BUENOS AIRES – Argentine authorities are investigating a terrorist threat against shopping malls and has strengthened security measures at those most likely to be targeted for attacks, although “there are no elements to alert us,” Security Secretary Sergio Berni said Friday.
Berni said the Federal Intelligence Agency received information about the terrorist threat on Oct. 27 and got in touch with other intelligence services, including Israel’s Mossad and the CIA of the United States, but said later “there are no elements to alert us.”
However, “faced with a possible threat, we are taking action and we are doing it with all the resources at our command,” the official said, adding that “as a matter of common sense” and in obedience to a court order, the security operation set in motion will continue for the next 48 hours.
Details of the investigation are still secret and “we want to transmit calm to the people,” Berni said in a brief appearance before the media during which he would accept no questions.
The alert was sounded after social networks circulated a supposed communique from the Argentine Security Ministry warning Federal Police of a threat against the Buenos Aires shopping malls Abasto and Unicenter, while urging a hike in precautionary levels at all their establishments.
The alert attributed the threat to the terrorist group Ansar Dine, which has ties to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and says surveillance of migrants from Mali should be boosted to extreme levels.
The security secretary did not confirm during his appearance the authenticity of the communique that went viral on social media.
The Argentine chamber of shopping malls issued a statement to communicate “calm to employees, their families and customers” because “all the right precautions for dealing with such contingencies have been taken” by working “very closely with security forces.”
“Our associates are protected by high levels of security measures, and all the mechanisms to strengthen them are in place,” the statement said.