16 December 2008

An Open Letter to the Officials of Minnesota Concerning Security at the Mall of America in Light of the Attack on Mumbai

I wrote this letter to the following individuals:

The Governor of Minnesota
The Sheriff of Hennepin County, MN
The office if the Adjutant General of Minnesota
The Board Clerk of Hennepin County, MN
State Senator Sandra Pappas
The City Manager of Bloomington, MN
The Chief of Police of Bloomington, MN
The Fire Department of Bloomington, MN

Here's hoping that in the light of the attack on Mumbai by terrorists in late November, they pay attention.

Dear gentlemen (and ladies),
My name is Reuven Kossover, and I used to live in the Twin Cities for about two decades before moving with my family to Israel to live.

I'm writing this to you because my wife has family in St. Paul and suburbs, and they commonly go to the Mall of America to shop, dine out, what have you. So, this is a personal matter for me, rather than some citizen wagging his finger at you with public concerns and time-wasting whining.

I notice this because this was sent out by Tamar Yonah, a host on the internet radio station Israel National Radio, otherwise known by its Hebrew name " 'Arutz Sheva". This is the link to the article found at Israel National News.com. This is a live link. Click on it and you will go the article itself.

I'm also sending this out because I have a relative who might be in a position to do something to protect his own family, not to mention the millions who visit the Mall of America yearly, a captain with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office. I'm also writing this out of concern for the Jews who live in the Twin Cities area, who would, as Jews in Mumbai were, be targeted in a terrorist attack.

The Twin Cities and Bloomington are inland ports, unlike Mumbai. Americans will have already been alerted to the possibility of a major terrorist attack on a seaport - for example the shopping mall near 25th Avenue (Bay Parkway) in Brooklyn.

The Mall of America is a major tourist attraction for the state of Minnesota, not to mention the city of Bloomington. Unlike the Minnesota State Fair, which runs for ten days at the end of summer, the Mall of America is open nearly 365 days a year. I will confine my concerns here to the security of Minnesotans and tourists to Minnesota.

According to the article below, Director of the Northeast Intelligence
Network Douglass L. Hagmann was interviewed on Israel National
Radio's Weekend Edition and said that attacks like those in Mumbai
will happen again. From the article:

"Hagmann is a private investigator and security and surveillance
expert who provides information for the FBI, Homeland Security and
other agencies. He's also the author of "Tactical Surveillance" an
investigative manual that is used at Henley-Putnam University as one
of the core texts in the criminal justice program.

Hagmann wants the public to know, "I've personally investigated
potential terrorists who are in this country [USA] that appear to be
training for just such scenarios." He went on to explain that he has
evidence of Muslim groups training in the Catskills. They train with
automatic weapons and the loud spats of gunfire are unsettling and
disturbing to those neighbors who reside nearby. The most disturbing
thing Hagmann says is that during surveillance of this Muslim group
it was discovered that they have video of them practicing shooting up
a yellow school bus they had brought onto their property. The school
bus target shooting is disturbing because it could be a sign to come
of a future terror attack on American school children.

What about immediate targets?

Hagmann states that the Mall of America is a prime target for Islamic
terrorists. "The terrorists have published their desires to create an
attack against American civilians in a retail shopping outlet. Number
one, for the body count, number two, for the ease of the target and
thirdly, they don't care if they kill women and children, in fact,
all the better, and number four, it would have a serious economic
effect on the country."

Now, let's examine the possibilities for such an attack. There is in the Twin Cities a large Somali population that could be recruited for such an operation. Bear in mind that only ten individuals attacked Mumbai, a city of 18 million souls. Somalis are preferable to others simply because being black, they are not appreciably different in appearance from the native-born black-Americans. Profiling them would create an outcry of bigotry from politically correct Minnesotans, of whom there appear to be a large number.

So, that is the best recruiting pool. The second best recruiting pool would be Arabs who bear a strong resemblance to Mexicans - of whom there are many in the Twin Cities area. The same issues regarding racial profiling would apply to Arabs as would apply to Somalis, for the same reasons.

This would a suicide attack, because once the terrorist attackers engaged the acquisition of hostages and targets, the chance of their negotiating their live exit from target areas would be slim to none. So the concentration must be on swift liberation of target areas seized., as murdering hostages would not be an issue for the terrorists. There would be no hostages in the real sense of the word, merely prisoners seized for execution by terrorists, for the purpose of spreading terror and fear.

Now let's look at some of the security issues. Please do not think that I am trying to tell you how to do your jobs here. But having shopped numerous times at the Mall of America, I know just how easy it was to get in and get out. But the last time I went to shop there was in August, 2001. I do not know how easy approach to the Mall of America is today - whether there is real security presence there or not, whether entrants are checked for weapons, etc. But my memory tells me that there were at least four entrances and exits and all of them need to be covered - as well as motels in the vicinity and transit hubs (like the stations for the light rail that now runs there). This would be to cover the potential targeting of the general population of Minnesota, considering how the general population of Mumbai was targeted in much the same way.

But we come to an additional issue here, the likely targeting of the Haba"d House in the Twin Cities, or of major synagogues either in St. Paul or its immediate suburbs. It must not be forgotten that while Kashmir may have been a "screen issue" for the terrorists in Mumbai, the real goals were to bring Mumbai to its knees - and to torture and kill Jews.

So, the rabbis in charge of the Haba"d House and its associated institutions in the Twin Cities must be consulted with as to seeing to it that the security of those associated with it is safeguarded. I mention the Haba"d House and its affiliated institutions because they are the most obvious targets - but two conservative synagogues, a day school and perhaps one office in the Highland area of St. Paul are also likely targets. In this communication, I will not mention names. This communication is not encrypted.

I realize that Mumbai is far, far away. and for the most part, aside from commercial or family considerations, what occurs on the Indian subcontinent or the Middle East is of little concern for the average Minnesotan. I certainly felt that way myself for most of the time that I lived in the Twin Cities. Whether the Vikes make it to the Superbowl, or whether the firm one works for is healthy in a very difficult economic climate is a far more relevant concern - until terrorists, well organized and well trained, strike and kill innocents in your midst.

It is for this reason that I beg you, that I implore you to pay close attention to this letter. I myself can only address the security issues you face in the most skeletal way. But I still have family in Minnesota, and I do not want to see them die as a result of a terror attack that could be prevented.

May you all have a pleasant and safe holiday season.
R. Kossover
Samaria, Israel

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