FBI Warns LA & Chicago Shoppers Of Possible Threat

The FBI has released an unverified tip that those people who “hate freedom” are planning on attacking shopping malls in LA and Chicago this season. Before you buy more duct tape, the FBI emphasized that “there is no information to state this is a credible threat”—but they felt they needed to share it “out of an abundance of caution.”

This is this writer’s first ever scare-orrist post! I was starting to think that the era of crazy death warnings from The Enemy were behind us, and here I was with a blog platform to help spread the fear. But now my job here is done.

“FBI warns of possible shopping mall attacks” [Reuters]
“L.A. terrorist threat discounted” [Los Angeles Times]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. mopar_man says:

    Just what the US needs, more terrorism paranoia.

  2. HeyThereKiller says:

    New York is soooo 2001

  3. the_goz says:

    “there is no information to state this is a credible threat”-but they felt they needed to share it “out of an abundance of caution.”

    That way when you are all paranoid and scared it’ll be easier to take away another of your freedoms.

  4. louisb3 says:

    PANIC!

  5. yahonza says:

    Well, if they didn’t share this information and something happened at a mall, people would be screaming that the FBI failed again. Sort of damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

  6. LionelEHutz says:

    The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Or did that dipshit Chertoff have another gut feeling? Maybe he should stop eating burritos 24/7 so we can avoid the fallout from his idiotic “gut feelings”.

  7. tekkierich says:

    Ah, it wouldn’t really be the holidays with out something like this now would it.

  8. taney71 says:

    Is it cool to be snarky about terrorist threats these days? I imagine it is the anti-Bush coolness thing. A bit sheepish if you ask me.

    I would guess that DHS had actionable intelligence on this and is merely sharing the information. I would rather know about a potential threat and nothing happen rather than not know.

    Even if I don’t change my shopping habits I like that the government tells us these things. Too many times the government fails to provide information to the public. I do understand information overload but that is what we wanted isn’t it? The Bush administration has been attacked by Democrats and left-wing nut jobs because of the 9/11 memo which warned Bush that an attack would occur (however, not saying when or where).

    God help the administration that doesn’t do everything it can, including warning the public, to combat an attack. Because if an attack occurred without such actions there would be hell to pay.

  9. MYarms says:

    I don’t understand terrorists these days. Why would you attack a bunch of malls? Isn’t our infrastructure a slightly more important target?

  10. faust1200 says:

    As if I needed another reason to stay away from the malls around the holidays.

  11. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Dude, this was totally the plot of Invasion USA. Somebody find out what Richard Lynch has been doing!

  12. taney71 says:

    @MYarms: Attacking soft targets with high reward value is a big plus for terrorists. Even if an attack kills only 20 or 30 people (even less would probably due) the terror that such an attack would instill on the U.S. population would be a priceless victory for them. Basically it would have a direct negative impact on our economy for a variety of reasons and would send our political system into a disarray.

  13. humphrmi says:

    @taney71: Let’s look at your summarizing statement.

    Basically it would have a direct negative impact on our economy for a variety of reasons

    Check. An attack (if it actually happened) on malls during high shopping season in any major met, especially in the critical Midwest where from other shoppers take their cues, would have a devistating impact on the economy. Good call.

    and would send our political system into a disarray.

    Uhh, NOT CHECK. What, some shoppers get blowed up in Chicago and Washington falls to it’s knees, paralyzed in disarray? I don’t think so. It would indeed be a terrible thing and have an impact on the U.S. shopping season, but let’s not get out of hand here, shoppers won’t send our political system into disarray.

  14. HeyThereKiller says:

    @MYarms: an attack on americas malls could potentially wipe out an entire generation!! not to mention hot topic

  15. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Just like during the 2000 campaign, more bullshit from the Bushies when Bush’s poll numbers drop!

    There wasn’t any credible info on this, it came from an idiot who probably got a lot of US government money for his garbage info.
    Sort of like “Curveball” did to get us into Iraq.
    Maybe the source is a protege or relative of “Curveball”!

  16. taney71 says:

    @humphrmi: I meant by sending our political system into a disarray that inside of currently focusing on discrimination, getting out of Iraq, and other issues we would see a sudden shift back to terrorism being the number one focus (either at the voting both or in Congress).

