nature of the threat was revealed for the first time Monday when authorities announced Abdi's indictment on terrorism-related charges.

Although family members in Columbus described Abdi as an immigrant who loved freedom and hated terrorists, law enforcement officials portrayed him as a man determined to harm his adopted country.

They said he made contact with a known al-Qaida operative, traveled to Ethiopia for military-style training in preparation for "violent Jihad" and plotted to detonate a bomb in a Columbus-area mall.

"This was an ugly threat," said Kevin Brock, special agent in charge of the FBI in Cincinnati. "It was a hateful threat."

Attorney General John Ashcroft said at a Washington news conference that the Abdi case is further proof that al-Qaida wants "to hit the United States hard."

Federal court records linked Abdi - who ran a cell phone business in Columbus - to former Columbus truck driver Iyman Faris, serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty a year ago to providing material support to al-Qaida.

The records state that Faris met Abdi at the Columbus airport in March 2000 upon Abdi's return from terrorist training in Ethiopia, which included lessons in guerrilla warfare, bombs and "anything to damage the enemy."

"The defendant's purpose in obtaining this training was to ready himself to participate in violent Jihad conflicts," federal prosecutors state in the court records.

The prosecutors claim that Abdi, 32, later obtained bomb-making instructions and plotted with Faris and other, unnamed conspirators to attack a mall.

Brock described Abdi as a serious threat, but he said investigators did not think that an attack was imminent when he was arrested Nov. 28, 2003, on immigration violations.

"There are no malls in imminent danger, then or now," Brock said. "We became aware of the threat in time to avert it."

He said investigators were confident last year that there was no immediate danger because Faris, one of the key figures in the alleged plot, already was jailed. He said that's why no specific warnings were issued last fall and why Columbus malls were not notified of a potential threat.

"This plot was foiled while it was still in the planning stages," said Bill Hunt, the first assistant to U.S. Attorney Gregory Lockhart.

Even so, authorities decided not to take any chances in November when the busy holiday shopping season was about to begin.

"The timing was of special interest," said Greg Palmore, spokesman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. "The Christmas season means a lot of shoppers."

Law enforcement officials said they developed information about Abdi's possible connection to terrorism after Faris' arrest, although they would not say whether Faris provided that information.

Faris, originally from Kashmir, admitted last year to plotting to cut support cables on the Brooklyn Bridge and to derail trains in New York and Washington. Neither of those plots was carried out.

Authorities would not say how Faris knew Abdi, but Brock confirmed Monday that the two men had a relationship and that "these charges are connected to Faris."

He said the Southern Ohio Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes representatives from the FBI and several other federal agencies, continues to investigate several individuals.

Abdi's arrest in November was based on charges that he falsified information that he used to obtain asylum in the United States in 1999.

The recent charges include conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, fraud and misuse of documents, and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Abdi's Cincinnati-based immigration lawyer, Doug Weigle, said he did not know details about the terrorist charges against his client. But Abdi's family and a Somali advocacy group based in Minnesota, the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, complained Monday about the "secrecy and lack of due process."

Federal officials would not say where Abdi has been jailed since his arrest, only that he has been at several locations.

Abdi appeared in U.S. District Court in Columbus Monday and was ordered held without bond for another hearing Wednesday (Cincinnati Enquirer, 2004)

Title: Feds Arrest Man They Say Planned To Detonate Grenades In Illinois Shopping Mall
Date: December 9, 2006
Source: Fox News 

Abstract: A man has been arrested by federal agents on charges of planning to set off hand grenades at an Illinois shopping mall on Dec. 22 as part of his plan to commit "violent jihad" against civilians.

Derrick Shareef, 22, of Rockford, was arrested when he carried out a rendezvous with an undercover agent in a parking lot to trade a set of stereo speakers for four grenades and a handgun.

Federal officials said he planned to place the grenades in garbage cans at the CherryVale shopping mall in Rockford, about 90 miles northwest of Chicago.

Shareef was charged with one count of attempting to damage or destroy a building by fire or explosion and one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Officials say he was acting alone and there was never any real threat.

"The Joint Terrorism Task Force was all over this … and the only person involved in this plot was Mr. Shareef and two people working for the government," U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said during a press conference from Chicago Friday afternoon.

"We believe we've neutralized this threat," added Robert Grant, special agent in charge of the Chicago office of the FBI.

He planned the attack for the Friday before Christmas.

"He fixed on a day of December 22nd on Friday ... because it was the Friday before Christmas and thought that would be the highest concentration of shoppers that he could kill and injure," Grant said.

If convicted, each charge in the complaint carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.

A handcuffed Shareef appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez Friday. She ordered him held without bond and set a Dec. 20 hearing on a defense motion for bail.

"He did have the intention, if the allegations in the complaint are true, to engage in violence against the public," Fitzgerald added.

Fitzgerald noted that Shareef only decided upon the targeted mall after surveying several facilities, and that he was not a well-funded would-be terrorist.

Federal officials said that in September, Shareef became acquainted with a witness who was cooperating with the FBI and confided to him that he wanted to commit acts of "violent jihad," as well as other crimes, to obtain funds to further his goals.

From then on, Shareef's activities and movements were under constant surveillance and "there was no imminent risk to the public," Robert Grant, special agent-in-charge of the Chicago Office of the FBI, said in a statement.

"By using an undercover agent, confidential sources and physical surveillance, the JTTF was in position to continuously monitor Shareef's activities and was prepared to intervene before he could act," he added.

The CherryVale Mall was among several potential targets that Shareef allegedly discussed during the course of the investigation, authorities said, while the others were primarily local government facilities.

According to an FBI affidavit supporting the complaint, Shareef became acquainted in September with someone in Rockford, in whom he confided about his jihad dreams. That confidant, referred to as "the CS" in the affidavit, was a FBI witness. The CS told Shareef that he would introduce him to a friend who was able to obtain weapons. That "friend" was actually an undercover government agent.

During the investigation, the CS recorded many conversations with Shareef. On Nov. 29, Shareef mentioned "courthouses, city hall, government places, government facilities," as potential targets.

The next day, Shareef and the CS discussed the CherryVale Mall as a possible target. Around 6:15 p.m. on Nov. 30, Shareef and the CS went to the mall while under surveillance by authorities.

They walked around, discussing the layout and best spots to set off several grenades to create more pandemonium, according to the affidavit. In a Dec. 1 conversation, the two allegedly discussed purchasing hand grenades from the undercover agent and the timing mechanism of the grenades. They also discussed shaving their body hair and meditating to prepare for an attack.

When they arrived at the mall a second time under surveillance, Shareef and the CS walked around and measured the time it would take to walk from one point to another in the mall.

According to the affidavit, on Dec. 2, while driving around Rockford in the CS's car and still under surveillance, Shareef and the CS discussed exchanging a set of Shareef's stereo speakers for the weapons. Later that day, the two videotaped each other making statements similar to those made by those planning attacks in the name of jihad, according to the complaint.

The exchange between the CS, Shareef and the undercover was scheduled for Wednesday of this week at a store parking lot in Rockford. After greeting each other, the two showed each other the equipment they were to swap, then the CS signaled federal agents waiting nearby. Shareef was arrested without incident (Fox News, 2006)


 Gunman Kills Five People At Trolley Square
Date: February 13, 2007
Source: KSL News 

Abstract: The winding hallways of Salt Lake City's Trolley Square became a shooting gallery for an 18-year-old gunman in a trench coat who fired a shotgun randomly at customers, killing five and wounding four before being killed by police, authorities and witnesses said.

The shooter also was armed with a handgun and had several rounds of ammunition, Salt Lake City police Detective Robin Snyder said early Tuesday. It was not clear if he fired the handgun, nor had a motive been determined, she said.

The man's name was not released. He was a Salt Lake City resident.

"I was working and all of a sudden I heard a shot, and I saw security run by. I didn't really know what was going on. People just started running," a witness named Maya said.

Marie Smith, 23, a Bath & Body Works manager, saw the gunman through the store window. She watched as he raised his gun and fired at a young woman approaching him from behind.

"His expression stayed totally calm. He didn't seem upset, or like he was on a rampage," said Smith, who crawled to safety in an employee restroom to hide with others. She said the gunman looked like "an average Joe."

Killed were two 28-year-old women, a 52-year-old man, a 24-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, Snyder said.

The surviving victims were transported to several area hospitals.

Surviving Victim Information

53-year-old male, critical condition
44-year-old female, critical condition
34-year-old male, serious condition
16-year-old boy, serious condition
Pregnant woman treated for psychological trauma

As of this morning, we know a 53-year-old man and a 44-year-old woman are in critical condition. Two other men are in serious condition. A woman who is 32 weeks pregnant was taken to Salt Lake Regional Hospital for severe psychological trauma.

YouTube Video

The chaos at the mall erupted at 6:45 p.m. Witnesses told us they saw the gunman, heard the shots and screaming and saw the wounded.

Salt Lake police are encouraging anyone who was inside the mall at the time of the shooting, who may need counseling, to call Valley Mental Health at 261-1442.

"We have six fatalities (including the gunman) and multiple victims at hospitals," Snyder said. "They were found throughout the mall."

Barbara Lund was working in a store. "We heard the gunshots. They were pretty loud. Then one of my friends came out and told me there were gunshots there."

Matt Lund, Barbara's husband, said he saw a woman's body face-down at the entrance to Pottery Barn Kids. He locked himself and four others inside a storage room for about 40 minutes, isolated but still able to hear the violence.

The terror seemed to begin in the parking lot near the Williams Sonoma store. Two brothers leaving the mall saw a wounded youth taking shelter in a car.

"The young boy, he ran and jumped in a car. He'd been shot on this side, and his ear looked like meatloaf."

As the gunman entered the mall, he started blasting away with a shotgun. Fear and confusion spread. Police arrived within a few minutes. Hundreds of shoppers and workers took cover, hiding wherever they could. Some heard the final confrontation.

"We heard them say, 'Police! Drop your weapon!' Then we heard shotgun fire. Then there was a barrage of gunfire," Matt Lund, 44, said. "It was hard to believe."

Witnesses reported dozens of shots, perhaps 50 or more. And then silence. As some were cleared to leave by police, they saw the gunman's shotgun shells scattered around in front of shops.

"As we were running towards the north side of the building, we looked to our left, and there was glass shattered all over the floor next to the escalators. And maybe, it was so quick, but maybe 10 bodies lying on the ground," said witness Clifton Black.

