DHS Secretary "confident" of enhanced security after mall threat

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said he is "confident" there will be enhanced security at the Mall of America in Minneapolis after al-Shabaab, a terror group linked to al Qaeda, released an online video over the weekend which appears to call for attacks on that mall and at least two other popular international shopping locations.

In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, Johnson said the video message "reflects the new phase in the global terrorist threat" where groups call for individual actors to carry out attacks in their homelands instead of sending operatives to do so.

"We have to deal with it in a new and different way that involves a whole-of-government approach and involves working with state and local law enforcement working with the community, working with community leaders to hopefully persuade people who might be inclined in this direction to turn away from violence," he said.

"I am confident that there will be enhanced security at the mall in Minneapolis that is the focus of that video," Johnson added. "In response to earlier calls we ramped up the federal protective service at federal buildings around the country. But this most recent release is emblematic of a new phase that we're in and so doing things here in the homeland has become critical to deal with this new global terrorist threat that we face."

The threat of attacks in the homeland has been amplified by the growing number of western individuals who become radicalized and travel to places like Syria to train and fight with militant groups. Johnson said the FBI does "a good job" of intercepting and charging those who try to leave the U.S. to support those groups, but it can be difficult due to a phenomenon called "broken travel." Then, the individuals will travel to another country and drop off the radar before traveling to Syria.

"We have systems in place to track individuals of suspicion who are traveling internationally," Johnson said. "There is an unknown factor. I have a reasonable degree of confidence that we know who they are but I don't have a complete degree of confidence, so there's more work to do there."

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, said he disagreed with Johnson that the rising threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al Qaeda represents a new phenomenon.

"They're a natural outgrowth of a successful terrorist organization that is now the largest and richest and most powerful we've ever seen on earth in our history," McCain said in a separate interview on "Face the Nation." "We have no policy or strategy to defeat them and that's what's terrifying about it."

McCain was also critical of the administration for a briefing last week in which the military publicized plans to try to retake Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, including timing and troop numbers.

"That is obviously could put the lives of Americans as well as the people we are asking to fight in greater danger if we telegraph everything about our plans to ISIS," McCain said. "I don't think when we decided that we [needed] to go to Europe in World War II that we were going to tell the Nazis exactly when where and how we were going to land."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.