Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A threat that strikes incredibly close to home February 26, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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IT’S A BIT LIKE THE ELEPHANT in the room. Do I write about it or not? To avoid the topic seems akin to closing my eyes and pretending I don’t see that which exists.

“It” would be the terrorist threat against the Mall of America.

I live 45 minutes from the mall, which the Somali terror group al-Shabab specifically names as a possible target for attack in a video released this past weekend.

Tucked away in the north land, most Minnesotans likely have felt secure here, far removed from such terrorist threats.

But I’ve always thought this mega shopping center in Bloomington could be a target for attack by terror groups or individual extremists.

Consider the name, Mall of America. “Mall” represents commerce and trade and, probably in the eyes of those who dislike Americans, consumer greed. And the “America” part of the mall’s name, well, that’s a bonus. Precisely the place these terrorists hate.

The Mall of America draws some 40 million visitors annually. With its 520 plus stores, 50 restaurants, LEGO play area, aquarium, theme park, movie theaters and more, the complex is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, according to the MOA website. Perfect target.

I’ve never been to the mall. I simply have no desire to visit. So, for me personally, I don’t need to consider whether I would feel safe going there now.

But for those planning a trip here, this threat certainly must weigh on minds, consciously or subconsciously. Northfield Middle School recently canceled an eighth grade band trip to the mall. The Orono Middle School likewise canceled a physics class visit.

How about you? If you had a daughter or granddaughter who is crazy about the American Girl doll, would you now take her to the MOA American Girl store?

Would you celebrate a child’s birthday at Nickelodeon Universe®?

Would you tour SEA LIFE® Minnesota Aquarium?

Would you see “American Sniper” in a mall theater?

A friend’s daughter works at MOA. You can bet both mom and daughter now carry a level of concern. Who wouldn’t?

The ever-changing/growing diversity of Faribault High School as seen in this post commencement gathering outside the school.

This photo shows the ever-growing diversity in my community as seen in this gathering after Faribault High School’s 2012 commencement. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

And I have to wonder about Minnesota’s Somali population. Do they now feel like they are under scrutiny? My own community of Faribault has a significant Somali population. Even before this threat, tension has existed here between some long-time locals and these newest immigrants. I hope this current situation does not heighten tensions.

I have to trust that Minnesota Nice will prevail.

Al-Shabab has also successfully recruited young Somali men in Minnesota to join its cause. That’s already been a major cause for concern among officials and those in the state’s Somali population.

I have to believe that most Minnesotans will stand sensibly strong and watchful in the face of this latest threat.


© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


22 Responses to “A threat that strikes incredibly close to home”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    I avoid the malls in general just because there are so many people milling about not paying attention and being inconsiderate of others. For sure not a place to be during cold/flu season…eww. These kinds of threats are no doubt funded by things of this nature happening frequently is appears. http://www.myfoxtwincities.com/story/27651743/fraud-charges-against-deqo-family-centers-owners-follows-fox-9-investigation

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    This threat has definitely raised its ugly head in our own backyard. Especially when it’s reported that the terrorist group leaders are saying that, for those who cannot raise the funds to join them in “their homeland”, they should act out/implement their desired destruction where they live!!!!! I have many other thoughts on this but, maybe, they are best kept out of the public venue. It is becoming increasingly evident that the “Last Days” are most definitely ‘in motion’ and upon us.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    You ask some hard questions. The threat to the mall is quite real as evidenced by the mall attack in Kenya. If it comes, it probably will come from elements within the Somali community.

    But what does that say?

    Should we hold the community responsible for the actions of a few?

    Should we fear Somalians because, well, you never know?

    Should we try to silence people who ask these questions?

    I fear the last question the most. People of good heart should never fear a question, even if it offends them.

    In these conversations, it is important to stay calm and focus on the humanity of everyone involved.

    Audrey, I applaud you for bringing up this subject.

  4. Lanae Says:

    Can of worms……
    How German and Chinese people were treated during the World Wars I & II many sent to camps. Every nationality at some point feels unwelcome and threatened by others. Treat others as you want to be treated. My ancestors worked hard to prove they were worthy of being Americans and didn’t wait for a hand out. That’s what I ask for in those new comers, work hard, be proud that you are an American.

    I would go to the Mall of America, don’t let your fear or terrorist be the winner.

  5. cheryl schrader Says:

    The extremists would like nothing better to scare all people into staying home and away from places where they can congregate, talk and just exchange news and ideas. That way they can isolate the population and then they have more control over the population at large. Along those same mentality, if they can create fear between religions or people who are not dressed as we are or our skin in not the same color, they can gain control because while we are fearing or fighting amongst ourselves they have a diversion, and can then commit their “evil” deeds much easier. That is why it is so important to accept or at least not alienate some groups of people from another. The United We Stand, Divided We Fall ideal is so true.