    If that occurred, voting patterns in Congress would take a conservative tilt on national security issues. There probably would be no call to end water-boarding and more than likely even a Democratic president act Bush-like. I highly doubt after an attack that President Obama will talk to the terrorist or open up a dialog with Europe on what the United States should do. I consider those things to flip the current state of our political system and thus putting it into disarray for a time.

  17. humphrmi says:

    @taney71: With some additional details filled in, your argument makes a bit more sense. I still disagree – I think that both voters and politicians would try to work like they learned from the last experience. But better point in any case.

  18. JAYEONE says:

    Viva Internet shopping!

  19. dazette says:

    I assume those of you who are so snarkily “poo pooing” didn’t lose anyone in the actual New York or Washington attacks or the ones in Europe? Do any of you actually live in, or have loved ones in LA or Chicago? Since the FBI specifically notified the LA and Chicago police departments why should it not at least be mentioned to shoppers?

  20. @dazette: Well, I’m being snarky because I was in NYC on 9/11—I even worked in the Cantor Fitzgerald offices at one point. I spent too many years afterward living with intense anxiety and checking daily for news of new attacks. I’ve since reached the conclusion that if the goal of terrorism is to terrify your opponents, the healthiest and most antagonistic response is to laugh in the face of it.

    I welcome all terrorist-related info. Just don’t expect me to be somber about the matter. (And I promise I won’t expect you to be snarky—to each his own.)

  21. @dazette: Didn’t meant for that to sound like an attack, btw. Obviously I think it’s worth mentioning to shoppers, too.

  22. HeyThereKiller says:

    @dazette: I’ve lived in new york all my life… I was in 10th grade on 9/11… you could see the smoke from the wreckage where I lived halfway out on Long Island. Did I lose anyone? No I was lucky… but just because 6 years later I make a stupid joke in a comment on a blog doesnt mean that I dont appreciate the brevity of the situation.

    Get over yourself… Never forget doesn’t mean constantly remind.

  23. bohemian says:

    I don’t need terrorist threats to keep me away from the mall around Christmas. Oh, and our government has done a fine job tossing themselves into disarray without any outside help.

    Somewhere about 2004 the terror alert system went from orange to “dark humor”. I’m just sick of being told I need to be afraid.

  24. EtherealStrife says:

    Heh possible threat. So of the hundreds/thousands they supposedly get per day, what sets this one apart? After all, it’s “unverified”.

    @taney71: Leave the reich-wing propaganda and circular arguments at the door. We’re all capitalists here.

  25. MrEvil says:

    @dazette: I have a cousin who was actually in the first tower that was hit on 9/11. He got out ok, but he’s still kinda estranged from the family for whatever reason. Just because I laugh at jokes about terrorism and make light of it. It’s a coping mechanism.

    Some people tell jokes, others get gastric ulcers and give up their freedom.

  26. MrEvil says:

    I meant to say, just because I laugh at jokes about terrorism doesn’t make me think any less of those that are killed.

  27. mantari says:

    Should I panic? Immediately?

  28. karmaghost says:

    So, should I avoid these areas because there’s a threat or should I frequent them because there’s no evidence that suggests there’s going to be an attack?

    If there’s no evidence, why did they make the announcement in the first place?

  29. jwissick says:

    No biggie.. I will keep my 1911 on when I shop.

  30. BugMeNot2 says:

    We’ll get plenty more of these warnings once the elections draw near.

  31. mconfoy says:

    “The hate our freedom and want to come here and kill us” — Rudolph Guliani

    They are invading our imaginations — South Park

    We spend billions and billions of dollars on security now. Any idea how far into the negative the ROI is on that?

  32. twiddling_my_thumbs says:

    Ever wonder if part of the defense is public exposure? Takes some of the surprise out of the thing. Imagine if it makes those who might be thinking of doing this. Stop and wonder, if they need to beat feet.

    Not like these types of reports are given out often. It will fade in our memories if nothing happens. What if… Well lets say, we knew at least there was some loose warning of the risk.

