McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

National News

September 25, 2013

Why shopping malls are attractive targets for terrorists

WASHINGTON — The scale of the terrorist siege at Nairobi's Westgate Mall, which now appears to have finally ended after four days, may have been unprecedented. But the notion of shopping centers as tempting targets for terrorist attacks is hardly new.

A 2006 analysis from the Rand Corporation warned that, "in terms of their potential role as terrorist targets, shopping centers present numerous challenges for security." At the time, they reported that there had been over 60 terrorist attacks against shopping centers in 21 countries since 1998. There have been several reported international terrorist threats against malls in the United States over the years, though none have been carried out.

Obviously, any "soft target" where large crowds of people gather are going to be tempting for attackers. Malls "allow unimpeded access to the public and attract a wide cross-section of the nation's population," the Rand authors write. But they also suggest that the business model of malls makes the marginal cost of additional security measures extremely high and leads to most of them being relatively unprotected.

Shopping centers "differ markedly from facilities like airports, which provide an essential service with few alternatives," they write. "For this reason, shopping center customers and tenants may not tolerate the expense and inconvenience of increased security." There's also the fact that malls often have complex, multi-stakeholder ownership structures which "increases the difficulties of implementing security and other risk-reduction measures."

The authors say after a catastrophic attack, customers and businesses might become more tolerant of security measures like metal detectors, as they did with airports in the wake of 9/11. However, events have shown that even measures that the public wouldn't tolerate in most countries might not be enough to keep customers safe.

In the wake of a 2005 bombing outside the entrance to a shopping mall in Netanya, Israel in 2006, The New York Times noted that "Most shopping malls, stores, restaurants and other public buildings in Israel have guards and often metal detectors at the entrances," but unfortunately, "the checks also create lines, which sometimes become targets."

Again, the Nairobi attack was a unique case. The Westgate mall is a potent symbol of Kenya's rising middle class - in stark contrast to neighboring Somalia - and also attracts an international clientele. But it's definitely the first time such a place has been targeted, and assuming most countries aren't willing to turn malls into fortresses, it's probably not a threat that's going away.



 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
National News
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.