YouTube Video

Melinda Gurr added, "We were rushed out pretty quickly. We saw a bunch of bodies heaped on the floor, and there was glass everywhere. A pretty gory sight."

"It was really just scary. I wanted to get out of there," Black said.

Salt Lake City police Detective Robin Snyder said many employees and shoppers -- "a lot of scared people" -- still were inside at 9 p.m. MST, hunkered down and waiting for a police escort. "This is a huge area to cover," she said.

It's not known how many people were in the mall when the shots were fired, but Snyder said investigators had between 100 and 200 witnesses to interview.

By dawn Tuesday, two memorial sites with lighted candles and flowers were set up outside Trolley Square.

Some say officers treated everyone like suspects -- ordering those hiding in storerooms, bathrooms or under stairwells, to lie on the floor with their hands on their heads until police were sure no one posed a threat.

An antique-store owner, Barrett Dodds, 29, said he saw a man in a trench coat exchanging gunfire with a police officer outside a card store. The gunman was backed into a children's clothing store.

"I saw the cops go in the store. I saw the shooter go down," said Dodds, who watched from the second floor.

Four police officers -- one an off-duty officer from Ogden and three Salt Lake City officers -- were involved in the shootout with the gunman, Snyder said. She provided no other details.

She said she didn't believe there had been a shooting in Salt Lake City where so many people were killed.

"I don't know that we've ever had one that even compares to this," she said. "We had some incidents in the past here in Salt Lake City, but nothing of this nature."

Barb McKeown, 60, of Washington, D.C., was in another antique shop when two frantic women ran in and reported gunshots.

"Then we heard shot after shot after shot -- loud, loud, loud," said McKeown, who believes she heard approximately 20 shots.

She and three other people hid under a store staircase until it was safe to leave.

When one of our KSL crews arrived at Trolley Square, groups of people were huddled on the corners. They'd been evacuated and were waiting in the cold to be reunited with family, or to get their cars out of the parking lot, or their personal belongings.


We talked to a lot of those people. All were in different stores at the time of the shooting, but all heard the same thing.

"I heard the gunshot, and I saw the security guards run."

"Just heard this bang. Bang, bang, bang. It was just like random shots going off."

"We heard what sounded like big balloons, boxes being stamped on. You never expect gunshots. Then heard the glass doors being shot out and the gunman coming through there. We all screamed and ran and hid in the store."

"So we said to the owner of the store, 'Lock the doors. Lock the doors.' She did, and she turned the lights out so it looked like the store was closed."

Police eventually gathered all the witness inside Hard Rock Cafe to question them about what they saw.

As people ran from the mall for their lives, people also flocked to Trolley Square to see for themselves what was happening.

As KSL's Sam Penrod walked up to the scene, less than an hour after the shooting started, people were in tears and in shock, just wondering if this was really happening. They were also waiting for some kind of an indication that it was safe again. The victims who were inside the mall at the time of the shooting and ran for their lives just stood around, almost in disbelief. Many of them witnessed the shooting, they heard the shots, they saw people running and screaming to get out.

They told us they waited for the police to get here. The sight of the police cars was a huge relief, knowing that something could be done to end this nightmare.

With all the commotion, neighbors started coming out of their houses to see what was happening. Soon, fire trucks and ambulance after ambulance came to the scene. So did police officers. More than an hour after the shooting, reinforcements continued to arrive.

For those who were there Monday night, it's been terrifying and traumatizing. People are going to need time to heal emotionally, to recover from such a terrible night (KSL News, 2007).

Exclusive: FBI: Al Qaeda May Strike U.S. Shopping Malls In LA, Chicago
Date: November 8, 2007
Source: ABC News


AbstractThe FBI is warning that al Qaeda may be preparing a series of holiday attacks on U.S. shopping malls in Los Angeles and Chicago, according to an intelligence report distributed to law enforcement authorities across the country this morning. (Click here for full text.) The alert said al Qaeda "hoped to disrupt the U.S. economy and has been planning the attack for the past two years." 

Law enforcement officials tell ABCNews.com that the FBI received the information in late September and declassified it yesterday for wide distribution.  The alert, like similar FBI and Department of Homeland Security terror alerts issued over the past five years at holiday times, raised questions about the credibility of the information. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS BlotterMI5: Teen Al Qaeda Recruits, Russian Spies Target  Britain Blotter Sneaky Sandals Could Be Next Terror Tool Photos Explosive Footwear Blotter New U.S. 

The bulletin acknowledges that U.S. intelligence officers are uncertain as to whether the information is real, and intelligence officers say there is a concern that it could be "disinformation." Law enforcement officials at three different agencies told ABCNews.com the FBI alert was based on a source who has proved reliable in the past. The source reportedly had only "indirect access" to al Qaeda and word of the actual threat came to U.S. intelligence officers "through a lengthy chain" of contacts. 

With the shopping season approaching, however, the FBI officials decided it was necessary to share the information. For the past few years, jihadist chat rooms have regularly posted comments from anonymous individuals who have suggested or boasted about similar plans to attack such soft targets as shopping malls. "Out of abundance of caution, and for any number of other reasons, raw intelligence is regularly shared within the intelligence and law enforcement communities — even when the value of the information is unknown," said Special Agent Richard Kolko. 

"In the post-9/11 era, sharing information is our top priority. Al-Qa’ida messaging has clearly stated they intend to attack the U.S. or its interests; however, there is no information to state this is a credible threat. As always, we remind people to remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to authorities." "We have no credible, specific information suggesting an imminent attack," a DHS official said. This post has been updated. Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team? (ABC News, 2007)


 Gunman Kills Eight, Then Himself, At Omaha Shopping Mall
Date: December 6, 2007
Fox News

Abstract: A man with a rifle opened fire at a busy Omaha shopping mall Wednesday, killing eight people before taking his own life, police said. Five others were wounded, two critically.

The killer has been identified as Robert A. Hawkins, age 19 or 20, who left a suicide note stating, "I'm going out in style" and "I'm going to be famous." The man's vehicle was reportedly found in the parking lot.

Hawkins' mother brought the note to the local sheriff's office. She was being questioned by investigators Wednesday night.

Sgt. Teresa Negron said the gunman killed eight people, then apparently killed himself. Authorities gave no motive for the attack and did not know whether he said anything during the rampage.

Friends described Hawkins as "depressed" and said he had quit school several years ago and worked at a series of fast food jobs. He was arrested last month on misdemeanor charges and was expected to appear in court this month.

Officials said Hawkins, clad in military-style clothing, entered the mall just before 2 p.m. Wednesday and began firing off rounds.

The rampage sent shoppers and employees running and screaming through the Westroads Mall, barricading themselves in dressing rooms after hearing gunfire. Hawkins was found dead on the third floor of the Von Maur store with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and his victims were discovered on  the second and third floors, police said.


Witnesses said Hawkins fired down on shoppers from a third-floor balcony of the Von Maur store.

"Everybody was scared, and we didn't know what was going on," said Belene Esaw-Kagbara, 31, a Von Maur employee. "We didn't know what to do. I was praying that God protect us."

Mickey Vickory, who worked at Von Maur's third-floor service department, said she heard shots at about 1:50 p.m.

She and her co-workers and customers went into a back closet behind the wrapping room to hide, then emerged about a half-hour later when police shouted to come out with their hands up. As police took them to another part of the mall for safety, they saw the victims.

"We saw the bodies and we saw the blood," she said.

Police received a 911 call from someone inside the mall, and shots could be heard in the background, Negron said. By the time officers arrived six minutes later, the shooting was over, she said.

Shortly after the shooting, which came three weeks before Christmas, a group of shoppers came out of the building with their hands raised. Some were still holding shopping bags.

It was not clear Wednesday night when Hawkins took his own life.

Another man was taken into custody outside of the mall, but his role in the shooting was not clear.

Two gunshot victims who were treated at Creighton Medical Center died from their wounds, FOX News confirmed, and a third victim being treated there remained in critical condition.

YouTube Video

No additional information was available on the other fatalities.

Andrea McMaster, a spokeswoman for the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told FOX News that three shooting victims were being treated there: a 61-year-old man shot in the chest, a 34-year-old man shot in the arm, and a 55-year-old man with a cut to his face. The 61-year-old man was in critical condition and undergoing surgery.

Police had put the Westroads Mall, Omaha's largest shopping mall, on lockdown while it searched for the gunman.

One of the victims was reportedly an elderly man found near an escalator inside Von Maur department store, one of the mall's anchor tenents.

Witnesses described hearing "dozens and dozens" of shots being fired, with one witness saying she heard more than 30 shots.

Shawn Vidlak said he heard four or five rapid shots "like a nail gun." At first he thought it was noise from construction work going on at the mall.

"People started screaming about gunshots," Vidlak said. "I grabbed my wife and kids we got out of there as fast as we could."

A woman who answered the phone at an Old Navy store said 20 to 30 customers were huddled with employees in a back storeroom.

"All we know was people were running and screaming down the hallway by Von Maur saying there was a shooting, and then they locked us down," said the woman, who said her name was Heidi.

Keith Fidler, an employee at Von Maur, said he heard the burst of gunfire, followed by dozens of shots. Fidler said he huddled in the corner of the men's clothing department with about a dozen other employees until police yelled to get out of the store.

Fidler said he did not see the shooting, but saw a person lying by the elevator as he was leaving the store.

Todd Trimpe told FOX News that he saw police apprehend a man, dressed in camouflage, who was hiding under a bus-stop bench outside the mall. Trimpe said the man "stood out like a sore thumb." He did not know what was happening inside the mall when he witnessed the arrest.

The sprawling, three-level mall has more than 135 stores and restaurants, according to the Web site for General Growth Properties, the manager of the mall. It gets 14.5 million visitors every year, according to the Web site.

On Friday night, authorities removed a live grenade from the parking lot of the same mall.

President Bush was in town Wednesday for a fundraiser in Omaha, but left about an hour before the shooting.

Wednesday's shooting was the second mass shooting at a mall this year. In February, nine people were shot, five of them fatally, at Trolley Square mall in Salt Lake City. The gunman, 18-year-old Sulejman Talovic, was shot and killed by police (Fox News, 2007)


Title: "Paul Blart: Mall Cop"
Date: January 16, 2009
Source: Wikipedia

"Paul Blart: Mall Cop" is a 2009 crime comedy film written by and starring Kevin James as the title character and directed by Steve Carr. The film was released on January 16, 2009 by Columbia Pictures. 
Paul Blart (Kevin James) is a mild-mannered, occasionally square, overweight security officer who works at patrol in the West Orange Pavilion Mall in West Orange, New Jersey. 

He lives with his elderly mother Margaret (Shirley Knight) and daughter Maya (Raini Rodriguez), and dreams of being able to join the New Jersey State Police, but he always fails his entrance test due to his hypoglycemia. While on patrol at work riding his Segway PT, Blart notices a new wig kiosk and its vendor, Amy Anderson (Jayma Mays) and is instantly attracted to her. Back at base, Blart has to take the new guy, Veck Simms (Keir O'Donnell), out on a patrol to train him. 

At the end of his shift, Blart becomes acquainted with Amy and escorts to her yellow 1966 Ford Mustang convertible. Amy invites Blart to join her, Veck, and his friends at American Joe's, and Blart accepts and attends the event. At the event, however, Blart gets extremely drunk after drinking too much margarita during his nacho eating contest with Leon (Jamal Mixon) and crashes the stage that the band is playing on, culminating with him falling through one of the windows.

On Thanksgiving, Blart feels as though he embarrassed Amy and that she doesn't like him anymore and Maya tries to cheer him up. On Black Friday at the shopping mall, Amy, Stuart (Stephen Rannazzisi), and other of Blart's colleagues are in the bank to cash their paychecks. While a gang of criminals (in disguise as Santa's Little Helpers) suddenly break through the service entrance and take over the mall, Blart is distracted by playing Rock Band in the arcade zone. The criminals clear the  mall and took Amy, Stuart, Leon, and other of Blart's colleagues hostage in the bank. Veck is revealed to be a double agent and the ringleader of the hijackers, and plans to use the credit card codes from all the stores in the mall to steal $30 million and later fly to the Cayman Islands, taking the hostages with him. 

As Blart leaves the arcade, he noticed that the mall has been taken over and calls the police who later show up outside the front entrance of the mall. Sergeant Howard (Adam Ferrara) instructs Blart to leave the mall immediately, but when Blart saw Amy's car in the parking lot, he realizes that he must rescue Amy and everyone else. The SWAT team soon arrives and Commander James Kent (Bobby Cannavale), who bullied Blart in high school, takes control of the situation. Blart is vastly outnumbered and physically outclassed, but fights against the gang members through improvised measures. 

Maya shows up to bring Blart his dinner, but Veck's henchmen intercept her and take her hostage as well. After Blart works his way through all of Veck's underlings, he attempts to extract the hostages by pulling them up into an airvent via the rope, but fails after Leon cannot fit and when Veck enters the room, Blart is captured. Veck demands to have the credit card codes and Blart is forced to fling him the phone that contains the codes. Veck escapes with the codes and holds Amy and Maya at gunpoint.

Blart steals the mall's display minivan and pursues Veck to the airport, where Veck attempts to escape in a Cessna Citation III business jet along with Amy and Maya. After a brief fight, Blart cuffs Veck, but Kent pulls his gun on Blart, revealing himself as a mole in the SWAT team and that he was working with Veck the whole time. Kent demands Blart to give him the phone containing the codes, but Blart smashes it on the ground. Later, Kent is shot in his arm by Chief Brooks (Peter Gerety); the police reveal themselves and finally arrest Kent along with rescuing Amy and Maya. 

The next day, Maya is proud of Blart and he gives Amy a birthday card who in turn kisses him. Sergeant Howard offers Blart his job as a State Trooper, but Blart decides that his place is protecting the people at the mall with Amy and the rest of his friends. During the closing credits, bonus scenes finds Blart and Amy getting married in the mall along with Blart's friends and family, riding Segways (Wikipedia, 2011)


Timothy Ryan Gutierrez, Accused Of Trying To Blow Up The Mall Of America
 January 30, 2009
 NY Daily News 

Abstract: A Colorado man has been indicted on charges of threatening to kill President Barack Obama and blow up the Mall of America in suburban Minneapolis. The man said the threat against Obama was a prank.

Timothy Ryan Gutierrez, 20, surrendered Thursday at the FBI's office in Durango and was being held without bond, the U.S. attorney's office said.

A federal grand jury in Denver handed up the indictment Tuesday against Gutierrez, of Cortez, in southwestern Colorado. He was to appear in court Friday. It was not known if he had an attorney.

"Both threats were taken seriously and both threats were investigated immediately by the FBI," said Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for acting U.S. Attorney Dave Gaouette.

Gutierrez faces one count each of transmission of threats and falsely threatening to use explosives.

The indictment claims Gutierrez e-mailed the FBI's Washington office eight days before Obama's inauguration saying: "I'm going to assassinate the new president of the United States of America. P.S., you have 48 hours to stop it from happening."

The indictment says a second e-mail threatened to blow up the mall with 40 pounds of C4 explosive and TNT planted on seven cars parked outside.

"Good luck thank you and God bless the you know the rest time is wasting," the e-mail read, according to the indictment.

In an interview Thursday, Gutierrez told the Cortez Journal that the threat against Obama was just a prank because the president misrepresented himself.

"I'm not mad about him becoming president, but he's not doing what he said he was going to do," he said. "He's not doing anything for the lower class - just the middle and upper class. Medications are going up, not lowering and jobs are being lost. His actions are going to get him in trouble."

Gutierrez said he is from Andrews, Texas and had been staying with relatives in Cortez. He said he didn't have a job in Texas but "played with computers" by taking them apart and putting them back together - knowledge he said helped him hack into the Web site for the U.S. Department of Defense and the FBI.

"I wanted to see what was really going on," Gutierrez said. "There are 500 acres of encryption data (to go through), but I found a slip through it. There's always a hole."

He added that he "didn't think they would actually find" the e-mail message he left on the FBI system.

Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane said FBI agents and two Cortez officers spoke to Gutierrez at an apartment on Jan. 12, the day the indictment says the e-mails were sent.

It wasn't clear why Gutierrez wasn't arrested then and Lane referred those questions to federal authorities. Dorschner and FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright said they could not comment.

Other men in Florida, Hawaii, Mississippi and Nebraska also face charges in connection with threats against Obama (NY Daily News, 2009)

Title: Mall Cops: Mall of America
Date: October 15, 2009
Source: Wikipedia

Abstract: "Mall Cops: Mall of America" is an American reality television series that follows the work of the security team at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, the second largest mall in North America. Twelve half-hour episodes have been ordered for TLC. The series premiered on May 27, 2010. The series documents the events of a 100-plus team of mall security officers in the biggest mall in America. The Mall Cops help lost kids, track down shoplifters, arrest disorderly guests, and responding to a variety of medical calls. Mall of America boasts more than 500 stores, a theme park, an aquarium and a school (Wikipedia, 2011)


 Man Charged In Plot To Attack U.S. Shopping Mall

Date: October 21, 2009
Source: Reuters 

U.S. federal prosecutors have charged a Massachusetts man with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, alleging he and co-conspirators traveled to the Middle East seeking training, discussed attacking a shopping center, and distributed videos promoting holy war.

Tarek Mehanna, 27, from Sudbury, Massachusetts, was arrested at his home on Wednesday morning, officials said.

"Mehanna and the co-conspirators had multiple conversations about obtaining automatic weapons and randomly shooting people in a shopping mall, and that the conversations went so far as to discuss the logistics of a mall attack, including coordination, weapons needed and the possibility of attacking emergency responders," the U.S. Justice Department said.

Mehanna had been previously indicted in January 2009 for making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other officials in connection with a terrorism investigation, the Justice Department said in a news release.

Prosecutors allege that from 2001 to 2008 Mehanna conspired with a man named Ahmad Abousamra and others in an attempt to kill, kidnap or injure people in the United States.

The charges accuse Mehanna and co-conspirators of talking about their desire to participate in Islamist holy war and to die on the battlefield. The case was based partly on information from two unnamed people described as cooperating witnesses.

Both Mehanna and Abousamra are believed to be U.S. citizens and Abousamra fled the country for Syria in 2006 after federal officials attempted to question him, acting U.S. Attorney Michael Loucks told a news conference in Boston.

Mehanna was arrested about a year ago before boarding a plane at Logan International Airport in Boston and was later released on bail.

Loucks said Mehanna's arrest on Wednesday was unrelated to President Barack Obama's planned visit to Boston this weekend.

The case comes less than a month after an Afghan-born man, Najibullah Zazi, was accused of plotting a bomb attack against the United States.

Authorities say Zazi took a bomb-making course at an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, had bomb-making notes on his laptop computer and acquired bomb-making materials similar to those used in the 2005 London attacks.

Attorney General Eric Holder has called that plot one of the most serious security threats to the United States since the September 11, 2001, attacks. Zazi, an Afghan immigrant and permanent U.S. resident, was indicted last month on a charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held in prison without bail.

At a preliminary hearing on his case in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, Mehanna did not enter a plea. Speaking to reporters afterward his lawyer, J.W. Carney, did not say how his client would plead.

Mehanna, who has pleaded not guilty to the previous charges against him, was led into a courtroom in handcuffs, wearing a full beard and a black sweatshirt. When Judge Leo Sorokin suggested Mehanna stand up, he snapped back that "I prefer not to." After his father urged him to stand, Mehanna rose to his feet briskly and knocked his chair over, then stood with his hands in his pockets for the rest of the short hearing.

An FBI affidavit on the case says Mehanna and Abousamra came to know Daniel Maldonado, a New Hampshire man now serving a 10-year sentence for getting al Qaeda military training.

According to the government, an unnamed cooperating witness approached Maldonado seeking automatic weapons for a possible attack that Mehanna and Abousamra were planning against an unnamed shopping mall in which they would "randomly shoot people."

But Maldonado said he would be able to obtain only handguns and Mehanna and Abousamra abandoned the plan, a court filing states.

At another point, in 2003, Mehanna, Abousamra and the unnamed cooperating witness discussed whether they could shoot or kill members of the U.S. executive branch, a court filing states. Loucks said U.S. officials were never directly endangered by this (Reuters, 2009).

Title: Surviving Disaster: Mall Shooting  
Date: November 14, 2009
Source: SPIKE

 A highly trained terrorist cell takes over a crowded mall in a military style siege. Navy SEAL Cade Courtley shows you how to survive a firefight using SEAL Team tactics and take on this well armed enemy (SPIKE, 2009).    

Title: Mall of America Practices Emergency Lockdown Drill
November 28, 2009
 National Terror Alert (DHS)

Abstract: The Mall of America security team will be doing monthly lockdown drills to ensure they are ready if and when trouble strikes. They had their first drill earlier this week, shortly after the mall opened.

This exercise and approach to preparedness is one that I’m hoping other shopping mall managers across the country will take notice of and consider adopting.

Last month you might recall, Spike TV’s Surviving Disaster, featured an episode on  how to survive and escape an active shooting by a group of terrorists in a shopping mall (National Terror Alert (DHS), 2009)


Palestinian Gets 10 Years For Mall Attack 
Date: January 15, 2010
Source: Jerusalem Post 

Danish court sentences immigrant convicted of 5 counts of attempted murder in 2008 shooting attack. 

A Palestinian immigrant to Denmark who wounded two Israelis in a shopping-mall shooting allegedly motivated by the IDF's Gaza operation has been convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Wissam Freijeh fired shots with a handgun at a stand selling Israeli hair products in the Dec. 31, 2008, attack in Odense.

His lawyer said the 28-year-old Danish citizen was provoked by Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in late 2008, but did not intend to kill anyone.

The Odense court on Friday found Freijeh guilty of five counts of attempted murder because there were five people at the stand when he opened fire. 

Two Israeli employees were injured, while a third employee and two Danish customers escaped unharmed.

It was not immediately clear whether Freijeh would appeal Friday's ruling (Jeruslame Post, 2010)

Title: Terror At The Mall?
January 24, 2010
American Thinker

Abstract: The shopping malls of America will be among the next major terrorist targets.

Malls make such obvious high-value targets that it's difficult to grasp why they haven't been hit up until now. Shopping malls are America's marketplaces, constantly packed with people, with uncontrolled entry, and openly vulnerable to any given form of attack. We need only consider the darkest days of the Iraqi terror campaign of 2006-2007 to grasp how the jihadis view marketplaces. Scarcely a week went by without another Iraqi marketplace bombing, with casualties largely consisting of women and children, mounting from the dozens to the hundreds. We need only add the fact that the mall in many ways symbolizes the United States to people across the world, acting as kind of American Horn of Plenty, to see the inevitability of the threat. Such attacks will come, and they will be ugly.

It's not as if the jihadis haven't tried. In late 2003, Nuradin Abdi, a Somali native, was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky while in the midst of plans to attack a mall in Columbus, Ohio. Abdi was closely associated with al-Qaeda member Iyman Faris, arrested for planning a bombing of the Brooklyn Bridge. (A personal side note: Two weeks after 9/11, I was in Columbus itself, speaking to acquaintances about what I'd seen in lower Manhattan. "Well, at least they'll never attack us here," one of them said. "I wouldn't be too sure of that," I told him. "If I were an educated terrorist, I'd be very interested in hitting a town called Columbus.")

Late last year, Tarek Mehanna of Sudbury, Massachusetts was arrested for, among other things, conspiring with Ahmad Abousamra and Daniel Maldonado to attack unidentified malls with automatic weapons. (Abousamra and Maldonado, who had received training in al-Qaeda camps, were evidently already in custody).

On at least two occasions in 2004 and 2007, the FBI circulated warnings of potential mall attacks during the holiday season, when they would present what is known as a "target-rich environment." The 2004 warning involved a mall in central Los Angeles, while the later incident involved malls in both L.A. and Chicago. While no attacks occurred, it remains unknown how far jihadi plans were actually taken.

In Europe, the action has been even hotter. Last week, a Palestinian named Wissam Freijeh was sentenced to ten years for shooting up a Danish mall on December 31, 2008. Freijeh's target was a kiosk selling Israeli products. Two people were injured.

So malls have definitely been on the jihadis' minds. Why no more than one-off attacks? If malls were such an obvious target, wouldn't they have been hit before this? Counter-terror specialists are convinced (as was ably expressed here by Bruce Hoffman) that after a lengthy hiatus recovering from the losses sustained during the Bush years, the jihadis have emerged with a new strategy. This could be called the "wasp" strategy, a method well-known to guerrilla fighters and special-operations forces. Rather than concentrate on massive operations of the 9/11 type, Islamist terrorists will instead carry out endless pinprick attacks, much as a swarm of wasps might harry an elephant (so okay, we'll make it a rhino), maddening the beast to a point where it finally plunges off a cliff. The Fort Hood attack, the Underwear Kid, and the Afghanistan CIA bombing act as evidence of just such a strategy. And there we might well have our answer: the jihadis may have put the malls aside to wait for a moment such as this, when a series of attacks would pay off the most.

How would such attacks occur? As with all Islamist efforts, the goal will be to account for the highest number of casualties in the most horrific manner possible. With this in mind, the first scenario that arises is the truck bomb. With their broad parking lots, enabling a vehicle to build up a high terminal velocity, and their wide glass entrances, malls almost appear to have been designed for this style of attack. The truck payload could be conventional explosives, or in the case of a stolen tanker truck, a supernapalm mixture. (Some readers have understandably protested over my providing the actual formula for supernapalm the last time I dealt with the topic, so we'll elide that this time.) In either case, the casualty level would be appalling, the images horrifying, and the impact impossible to negate. While some malls and shopping complexes have blocked their entrances with concrete barriers or planters, many others have ignored this cheap and simple safeguard. All such establishments should be encouraged to emplace such obstacles as soon as possible.

A secondary threat is the bomb vest, which we most recently saw deployed against a CIA unit in Afghanistan. While not as destructive as the vehicle bomb, the bomb vest has probably claimed more victims overall. It was a favored weapon for striking the markets of Iraq, and as the CIA assassination clearly reveals, it remains extremely effective. Countermeasures could be difficult. In Iraq, the jihadis showed no hesitation in utilizing small children, the retarded, and even animals in carrying out bomb attacks. A coatroom in which heavy coats and other items could be checked could aid in curtailing such attacks. But this leaves us with the problem of large handbags, baby carriages, and packages. Eventually, it may be necessary to adopt the Israeli practice of bag searches and metal detectors.

A related method would involve nerve gas, as successfully used by the Aum Shinryko cult to strike the Tokyo subway system in 1995. The Tokyo attacks killed twelve people and wounded several dozen others. A supply of atropine injectors, the standard first aid for nerve-gas poisoning, should be stored in each mall's pharmacy or medical clinic -- no rarity today in malls across the country.

Finally, we reach the trusty firearm, the easiest threat to smuggle in, and in some ways the hardest to deal with. Mall security is almost exclusively unarmed, with little training in dealing with firearm threats. While some large malls feature police substations, most rely on a warning system to call in the police in the event of an emergency. A well-armed jihadi death squad could cause considerable loss of life before local police could respond, and they might conceivably escape to strike elsewhere. Perhaps the most effective tactic would be to come in through one entrance, race through the mall firing at all available targets, and exit through another entrance where a car or van would be waiting with engine running. It's difficult to see how any official countermeasure short of a police tactical squad could handle this type of attack.

What defensive measures have been taken by mall operators? Apart from the previously mentioned entrance barriers, next to nothing. Security experts have suggested a number of cheap countermeasures, such as utilizing transparent trash buckets to prevent use by bombers, but in large part, these have not been taken up. The general response of owners and operators has been a claim that "no credible threat" to malls has been demonstrated, much the same attitude that preceded the 9/11 attack, but with much less in the way of excuse.

No small number of malls have gone out of their way to increase their vulnerability through participation in the "gun-free zone" movement.  In 1990, Congress, in what many observers consider to have been an incremental attempt at a national firearms ban, passed a "Gun Free School Zones" act as part of that year's Crime Control bill. The law forbade ownership or possession of a firearm, apart from strictly limited conditions, anywhere within a thousand feet of a school or related institution. The attempt was ill-fated, being overturned by the Supreme Court and then reinstated in a thoroughly unenforceable form.

Congressional meddling triggered a kind of low-key craze among schools and other institutions -- including malls -- in which administrations eagerly adapted the "gun-free" pledge, often ostentatiously announcing it with signs containing menacing threats against anyone caught with a gun.

As a result, school shootings, a rarity prior to the '90s, became a commonplace. "Gun-free zones" served to attract armed loons the way that honey attracts bears. Firearms-affairs specialist John R. Lott, Jr. has gone on record to state that every major recent shooting has occurred in a declared gun-free area. This includes Virginia Tech, where in September 2007 an insane undergraduate murdered over thirty students.

Malls have not been immune. Mall shootings, unheard of before the "gun-free" movement, are today no rarity. They have occurred in recent years at Kingston, N.Y.; Tacoma, Washington; Kansas City, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska; and Salt Lake City, Utah. In each case, the "gun-free" policy was in place and widely advertised.

We can assume that jihadi terrorists are as well-informed as the average American psychotic. "Gun-free" malls are simply informing our enemies where the easiest targets can be found. These malls will be the first ones hit.

As is often the case with the P.C. crowd, the exact opposite action would produce the desired results. In the Salt Lake City incident of February 12, 2007, a gunman entered the mall with the intention of shooting shoppers at random. Fortunately, an off-duty policeman, Keith Hammond, had also disobeyed the anti-gun admonition. The shooter had already shot nine and killed five when Hammond brought him under fire and held him at bay until responding officers ended the attack by killing the gunman.

Salt Lake City reveals the solution to the mall terror problem. It is clear that the best method of negating the threat would be to enlist customers themselves in defending and protecting their malls. Operators and owners should meet with qualified locals -- ex-police officers and soldiers in particular -- to set up an armed patrol system. Local police cooperation would be necessary to assure proper training and liaison. The goal would be to have one or more patrols present at all times during opening hours. A communications system could be established (no real challenge in the age of the cell phone), both to assure regular contact and to alert members of potential threats. Regular mall security would continue handling everyday problems. By such a means we could avoid a terror-related Virginia Tech, Salt Lake City, or, for that matter, Fort Hood.

Another possibility would be to organize and train mall workers who own guns, assuring that their firearms would be available at work in case of an emergency. While many retail franchises and chains have strict rules against interfering with criminal activities (workers are supposed to wait for the cops), certainly this should be set aside in dealing with terror attempts.