  33. rickdog says:

    “Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”

    – Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

  34. dirtymoney says:

    all the trendy bush-hating aside …. I’d rather know about a possible threat than not.

  35. CurbRunner says:

    Invoking external and internal threats…
    These kind of warnings occur on a regular basis in fascists regimes.
    Other historic and currently familiar sounding elements of fascism are:

    1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

    2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

    3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

    4. Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

    5. Rampant Sexism – The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

    6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

    7. Obsession with National Security – Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

    8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government’s policies or actions.

    9. Corporate Power is Protected – The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

    10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

    11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

    12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses, and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

    13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

    14. Fraudulent Elections – Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

  36. theycallmetak says:

    “L.A. terrorist threat discounted”

    At Walmart on Black Friday

  37. crankymediaguy says:

    “all the trendy bush-hating aside …. I’d rather know about a possible threat than not.”

    Trendy? Seven years into this incompetent, full-of-shit administration and you STILL believe one word they say?

    You go hide under the bed; the grown-ups (who refuse to let fear of the Boogey Man stop us from living) have things to do.

  38. veterandem says:

    @taney71:
    Yup, just like there was hell to pay when Bush and company saw the PDB that “bin Laden determined to strike in US” and did nothing, or the whole “mushroom cloud”, WMD, fighting them over there…… etc, etc. Other than the shopping angle, I find this an odd post on The Consumerist! Shop online! That way your duct tape and plastic can protect you, unless the evil-doers have laced your toys for Johnny and Sue with lead….. oh crap, does that make China a rogue nation, the spindle on the axis of evil?

  39. louisb3 says:

    @dazette: 9-11 was the result of a credible threat which the authorities did not respond to until after the fact. This is, by the FBI’s own admission, a non-credible threat. They’re qualitatively different.

    Why would the FBI even bother mentioning a non-credible threat? I’m sure they’re aware of many of them at any given time. Hell, we’re surrounded by non-credible threats every day. They’re non-credible, so we don’t care.

  40. SaveMeJeebus says:

    By terrorists, do we mean legally married gay people, pro-choice folks, or children w/o health insurance? I won’t let any of their shenanigans get in the way of my freedom to shop. And what’s up with them following us home? We haven’t even left yet! Freedom isn’t free ‘Merica!

  41. guymandude says:

    “there is no information to state this is a credible threat”
    Hardly surprising. “Credibility” and “FBI” are 2 things that seldom go together.

  42. Pupator says:

    I can’t believe I’m possibly say this, but I feel bad for the government on this one. It’s a classic case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    If they come out and make the public aware of this threat (even though it’s not credible), they’re “fearmongering.”

    If they don’t, and a mall gets blown up, there will be hell to pay when the investigation later reveals that they had received a threat about this but considered it “non-credible” so they didn’t make people aware.

  43. bonzombiekitty says:

    @mopar_man: Yeah, I came into work today and went into the break room, and the TV was tuned to CNN. There were all these paranoid things like “IS YOUR MALL SAFE?!” and “How to protect yourself in the mall!” I just groaned and changed the channel to the cartoon network.

  44. finite_elephant says:

    So….is the ‘credible threat’ to Chicago area shopping centers….Macy’s?

    Or the rabid ‘Bring Back Field’s’ crowd.

  45. savvy999 says:

    @taney71:

    I would guess that DHS had actionable intelligence on this

    Then perhaps DHS should, um… act upon it? Spreading rumors about maybe something’s gonna happen sorta while you’re kinda shopping… that’s pre-emptive damage control, cover-your-ass spin doctor stuff, not responsible and proper reaction to a threat.

    Personally, I think those Salvation Army bell-ringers are behind this. Who knows what devious weapons of mass destruction they hide in those buckets? Give them a dollar, or it’s the sarin for you and yours.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Whatever happened to the color coded threat system to install fear and panic?

  47. ElizabethD says:

    Oh goody.

    Can we invade Iran now?

  48. Uh oh... Cleveland says:

    Shouldn’t this have been released before the election last Tuesday?

  49. Beerad says:

    The problem isn’t that the government is notifying people, the problem is that they’re notifying people of, ummmm, nothing at all, except maybe “remember to be scared!”