  6. Jackie Says:

    I am a shopper an recently walked the 3 levels of the MOA. At one point as Rick and I stopped to rest I said, “sometimes I get kind of nervous when we are here, you know…. this could be an easy place to attack”, gulp. and then a week later we hear about this threat. Our son Gavin was at the MOA just last weekend, I knew he was in the cities, but didnt know he’d be at the MOA, when I asked him if he knew about the threat he said, no, and being a young invincible man, did not seem too worried about the threat. I try not to let these threats dictate my plans, but I’m certainly frustrated by these claims. Ugh!, Whats this world coming to?

  7. I think it is sad and tragic that we have to have a plan to protect ourselves to go to a mall or movie theater or pretty much any public place now. Scary! My 8 to 5 job has taught me a few things about active shootings and terrorist attacks with all forms of weapons and just the things that can be delivered through the mail has given me some cringing moments through those trainings. Again Scary! The main conclusion of those trainings is to attack as big of a mass of people as possible. I never thought leaving a building for a fire drill/alarm or bomb threat could lead to a group taking you out in the parking lot because most people congregate in those types of situations. Just look at Columbine with devices planted in vehicles that luckily did not go off. I know it makes me think and it makes me pay more attention to my surroundings now.

    Great Topic Today.

  8. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    I was at MOA this past weekend, on Saturday, for the JDRF OneWalk. It was a little eerie on Sunday morning to listen to the news and learn of this new threat, having just been there. But those threats have been there, been possibilities, since the mall opened. Will I change my weekend behavior because of this latest threat? Probably not. Will I hope more people work for peace, understanding, and better communication? You bet. We live in a time when we are all more aware of threats thanks to instant news reports and the Internet, but we have to remember that the possibilities for disruption have existed forever. The methods may change, but the need to be aware of what’s going on around us doesn’t change. Nor does the need to be an engaged, thoughtful citizen. Fear is powerful and I understand that people get panicky when their back yard makes it into a terrorist video. Don’t let that panic prevent thoughtful examination of the facts, real risks, and opportunities to affect change for the better.

    • Excellent points, Kathleen. My husband and I had this exact same discussion.

      When we were growing up, it was the Cold War. Remember fall-out shelters and hiding under your desk and talk of missiles? Today’s instant communication shrinks the world. Now days nothing seems as far away as it once did. I remember the story my mom told me about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. As a young girl, this truly frightened her. She had no concept of how close or far away Hawaii might be. She thought it was as near as the next town over.

      • Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

        Yes, I do remember the air raid drills in school and the ridiculous idea that we would be safe beneath our desks in the event of a nuclear attack. One of the things about the instant communication is that it keeps us in a constant state of stress, keeps that fear foremost in our minds. I remember being afraid when I was little and thought that Cuba had missiles pointed at us all the time. Nothing is that simple! And some days I wouldn’t mind hiding under my desk again. 🙂

      • Alright, I’ll hide under your desk with you. Deal?

  9. rita waters Says:

    isis are not foolish enough to tell us where they will strike.saying where is just to throw us off and make us worry.how could we believe anything they say or threaten?think about it!

  10. Gunny Says:

    The Elephant in the Room. Good point – well taken.

    I suggest learning things about the various cultures to include Somalis and Kenyons etc. There are books written on foreign customs. Go to the library, find one and inform yourself. Not to say that there are not some good things about some of these countries, but for the most part, go check out your local slums and you will get an idea of how some of the conditions that are “normal” in those countries.

    Two representatives have denounced one country and are now shocked that they have been barred from entry. Just because they are elected (or even appointed) officials does not give them Carte Blanche to access other countries particularly in light of their actions and words. The Dixie Chicks was one of my favorite music groups until I found about how they were bad-mouthing America. Seems I wasn’t the only one. Their careers in music took a dive after that. Make a stupid comment in the airport? You too can get on the “No Fly List”.

    Just to calm one’s nerves, Cuba DID have missiles pointing at us. (My father was aircrew in the Strategic Air Command or SAC) One Soviet submarine had nuclear weapons during the blockade. The “near misses” are enough to give me gray hair. However, what can one do besides hide under a desk? I learned early that a nuclear weapon, would vaporize me. My fear was that I would survive a nuclear attack.

    As a rule of thumb, I will not talk or attempt to talk with anyone who has their face covered. I will also find the first excuse to get away from them – particularly if they wear flowing garments that can hide anything. Backpacks, given the situation are another thing that gives me bad vibes.

    Kathleen, Dan and Craves have some good insights. Personally, I do not like crowds (often these crowds are potential targets) but that goes back to my childhood.

    Oh, and just for the record, today’s immigrants are pretty much on the public dole, unlike any ancestors we had back before 1950 or so.

    • I don’t necessarily agree with everything you say here. But I appreciate your insights none-the-less.

      In my community of Faribault, most immigrants work at the local turkey plant doing jobs others do not necessarily want to do.

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