There's little hope of such concepts being put into effect under prevailing conditions. Experience teaches us that P.C. notions of the "gun-free" variety are the hardest weeds to dig up once they've taken root. But it is undeniable that the "bureaucratic" strategy of meeting the terror threat -- Homeland Defense, a centralized National Intelligence Directorate, and so forth -- has proven to be an abject failure. The latest attacks over Detroit, at Fort Hood, and in Afghanistan occurred because the oversized bureaucracies had been put in place, creating a system of endless filters to prevent urgent and necessary information from getting where it was needed. The federal government has merely provided a larger rhino to be stung by jihadi attacks.

On the other hand, all three failed airliner attacks were prevented by the passengers themselves, with no help from air marshals, anti-terror specialists, or Homeland Security bureaucrats. (We're counting Flight 93 here as a defeat for terror -- the attack was curtailed, even though the heroic passengers lost their lives doing it.) In the end, it's the individuals on the spot who make the difference. Even the hapless Janet Napolitano has admitted that passengers comprise the last line of defense.

To combat a swarm of wasps, you don't call up a herd of rhinos. You gather a lot of people with rolled-up newspapers. At this point, our efforts against terror are reactive -- we may well have to endure a mall attack, with casualties possibly reaching the hundreds, before the federal government is forced to rethink its approach. When the time comes, the alternative strategy must be considered. With the American people, this country has a resource unparalleled across the wide world. It's about time we put it to use (American Thinker, 2010).

Title: Dry Run For Nuclear Terror Medics At Mall 
 July 14, 2010
Yorkshire Post

Abstract: Fire crews and hospital staff carried out an exercise in Barnsley yesterday to test the emergency response to a terrorist attack in South Yorkshire.

The scenario was that a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) device had exploded in the Meadowhall shopping centre and crowds of people with radiation burns needed to be treated.

Volunteers were showered in "decontamination" tents at Barnsley Hospital before being allowed in the hospital's emergency department.

Mike Lees, head of emergency planning at Barnsley Hospital, said: "Exercises like this are all about gaining experience for the future, for the time when we have to deal with real, large-scale emergencies" (Yorkshire Post, 2010).  


 Mall Of America Adopts See Something Say Something Campaign

December 2, 2010
National Terror Alert (DHS)

Abstract: Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, in partnership with Mall of America and the state of Minnesota, today applauded the expansion of DHS’ national “If You See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign throughout Minnesota—to include Mall of America as well as other public venues across the state.

“We are excited to partner with Mall of America and the Department of Homeland Security on their ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign,” said Commissioner Campion. “We value our private partners and the work they do. Their efforts will go a long way to enhancing our statewide ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign.”

The state-wide expansion of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign will begin in Minneapolis and St. Paul and will leverage Minnesota’s participation in the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative—an administration effort to train state and local law enforcement to recognize behaviors and indicators related to specific terrorist threats and related crime.

Since this summer, DHS has worked with its state, local and private sector partners, as well as the Department of Justice, to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign and Nationwide SAR Initiative to communities throughout the country—including the recent state-wide expansion of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign throughout New Jersey and new partnerships with organizations including the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), Amtrak, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the general aviation industry and six state and local fusion centers across the Southeastern United States that participate in Southern Shield.

In the coming months, the Department will continue to expand the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign nationally with public education materials and outreach tools designed to engage America’s businesses, communities and citizens to remain vigilant and  play an active role in keeping the county safe (National Terror Alert (DHS), 2011).


Title: Israeli Counters Terror At Mall Of America
Date: February 2, 2011
Source: American Jewish World

Abstract: Michael Rozin, an Israeli security expert who came to Minneapolis in 2005, is happy to explain his business.

“Whether it’s a terrorist attack or a criminal act, there are two main factors that play a role,” he says. “One is intent, the other is means.”

Traditionally in the United States, according to Rozin, when it comes to protection from terrorist incidents, the focus has been on detecting the means, or the weapon. He rattles off the sequence: Shoe bomber — we take off our shoes. Plot to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight using liquid explosives — restrictions on liquids. Now, with the underwear bomber, body scanners and pat downs.

“In Israel,” he says, “we learned that detecting the weapon is important, yes; but this is not the solution because the terrorists are very creative and innovative guys, and they learn how to overcome all the technological solutions that you invent to try to detect the bomb. Yet one thing that they cannot conceal is the intent. We address the intent.”

Rozin is currently employed at the Mall of America, where his title is special operations security captain. He recently was featured in the TLC cable show Mall Cops: Mall of America, which showed him training MOA security officers.

In charge of terrorism prevention at MOA since 2005, Rozin employs a system there that is based on behavior detection methods that were developed in Israel.

In part because of a cohort of Israelis like Rozin — military veterans and security experts who have parlayed their experience into a successful industry in the U.S. — these methods are now being used here at a number of major facilities and law enforcement agencies.

Rozin himself has branched out, deciding in 2009 to start his own company, Rozin Security Consulting, LLC. He now lists among his clients the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, Metro Transit, divisions of both Twin Cities police departments and, in partnership with another consulting firm, the Public Building Commission of Chicago.

In Israel, Rozin served in an Israel Defense Forces border infantry unit. The Hebrew name of the unit translates as Stinger, named for the Stinger missiles they carried. Literally carried, Rozin adds, on their backs, “whereas in the United States usually they use vehicles for that purpose.”

This distinction in a way gets to the heart of what some analysts say is a recurring problem with U.S. security strategy, that it tends to lurch instinctively toward the high-tech solution. Stingers are the light but deadly heat-seeking missiles that the Reagan administration shipped in large numbers to Islamic fighters in Afghanistan during the 1980s. They enabled a single mujahid (Muslim guerilla fighter) on foot to shoot down a helicopter, and some argue they were the decisive factor in turning back the Soviets. Military historians might see some irony in the fact that Stingers also showed up on the backs of Israeli border units.

After serving in the IDF, Rozin went to work for the Israeli Airports Authority at Ben-Gurion International Airport. There he was involved in both training and operations, under the oversight of Shin Bet.

In Israel, as visitors to the country soon find out, airport security includes a simple low-tech procedure. Someone looks you in the eye and politely asks a few questions that manage to get right into your business.

The situation at the Mall of America, however, differs in major ways from Ben-Gurion Airport. There are no checkpoints, and during the busiest holiday shopping days the number of visitors could approach 200,000, while a busy day at Ben-Gurion might see 60,000.

Still, the basic principles are adaptable, according to Rozin. “We train our officers, first, to detect behavior indicators that can indicate potential harmful intent. Then, once such indicators are detected, to conduct what are called security interviews, built to determine whether a person does or does not pose a threat to our environment.”

Rozin also trains non-security personnel, from human resources to maintenance and ride operators, in maintaining vigilance and recognizing suspicious behavior. “You have to create a culture of security,” he says.

Rozin came to the United States in 2005, to Minneapolis. Why? A good question, he says, with a nod to the blustery weather outside his window.

“The reason is really my wife. She is from here. We met in Israel and throughout my work for the Israeli Airport Authority, we dated. We got engaged, and at some point I decided to try it out here. She is the main reason. Despite the cold she is worth it.”

Rozin’s wife, Kathryn Rozin, is managing director of Rozin Security Consulting. In addition, the company has three employees, “with backgrounds similar to mine,” Rozin says.

Rozin anticipates no shortage of work.

“I think that the threat of terrorism in the United States is going to become an unfortunate part of American life” (American Jewish World, 2011)

Title: DATABASE: Mall Of America Suspicious Activity Reports
Date: June 23, 2011
Source: NPR

NPR News Investigations and the Center for Investigative Reporting analyzed 125 reports totaling more than 1,000 pages on shoppers and incidents at Mall of America that mall security personnel and local police identified as suspicious persons or activities potentially related to terrorism. The documents included personal information on the subjects, as well as detailed incident narratives written by mall security guards or local police officers or personnel at Minnesota's state fusion center. Indications of whether the cases were forwarded to the FBI, Joint Terrorism Task Force, Minnesota Joint Analysis Center or Immigration and Customs Enforcement were also provided. The database below provides NPR's summaries of the narratives, incident locations and whether the incident involved the taking of photos or videos, which was a common theme. In addition, NPR analyzed the identification of persons by race or ethnic group (NPR, 2011).

Title: US Malls Brace For Terrorist Attacks
August 7, 2011
Source: ABC News

A janitor spots an abandoned diaper bag lying on a table in the sprawling food court at the Mall of America. A bomb-sniffing dog and a security officer are there within minutes, examining the package while nearby shoppers are held a safe distance away.

No bomb. Case closed. But that scene is repeated at the nation's largest shopping center 150 times a month.

Years ago, lost purses or shopping bags would just go to the lost and found. But after the Sept. 11 attacks and a series of terror threats against malls, "we realized that bad guys don't write 'explosives' on the side of packages," said Maj. Douglas Reynolds.

He heads a 150-officer security force trained in Krav Maga, the official self-defense system of Israeli security forces. A plainclothes unit is solely devoted to behavioral profiling.

Terror threats against U.S. malls — federal authorities have charged suspects in at least three terror plots since the Sept. 11 attacks — have made huge behind-the-scenes changes to one of the most treasured American experiences — going to the mall.

Shoppers say they hardly notice the closed-circuit cameras, plainclothes officers and trained dogs, and believe the risk of getting attacked at a shopping center is remote.

"The average shopper, they don't walk in and think 'this could be the end,' " said Don Heinzman, 77, of Elk River, Minn., having coffee with two friends at the Minnesota mall.

But overseas, especially in places like Israel and Turkey, terror attacks in malls occur with frightening regularity. Experts are worried that similar acts will eventually become commonplace in the U.S. In 2004, an anonymous call threatening a Los Angeles plot sent more than 100 officers to protect various shopping centers.

Two Ohio men — originally from Somalia and Pakistan — are serving prison terms in a 2003 threat to bomb Columbus-area malls. Another suspect is serving a prison term for a similar plot against a mall 90 miles north of Chicago. A Massachusetts pharmacist is awaiting trial on terror charges; prosecutors said he conspired with others to shoot down shoppers in U.S. malls and kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

In a 2006 report, the nonprofit RAND Corporation think tank found that there were 60 shopping mall attacks in 21 countries between 1998 and 2005 and that U.S. malls may not be well-prepared for them.