    From the Reuters article: “In the post-9/11 era, sharing information is our top priority,” Kolko said. “Al Qaeda messaging has clearly stated they intend to attack the U.S. or it interests; however, there is no information to state this is a credible threat.” The FBI said in the report that the veracity of the information was uncertain and had been obtained through “a lengthy chain” of sources. Another FBI official said similar alerts have been issued in the past warning of threats around the holidays.”

    You know, I could give the same security advice to the American people. “Look, there are bad people out there that want to attack us. I have no idea where or when, but you know, they’d probably love to muck up the holidays. They might attack some malls, but we have no reason to especially think they will and our information might be wrong.”

    I live in New York, and I’m already aware that bridges, tunnels, train stations, tourist sites, subways, and buildings are all potential targets. I don’t need the government to remind me, particularly when they admit that they don’t really know anything, and especially when recent history has shown that homeland security is all too often a front for partisan propaganda.

  50. mol666 says:

    oh whatever. Classic example of government trying to drive more fear into us.

    Next thing you know they’ll release a bulletin that the terrorists will try to target McDonald’s. Seriously. I had a substitute teacher in the 5th grade (some 25 years ago…ouch) who told us this. Only he used the term “Russians” instead of “Terrorists.” Something about each McDonald’s being built around large population areas, etc.

    *sigh*

  51. snowmentality says:

    No, this is complete BS. If they say “Uhh, it’s non-credible, but there are rumors that maybe someone might attack some mall sometime?” and then don’t do anything to stop it, and it happens anyway, everyone’s still going to be angry at them.

    Just spreading the non-credible rumor, with no suggestions for people to do anything to protect themselves, won’t do anything to stop an attack. All it does is make people scared. I have to figure that’s the point.

    And no one’s going to blow up a mall. Jeez. This is like that mentally ill guy that they tortured until he “confessed” to several fake and implausible planned attacks, which they then reported as “foiled attacks.” In fact, I’d bet money something similar is the source of this “information.”

    Al Quaeda goes for symbolic targets in the US. My guess is that their next attempt will be on the White House or Congress, because that’s what they failed to hit on 9/11. And believe me, I don’t say that flippantly or want that to happen in any way. I have close friends in DC, and I worry about them every day.

  52. Instigator says:

    It’s too late. The people who “hate freedom” are running the country.

  53. thewriteguy says:

    Considering how crapifying our economy is going (dollar at an all-time low, subprime meltdown, rising gas prices), you’d think the government would be encouraging people to go shopping with the holiday season right around the corner. I’m not scared of stepping into a mall due to this latest propaganda scare, but I’m not much of a fan of going to the malls during the holiday season anyway. So I can now sarcastically tell people I ain’t stepping into a mall because al Qaeda could bomb the food court. Thanks for giving me the excuse to avoid the malls entirely during the important retail holiday season!

  54. Pinget says:

    Even if they thought their cat was sending them telepathic messages that al-Qaida might bomb the mall, that would cause the powers that be to lose sleep. The consumer is 70% of the economy.

    “Out of an abundance of caution” I must tell you that 40,000 Americans will die on our roads this year, it will probably get dark tonight and sometime in the next year it might rain. Puh-leez.

  55. mantari says:

    @Pinget: “I must tell you that 40,000 Americans will die on our roads this year

    Is that a threat? Because don’t think for one second that I won’t call Homeland Security to report you.

  56. Brad2723 says:

    The terrorists have already won. They wanted to change our way of life, and with all of the government spying and making us afraid to leave our homes, they have succeeded.

  57. HumbleNarrator says:

    I wonder why the continued Al Qaeda threats on our Office Supply stores doesn’t get more press? We can’t let them get their hands on our Post-It Notes!

    [www.humblenarrator.com]

  58. bunnymen says:

    Wouldn’t the Mall of America be a better symbolic target for terrorists? PLUS it’s right by the airport…

  59. mconfoy says:

    The odds of dying from reading to many bad opinions on this site are much greater than dying from a terroist even if we had done nothing after 9/11 security wise.

  60. Frane says:

    I agree with you 100%. Those that complint about the alerts would be the first one in line saying “They knew and did not informed the public” if the whole thing goes south.@taney71: