February 23, 2015 - 3:35 PM
EDMONTON - A leader in Edmonton's Somali community says al-Shabab is despised among ex-pats for its barbarity and his biggest fear is a misplaced backlash over threats the group has made to West Edmonton Mall.
Jibril Ibrahim, president of the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton, says he spoke with police about a purported al-Shabab video released on the weekend calling for attacks on various malls.
He says community members are on the lookout for anything suspicious.
But Ibrahim said he doesn't think anyone would carry out threats in the group's name.
"We don't anticipate anybody acting on any of those threats at all," he said Monday. "Those kind of groups, to come out and use our name, was kind of insulting to us and that's how we feel."
The video from the Somalian Islamic extremist group calls for attacks on malls in Canada, the United States and Britain
A brief reference to West Edmonton Mall is near the end of a 76-minute documentary-style video about the 2013 attack on the upscale Westgate Mall in Nairobi, in which 67 people were killed. Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for that attack.
"If just a handful of mujahedeen fighters could bring Kenya to a complete standstill for nearly a week, then imagine what a dedicated mujahedeen in the West could do to the American or Jewish-owned shopping centres across the world," the masked man reads.
"What if such an attack were to occur in the Mall of America in Minnesota? Or the West Edmonton Mall in Canada? Or in London's Oxford Street?"
West Edmonton Mall and Mall of America were developed by the Ghermezians, Jewish immigrants to Canada from Iran.
RCMP are investigating the "exact contents and authenticity" of the alleged al-Shabab video. They say "there is no evidence at this time of any specific or imminent threat to Canadians."
Ibrahim said al-Shabab had support in Somalia during the middle of the last decade when Ethiopian troops moved into the country, but that support evaporated when people began to realize how violent the group is.
He said backlash against Somalis in Edmonton has already started. On Monday, a woman reported to the society that she had her hijab pulled from her head at a gas station.
Ibrahim said he wants people to know it's not the Somali community that is a threat.
"Our community left Somalia because of issues of war and fighting," he said.
"Criminals are criminals — we disown them."
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015