The International Council of Shopping Centers trained some 10,000 mall officers between 2003 and 2009 to better recognize terrorists and other threats. Experts at George Washington University designed the $3 million program, which was discontinued because of a lack of funding.

Paul Maniscalco, a senior research scientist at the university who was involved in developing the program, called shopping malls "soft targets."

"I think they're as safe as any place else in the U.S.," he said. "Unfortunately in an open and free democratic society there's certain trade-offs. The concept of a shopping center is a pretty complex social icon within our society. You can't turn them into armed camps."

Malachy Kavanagh, the spokesman for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said the latest threat to public places in the U.S. is not from organized terrorist groups, but "lone wolf" individuals.

"A big part is to be aware of who may be watching your center," he said. Officers have to watch for people trying to engage guards in conversation, checking for security cameras, he said.

Reynolds said his officers need to cultivate a balance between securing a center and cultivating an open, family-friendly atmosphere (shoppers at the Mall of America can stop to ride rollercoasters at the mall's in-house amusement park).

"We're not designed to be Fort Knox," said Reynolds. "We need to be accessible and make people feel welcome — but still protected."

Christine Kimbrough 66, of Upper Marlboro, Md., stopped to look at a tall metal monument that resembles two doorways and a door.

The somber monument is a tribute to Bloomington resident Tom Burnett Jr., a passenger on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001.

Kimbrough read the monument's plaque and shook her head.

"You're always on alert," she said. "You have to be now."

Reynolds hopes shoppers think like Kimbrough. With 4.2 million square feet of space and more than 20,000 parking spots, it's difficult for his officers to see everything. He's instituted the so-called "RAM Unit" — short for Risk Assessment and Mitigation — which is a team of plainclothes officers who perform behavior profiling and who look for suspicious objects.

His officers don't carry guns but can make citizens' arrests under Minnesota law. There haven't been any terror arrests; most calls are about shoplifters, missing children and abandoned packages. Occasionally, the officers will confront a drunk and rowdy customer.

Reynolds said his officers must also be on the alert not just for terrorists, but for volatile workplace or domestic arguments that could result in a mass shooting.

The mall has a control center where dispatchers monitor 12 closed-circuit televisions and field the 120,000 calls for service each year.

Nearby, the bomb-sniffing dogs are in a separate office. Reynolds explained that he's transitioning from tough-looking Belgian Malinois dogs (similar to German Shepherds) to English Springer Spaniels and flat-coated retrievers, so that the dogs are perceived by shoppers as less aggressive and police-like.

"These dogs break hearts all day," he said, while patting Chuck, a four-year-old black and white spaniel.

If the client-friendly tactics sound like something out of Disney, that's because they are.

Reynolds has visited Orlando to learn from security experts there, and even uses some phrases similar to Disney's security force.

Officers who are patrolling the mall are "on stage," and inside the training room, there's a large word above the door that leads to the mall: "SHOWTIME" (ABC News, 2011).


Title: Police Stop Man Attempting To Ignite Fireworks From Jeep At National Mall
 August 23, 2011
Source: Fox News

AbstractA Florida man is under arrest after police say he intended to ignite a large amount of fireworks at the National Mall in Washington, MyFoxDC.com reported Tuesday.

The arrested was made Monday night at the Cabin John Regional Park in Bethesda, Md.

An officer spotted a red jeep Cherokee stopped in an isolated area of the park after it was closed.

The officer made contact with the driver, who was identified as 27-year-old Glenn Neff of Stuart, Fla., and found the vehicle to be loaded with fireworks. The Jeep had also been fitted with a turret and multiple PVC tubes from which fireworks could be shot out of.

Police said Neff told them he didn't want to hurt anyone and wanted to ignite the fireworks on the National Mall to draw attention to himself and issues he had with the banking industry.

Officers also said they located drug paraphernalia and alcohol inside his vehicle.

The Montgomery County Fire and Explosive investigators rendered the devices safe on the scene.

The Joint Terrorism Task Force was notified and responded as well.

Neff has been taken into custody and charges are pending (Fox News, 2011)

Title: Under Suspicion At The Mall Of America
Date: September 7, 2011
Source: NPR

Abstract: Since Sept. 11, the nation's leaders have warned that government agencies like the CIA and the FBI can't protect the country on their own — private businesses and ordinary citizens have to look out for terrorists, too. So the Obama administration has been promoting programs like "See Something, Say Something" and the "Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative."


Under programs like these, public attractions such as sports stadiums, amusement parks and shopping malls report suspicious activities to law enforcement agencies. But an investigation by NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting suggests that at one of the nation's largest shopping malls, these kinds of programs are disrupting innocent people's lives.

One afternoon three years ago, Francis Van Asten drove to the Mall of America, near Minneapolis, and started recording. First he filmed driving to the mall. Then he filmed a plane landing at the nearby airport, and then he strolled inside the mall and kept recording as he walked. He says he was taking a video to send to his fiancee in Vietnam.

As he started filming, he didn't realize that he was about to get caught up in America's war on terrorism — the mall had formed its own private counterterrorism unit in 2005. And now, a security guard had been tailing Van Asten since before he entered the mall. Van Asten was first approached by a guard outside a clothing store.

"And he asked me what I was doing. And I said, 'Oh, I'm making a video.' And I said, 'Are we allowed to make videos in Mall of America, and take pictures and stuff?' He says, 'Oh sure, nothing wrong with that,' " explains Van Asten. "So I turn to start walking away, and then he started asking me questions. Why am I making a video, what am I making a video of, what I did for a living, and he asked me, what's my hobbies?"

The guard called another member of the mall's security unit, and they questioned Van Asten for almost an hour before summoning two police officers from the Bloomington Police Department.

"I hadn't done anything wrong. I wasn't doing anything wrong, according to them even. I asked the policeman why I was being detained," says Van Asten. "He said, 'Listen, mister, we can do this any way you want: the easy way or the hard way.' "

And then, the police took Van Asten down to a police substation in the mall's basement.

Counterterrorism At The Mall

The Department of Homeland Security has been using public service announcements to ask Americans and private businesses to stay vigilant.

"I think our name first of all, Mall of America, is attractive to people that want to hurt America," says Maureen Bausch, vice president of the Mall of America. She says at least 100,000 people visit the mall on a typical day.

"We are definitely the No. 1 attraction in Minnesota, one of the biggest attractions in the United States," she says. "So the government officials have asked us always, since 9/11, to be on the watch."

The mall calls its counterterrorism unit RAM, or Risk Assessment and Mitigation. The unit is staffed with private security personnel.

Bausch wouldn't say in detail how this unit identifies people like Van Asten as potential terrorists, but documents obtained by NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting provide some insight. NPR and CIR asked 29 law enforcement agencies across the country to give us suspicious activity reports from attractions in their areas – everything from amusement parks to baseball stadiums. We asked under state versions of the Freedom of Information Act. The only officials who responded were in Minnesota: They sent us 125 reports that involved suspicious activities at the Mall of America. One of those reports that the Mall sent to local police is on Francis Van Asten.

According to the 18-page report on Van Asten, the mall's RAM unit thought he was "very suspicious" because he kept filming as he walked. He didn't start and stop like most people do. Van Asten says that's true. He wanted to convey the experience of going to the mall. The counterterrorism unit thought he might be mapping an attack.

The report tells how the Bloomington police officers took Van Asten to a police substation in the basement in the Mall of America after mall security questioned him. They frisked him. They seized his camera. They detained him in that room for one more hour. The police called the Joint Terrorism Task Force. And an FBI agent told them: Seize the memory card in Van Asten's camera and delete all his videos.

After two hours they let him go. Van Asten says he loves this country. Back when he was in the Army, he worked at a nuclear missile site. But he says that afternoon at the Mall of America shook him.

"When I was finally released, I couldn't find my way to my own car for over a half-hour. I sat down in my car and I cried and I was shaking like a leaf."

Ordinary Behavior Triggers Reports

The documents from the Mall of America suggest that sometimes, the RAM unit gets suspicious about things you'd probably notice, too — like a pair of unattended suitcases. But much of the time the security guards report people for seemingly ordinary behavior.

Mall security reported one man because he was sitting on a bench in the corridor, "observing others while writing things down on a note pad." They worried he might be a terrorist "conducting surveillance." Turned out he was a musician waiting for a friend. Three security guards surrounded another man because they thought he was looking at them "oddly" and walking "nervously" through the amusement park; he turned out to be an insurance company manager, shopping for a watch for his son.

"I'm not real sure I'd go to the mall. I mean they might accuse me of being a terrorist," says Dale Watson, who used to run the counterterrorism program at the FBI.

After reading some of Mall of America's suspicious activity reports he pushed them away.

"I mean, if somebody's in buying ammonia nitrate out in Pennsylvania in a rural place, in a rental truck, you know, and the owner's never seen them before, putting in plastic barrels, I'd say yeah, that's a suspicious activity, they should be reported," he says. "The value of what I've seen here is absolutely not worth the effort."

A Missing Cellphone

Yet look what happened when Najam Qureshi's father came under suspicion at the Mall of America.

Najam Qureshi was born in Pakistan, but he's been a U.S. citizen since he was a teenager. Today, he manages computer systems for a major company near Minneapolis. He and his family live on a pretty suburban street.

In January 2007, an FBI agent showed up on his doorstep. It turned out that a few weeks before, Qureshi's father had left his cellphone on a table in the Mall of America's food court. When the mall's counterterrorism unit saw the unattended phone, plus someone else's cooler and stroller, guards cordoned off the area. Qureshi's father wandered back, looking for his phone, and the RAM unit interrogated him and then reported him to the Bloomington police. In turn, the police reported the incident to the FBI. The documents we obtained show that the mall's reports went to state and federal law enforcement, in roughly half the cases. The incident with Qureshi's father led the FBI to want to question Qureshi himself, in his own home.

"He asked me if I knew anybody in Afghanistan. And that was kind of like, what?! And, then he asked me if I had any friends in Pakistan," Qureshi says.

The FBI also asked him if he knew anybody that would try to hurt the U.S. government, according to Qureshi.

"My reaction in my mind, was, 'How dare this guy in my house, come in and say this,' " he recalls.

But mall officials stand by their program of identifying suspicious people.

"You're talking about a handful of people that are complaining, out of the 750 million plus that have been through these doors since 1992," Bausch says. "And we apologize if it, you know, if it caused them any inconvenience, I mean we really do."

