PARIS — Despite tightened security, it was business as usual in Europe’s shopping hubs after terrorist group Al Shabaab released a video on Saturday calling for attacks across malls in North America, Canada, the United Kingdom and other western countries.
The broadcast included GPS coordinates for the Westfield shopping centers in London’s Stratford and Shepherd’s Bush. However, a media representative of Westfield said: “There is no evidence of an imminent threat to our shopping centers.”
Though its security procedures are confidential, the representative said: “As always, Westfield Corporation will take every available step to keep our shopping centers safe for staff, retailers and customers and our heads of security in the U.S. and U.K. continue to coordinate their activities with police and government agencies.”
Richard Dickinson, chief executive of New West End Co., said it is aware of the video and “in contact with the Metropolitan Police, who are assessing the content. As always, we will continue to work closely with the police to ensure the safety of shoppers, workers and others who visit the West End.”
The New West End Co. represents the core retailers across London’s West End, including Oxford, Regent and Bond streets. There were no signs of panic or increased security measures on Oxford Street on Monday.
Meanwhile in France, security was ramped up at shopping malls Le Forum des Halles in central Paris and Les Quatre Temps in the business district of La Défense, according to Benjamin Griveaux, spokesman for commercial real estate firm Unibail-Rodamco, which owns both properties.
Although they were not mentioned in the Al Shabaab video, the names of both malls appeared in the background during the broadcast.
Griveaux noted that in the wake of the Jan. 7 terrorist attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the French government has already placed the country on maximum alert for terrorist attacks, resulting in increased private security in addition to a stepped-up police and army presence at its malls in Paris and its outskirts.
After the terror group broadcast its video over the weekend, the operator contacted Paris police officials, who confirmed the threat was credible. As a result, Unibail-Rodamco has put in place extra security to increase the number of visual checks and searches at Le Forum des Halles and Les Quatre Temps, Griveaux said.
Le Forum des Halles drew 37 million visitors in 2014, while Les Quatre Temps attracted 46 million. “Everything is being put in place to guarantee the security of visitors but also for our staff,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was in the United States to discuss terrorism.
Cazeneuve held talks on Monday with officials from Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple in a bid to convince them to crack down on content that incites terror attacks. The French minister was also scheduled to take part in a summit in Washington, D.C., to improve international cooperation in the fight against terror.