"Unfortunately the world has changed," says Bausch. "We assume you'd want your family and friends to be safe if they are in the building. And we simply noticed something that we didn't think was right."

A commander with the Bloomington police said these reports would be kept on file for decades. When Qureshi found out that the 11-page report reading "suspicious person" would be kept that long, his eyes filled with tears.

"It shattered an image of the U.S. that I had, fundamentally. I don't know, especially when I saw some of these reports. It's definitely bothersome, how small things can just, you know, trickle up that quickly, and all of a sudden you're labeled. And once you're labeled, you're basically messed up, right?"

Do Suspicious Activity Reports Keep Us Safer?

John Cohen, who helps run the counterterrorism programs at the Department of Homeland Security, says the suspicious activity reports have already made America safer.

"One recent example is the case of Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber. Where a suspicious activity report ... helped lead to the identification of the individual who tried to commit the Times Square bombing," Cohen says. Other counterterrorism specialists discount that example, since the report did not help prevent an attack: It was luck that the car bomb didn't explode.

Juliette Kayyem, a former counterterrorism adviser to the governor of Massachusetts and an assistant secretary at the Homeland Security Department until last year, says she doesn't know of any cases in which suspicious activity reporting led to the apprehension of a terrorist.

"From these reports [from the Mall of America], these are security officials who appear to be simply approaching people for very innocuous-seeming behavior," she says. "There's not a huge amount of quality control."

Watson, the former FBI counterterrorism chief, says he believes people have been "in a rush to get involved in the war on terrorism."

"I see a pattern here where American citizens are being suspected of something without any of the legal standards," Watson says. "If that'd been one of my brothers that was stopped in a mall, I'd be furious about it, if I thought the police department had a file on him, an information file, about his activities in the mall, without any reasonable suspicion to investigate."

Over the decades, court decisions have spelled out detailed rules: When can a policeman stop you? Search you? When can the police detain you? Watson says those reports from the Mall of America suggest that suspicious activity reporting programs could push the country in the wrong direction.

"To heck with the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Let's just stop all of this stuff. OK. So, if I'm driving down the street and I'm a police officer, if I want to stop you, I'll just stop you. Or if I see you wearing a red coat, maybe I'll think you're a Communist, in the old Communist days. So I'll take you to jail and hold you for 24 hours. That is not what we are," he says (NPR, 2011).


Title: 'Emergency' Planned For Denver On Friday 
Date: September 21, 2011
Source: Denver Business Journal 

 Expect some loud noises, smoke and a lot of emergency vehicles Friday in and around Denver.

Operation Mountain Guardian, a terrorism-based, full-scale emergency exercise, happens Friday at four primary locations — including Union Station — and six secondary locations.

Operations begin at 5 a.m. and are scheduled to wrap up by 4:30 p.m.

Organizers are warning the exercise will include simulated weapons as well as planned responses from 101 military, police, fire and hospital organizations.

Other locations included in the event are: Park Meadows Mall; Smedley Elementary School; the Lowry campus of the Community College of Aurora; Denver International Airport; Sky Ridge Medical Center; Denver Health Medical Center; University of Colorado Hospital; Catholic Charities in northwest Denver and Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

Money for most of the operation comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Colorado Governor’s Office of Homeland Security (Denver Business Journal, 2011)

Title: Security Under Fire: Mall Of America's Security Director Doug Reynolds Speaks 
Date: September 27, 2011
Source: Security Director News 

Abstract: Earlier this month, NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting published several stories that accused security at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., of racial profiling and supplying "intelligence spam" to local, state and federal law enforcement. The reports were based on suspicious activity reports filed by the mall's own behavior detection officers with local and state law enforcement.

Mall of America's security director Doug Reynolds was not interviewed for the NPR and CIR stories, but he took the opportunity to speak with Security Director News about the accusations of racial profiling and the mall's behavior detection officers, part of its Risk Assessment and Mitigation counterterrorism group.

Below, Reynolds, an Army veteran, who started at the mall in 1996 as a part-time dispatcher and worked his way up to become security director in 2006, tells SDN how he helped develop the Mall’s security program over the last decade, and why he believes it should be a model for other retail outlets in North America. Further, he discusses how he believes NPR reporters missed the mark in their reporting of the story.


The following interview has been edited for length and clarity:

Give me a brief overview of the security system at Mall of America.

Reynolds: We see approximately 42 million people a year go through our doors, and as director of security I'm responsible for maintaining safety and order in that environment ... We have traditional security,  uniformed patrol presence ...  along the way we've also invested a lot of money in additional training for our patrol officers, dispatchers and many other positions ... Many of us within the department have a military background and understand the value of training upfront and that it pays huge dividends. And we will invest eight- to 12-weeks in [training] an individual patrol officer before they ever take a call on their own. That's unusual in the industry.

How did security at Mall of America change after 9/11?

Initially, we closed on Sept. 11 because we didn’t know how widespread the situation was going to be, but we were open on the 12th. We had Mall of America employees at every entrance and in every courtyard for people to see ... That was one of first changes we made. We understood people want to be comfortable and know somebody is there.

We  [also]  started looking at technological solutions. We evaluated [facial recognition] and decided it was not a good fit for us ... We increased our camera coverage by about 20 percent at that time. We started looking at areas that could be or should be controlled and how we were controlling them–restricted access areas, that sort of thing [We rewrote our emergency action plan, and started building our canine team].

Tell me about the mall's Risk Assessment and Mitigation counterterrorism unit.

We looked at different [behavior profiling] programs that were out there and the one we liked was going on at Ben Gurion [International] Airport in Tel Aviv. They didn't always have behavior profiling there. They used to do a different type of profiling, which was racially based. And they had a horrible incident where the [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine] teamed up with a Japanese Red Army group and they came in and conducted a terrorist attack and they weren't looking for people of Japanese descent to conduct an attack. If you're not Middle Eastern they thought you were not a concern. That showed them quickly that that type of profiling doesn't work, that if you are going to do [profiling], it needs to be behavior-based and nothing else. So we looked at that. We brought in a gentleman who has worked at Ben Gurion International Airport doing behavior profiling … to develop a program for Mall of America and he had a concept of how it worked in Israel but I wanted, if you will, to Americanize it. And that's what we did. We started that in 2005.

Tell me about the NPR story and your initial reaction to it.

I had a few initial reactions. It started with NPR teaming up with another group, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and my concern was some of the past articles [from CIR] seemed to be very skewed and did not seem to be very balanced. They seemed to definitely go into it with an agenda. It's hard, when somebody is entrenched in their way of thinking, to believe you're going to be fairly represented.

I knew they had requested this information and that they were going to be looking at our reports because they requested them through the state of Minnesota and through the city of Bloomington. We knew they were going to do this, so when they contacted us about the story, honestly I was not eager to do the story. I wasn't comfortable with the reporter, but that having been said, we’ve always been good about relationships with the media and saying 'hey we have a good program here and we're confident in it.' We don't want to hide the program. We brought this program up in the media on any number of occasions. I testified in front of Congress that this is a good program and this is something the U.S. should look at if they're looking to protect large-scale facilities.

What was your reaction to the final product of their reporting?

Some of the statistics they came up with just didn’t match anything we had and when we tried to correct them they just didn’t seem like they were receptive. Honestly, I have nothing to hide. I am very confidant in the program. We audit it all the time. If you look at how many interviews we did last year–we talked to 1,400 people that came to Mall of America, which may seem like a large number [until] you consider that 42 million people a year come to Mall of America. I think they were making a big deal out of something that is truly not a big deal.

When you look at some of the cases I didn't feel they were fairly representing all the information in those cases. One of the things they did, which I hope readers looked at, was they attached the [suspicious activity] reports. If you read the actual reports that were submitted, you'd see that there are more to them. One example is, [NPR] talked to one gentleman who left his cell phone, and that was the whole [gist] of the story: Why would you talk to somebody who just left their cell phone behind on a table? If you read the report, you find he left a cell phone, two coolers, a box and that he had done this on other occasions. I think that is somebody worth talking to.

The claim NPR and CIR made was that Mall of America's RAM officers were racially profiling. What's your reaction to that?

I think if you look at their own numbers, they don't support some of their documents. We've looked at it: The number one person that we stop out here and talk to is a Caucasian male. That's certainly not racial profiling if it's Caucasian males we talk to most often. That's not by design; that's how the statistics work out.

NPR is a national news outlet and the stories got a fair amount of play in the media. What kind of challenges did that create for security when that type of press comes out with those types of accusations?

The challenge is that we have an obligation to keep guests safe and if we have a good program in place to do that, even when it's being challenged, I need to understand this is a good program, it's there for good reasons and I can't suspend the program or stop it just because someone wrote a biased one-sided article. If the program really has integrity, if it's a good program with good people doing good things, then we're going to continue doing it because at the end of the day there are 42 million people every year counting on us to protect them.

What kind of lessons did you learn as far as being a security director and dealing with the media?

If you are going to be a security director and a leader, you need to look towards your people. So I wanted to make contact with my people right away, and say 'hey, here's what 's coming, here's how we think it's going to be written, here's what we've learned and what we may do differently and I want to let you know we still support what you do,' and ensure them that they did nothing wrong and they were doing exactly what they were trained to do and that we still support that program.

I think the other piece that was important [is] the people we protect, the public, and letting them know why this program exists. We started pitching additional stories to the media. We've been open to doing that for many years but this certainly gave us cause to go out and pitch it more.

What's your advice to other security directors when it comes to dealing with the media? If the media comes calling, should security directors be open to those requests or has this experience made you more wary?

There was a time that by default we didn't talk to the media. And we've really done a 180 with that. The media is a tool. It's a way of getting your message out there. People are going to talk and if you don’t give them the information, they're going to form their own opinions about how things are going, their own assumptions. I would say it's almost always better to talk to the media and get your message out then to ignore them. I was disappointed in the way they chose to write this story. If they wouldn't have come into it with an idea or notion in their head of how it was going to be before the interviews, I think they could have a had a really good story about a program that's successful and should be modeled, I believe, through the rest of the U.S.

Anything else to add?

When we started this program we understood it's not a common program, there are not a lot of entities in the U.S. that do it. So when it was a week old I told my bosses and the ownership that at some point this will be challenged, but the best thing you can do is prepare for that in advance. We kept statistics on who it is we were stopping, we kept detailed reports on why we were interviewing people and that type of thing, with the assumption that some day somebody would want to see that. If you can do that, if you know you have a good program and it's being done for the right reason, then you should be able to provide that information, keep track of it and feel comfortable with it. At the end of the day, if you can put your head down on your pillow and close your eyes comfortably, you know you're doing the right thing (Security Director News, 2011).

Title: Polish Police Arrest 2 In IKEA Bombings In Europe
Date: October 8, 2011
Source: Fox News

Abstract: Polish police say they have arrested and charged two suspects in a series of bomb attacks at IKEA stores in several European countries this year.

The attacks, made with homemade bombs, occurred from May to September in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic. Two people were injured in the German attack but there were no fatalities. Some of the bombs were potentially lethal, though not all detonated.

Andrzej Matejuk, police commander with the Central Bureau of Investigation, said Saturday that two Polish men, both aged 39, were arrested in the case. They were only identified as Mikolaj G. and Adam K. Their full names were not given, in accordance with Polish laws that protect the identities of suspects.

"Significant evidence was gathered on the men which clearly points to their guilt," Matejuk said.

IKEA said it also faced an "extortion threat" after the bombing attacks.

Police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said that both men were charged with endangering the lives of many people, extortion and racketeering and could face up to 10 years in prison.

He said the men were arrested after hundreds of Polish officers worked on the case along with counterparts in the countries where the attacks occurred.

"Because the bomb loads were getting stronger, there was a serious threat to the life and health of many people. Time counted," Sokolowski told the news agency PAP.

Last month, Europol said it believed the attacks were the work of a single man (Fox News, 2011).

Title: Man Threatens To Blow Up Store When Video Game Not In Stock
Date: November 9, 2011
Source: CBS News

Abstract: Employees at a Best Buy in Aurora said a man threatened to blow up the store after he learned a video game he had pre-ordered was not in stock.

The man walked into the Best Buy just after midnight in the 3500 block of N. Salida Court near Interstate 70 and Tower Road.

“The last store I called was the Best Buy by my house and they said okay, we have three copies, two are on reserve and one is here available,” said Lomon Sar. “She charged the card, it was $108… She put my name on the box.”

Police said Sar, 31, went to pick up a hardened copy of the “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ he said he pre-ordered and paid for earlier in the day. When he arrived, it wasn’t there and he became irate and angry at the customer service desk.

“He says what’s your name and starts typing in my name and he couldn’t find anything. The manager deleted me off their system! Like, took me out of the system! Took all my information out of the system everything,” said Sar.

“Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3″ was released at midnight Tuesday.

Police said he asked employees when they were leaving the store and said that he intended to shoot them in the parking lot as they were leaving work. He also allegedly made another statement that involved blowing up the store.

“I put my hand up to my head and said look I’m so pissed right now I could blow this place up right now. That’s how mad I am!,” said Sar.

Sar was issued a summons for misdemeanor disorderly conduct and trespassing.

“Investigating officers issued a criminal summons to a man who threatened to carry out his own version of modern warfare at the electronics store. Fortunately, this situation did not end in violence,” said Aurora Police Detective Bob Friel.

“I didn’t know words can get you in that much trouble but apparently they can,” said Sar.

Sar said Best Buy did refund $108 he paid for the game.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a first-person shooter video game. It is the eighth installment of the Call of Duty series and the third installment of the Modern Warfare series. The game is rated M for mature due to blood and gore, drug references, intense violence and strong language (CBS News, 2011).

Title: Minneapolis-St. Paul To Conduct Large Scale MCM Distribution Test
Date: April 24, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: Approximately 40,000 Minneapolis-St. Paul residents are scheduled to receive an empty pill bottle in their mailboxes on May 6 as part of a test of the area’s bioterrorism emergency antibiotic distribution system.

The empty pill bottle represents the medical countermeasures to be given to the public in the event of a bioterror attack using an airborne agent such as anthrax, according to StarTribune.com.

The drill, named “Operation Medicine Delivery,” is being conducted as a joint effort between the Minnesota Department of Health and the U.S. Postal Service. More than 300 mail carriers are participating in the exercise, which crosses four zip codes and hopes to reach at least 37,000 residences.

In a real emergency, mail carriers would be expected to deliver preventative doses of medication to residents within the first 48 hours of an attack, although much of the distribution effort in that critical time would be carried out through the use of local dispensing sites that would be run by area public health organizations.

The exercise in the Twin Cities will be the first full-scale test of a system that has tried in Boston, Philadelphia and Seattle with some success. Minnesota health officials, who have been developing the system since 2004, expect other states to closely watch the outcome.

“We made it a priority,” health department spokesman Buddy Ferguson said,StarTribune.com reports. “We really felt it was important to take the lead on this” (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

Title: Bomb Scare, Monkey Pox Quarantine At Two Midwest Airports
Date: April 27, 2012
Source: Fox 4 News

Abstract: Part of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was evacuated Friday morning after a screener detected what he thought was an explosive in a piece of luggage.

Reuters reports that after interviewing the passenger and opening the luggage, security officials determined the device was not an explosive but actually a water filtration system in the passenger’s checked baggage.

“The questionable items in the bag were two PVC pipes capped at both ends filled with a granular material,” airport spokesman Patrick Hogan told Reuters. “There were also a number of wires in the bag that were not connected to the pipes.”

According to the Transportation Safety Administration, the public area of the terminal was cleared and approaching roads were closed temporarily during the incident to ensure safety.

Terminal 2 is the smaller of the airport’s two terminals, serving Southwest Airlines, AirTran, Sun Country and Icelandair. The larger Terminal 1 was not affected.

In Chicago, at Midway Airport, passengers suffered a different kind of scare.

A Delta flight was quarantined on the runway, after a concerned passenger reported a family member might have monkey pox from an earlier trip to Africa.

Medical staff reviewed the case, but passengers say they were given little information and grew upset, thinking the worst.

“You think am I going to get off this plane? Am I gonna make it back home? Am I gonna be in a suit just like the other people outside. We’re looking outside of our window and they’re suiting people up in masks and in gloves and you know you only see that stuff in the movies,” one passenger said.

“Quarantined… like tell us what could this be, is it airborne? Is it topical? Is it viral? What is it, what do you mean? Do you cover your mouth? I was not sitting next to someone, I was sitting in one seat, no one next to me. So do I feel safe? Do I not feel safe? I think my mind started playing games with me, I thought I was itching you know it is just one of those things where you’re just not sure.”

Everyone on the flight was able to leave after medical officials said the woman in question was only suffering from bug bites (Fox 4 News, 2012)

Title: Minn. Exercise Will Measure Anthrax Response Tme By USPS
Date: May 4, 2012
Source: Bio Prep Watch

Abstract: A bioterrorism simulation scheduled for Sunday will take place in the Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, area to determine how quickly the United States Postal Service can respond to an anthrax attack.

Operation Medicine Delivery is the first dry run of the USPS’s anthrax response plan. The exercise was announced on Thursday at a joint press conference of the USPS and the Minnesota Department of Health, Security Management reports.

“We’re going to be looking at how quickly it takes us to get the supply in and to different types of households – apartment buildings versus rural areas and areas where there’s a significant walk to one place to another,” Edward J. Gabriel, the principal deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said, according to Security Management.

The exercise will assess the process from the first confirmation of a simulated biological attack to medication delivery and debriefing. The exercise is mostly unscripted.

“The staging of the medication, placing them into the postal vehicles, the postal workers coming to work, the operation center monitoring the activities – all of it will be a part of the exercise,” Gabriel said, according to Security Management. “We plan, but don’t script it to the point where every variable is thought out ahead of time because we want to test how the process works.”

The National Postal Model for the Delivery of Medical Countermeasures is the federal government’s plan to deploy postal workers within 48 hours to deliver antibiotics to residents. Inhalation anthrax has a 90 percent mortality rate, but the rate drops to 75 percent if antibiotics are started within 48 hours.

To distribute medicine to the 575,000 people in households throughout the two cities, 180 volunteer carriers would be needed. The Minnesota program currently has over 300 volunteers.

“Will (the postal model) be a success?” Gabriel said, according to Security Management. “It’s already a success. (In this exercise) we’re looking to see what parts of the system can do better and what parts of the process can potentially be changed” (Bio Prep Watch, 2012)

Title: Device To Purify Water Led To Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport Terminal Evacuation
Date: June 4, 2012

Abstract: The object that prompted a weekend evacuation of the smaller of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport's two terminals turned out to be a device used for water purification, an airport official said Monday.

Airport spokeswoman Melissa Scovronski said the woman traveling with the device told authorities she needed it for medical purposes.

The device was found by Transportation Security Administration officials about 4:30 p.m. Sunday in a piece of checked baggage in Terminal 2, also known as the Humphrey terminal. The Bloomington Police Department bomb squad was called, and the airport terminal was evacuated for about two hours while authorities investigated.

Scovronski says the woman traveling with the device was heading to Anchorage, Alaska, and her flight was delayed due to the evacuation. Once police determined the luggage was hers, she was questioned, then allowed to continue with her travels.

No criminal charges were filed.

It was the second time in a little more than a month that the Humphrey terminal was evacuated for what turned out to be a water filtration device in checked luggage. The man in the previous incident also was not charged.

The Humphrey terminal handles less than 10 percent of the airport's passenger volume (TwinCities.com, 2012)

Title: Minnesota Health Officials Investigate Salmonella Outbreak Linked To Denny’s
Date: July 14, 2012
Outbreak News

Abstract: (A Salmonella montevideo outbreak which has affected at least four people is being investigated by the Olmsted County Public Health Services and the Minnesota Department of Health.

According to a PostBulletin.com report Saturday, the salmonella outbreak, currently consisting of 3 confirmed and 1 suspected case, is being linked to a Denny’s Restaurant in Rochester, MN.

The report states the confirmed cases all dined at Denny’s Restaurant between June 27 and July 5 and were hospitalized for Salmonella montevideo, which began between July 2 and 7.

Olmsted County health officials say that a specific food source has not been identified and the investigation is ongoing.

Shaylene Baumbach, with the Olmsted County Public Health Services said the restaurant is cooperating with the investigation.

In an unrelated investigation, the bacterium, Salmonella montevideo is currently the focus of a CDC investigation of live poultry from a Missouri hatchery, which has sickened at least 66 people.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.

In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis (Outbreak News, 2012).