ST. PAUL (AP) -- The Mall of America was one of at least five sites cased by terrorist groups linked to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network for possible attacks in the United States, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Friday.
Walt Disney World, Disneyland, the Sears Tower in Chicago and unspecified sports facilities were also on the list, the newspaper said in a report on its Web site, citing three internal government reports. Two senior Bush administration officials familiar with the reports spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity, the newspaper said.
According to the reports, investigators found sketches or reports describing the mall and the other sites among the possessions of the suicide hijackers and their alleged colleagues.
No evidence has come to light suggesting that attacks are -- or ever were -- planned on any of those buildings or theme parks, the Pioneer Press reported.
Minnesota law enforcement officials earlier confirmed the megamall was on a list they had developed of potential terrorist targets. The list also included Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and the IDS Center in downtown Minneapolis.
But Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver downplayed the threat to the Mall of America on Friday and said he had spoken to regional FBI officials.
"There continues to be zero credible evidence of a threat to Minnesotans," Weaver said. "People should go to the mall, they should go to the Dome, they should go to IDS (Center), they should go places feeling comfortable that significant security measures have been taken."
A Mall of America spokeswoman said the mall has taken 22 security measures since the Sept. 11 attacks. Representatives of the other buildings and theme parks said they had no reason to think their facilities were targeted.
But several merchants at the Mall of America said they don't feel reassured by the mall's promise to boost security.
"I come in every day with this bag and it's never checked and anything could be in there," said Fred Jackson, manager of Mac Birdie Golf Gifts. "That's my biggest fear, that people are carrying stuff in here and there's no checking. A lot of people are scared."
Some merchants said they rarely saw guards checking the stairways and passageways closed to the public. Some said the mall should boost security at entrances and check baggage.
Store manager Paul Anderson said he had worked at the complex since it opened nine years ago and had never seen merchants so fearful.
"I've had two of my workers quit because of the terrorist threat," he said. "I had a 19-year-old girl who was working here and she wrote me a note saying that she was too young to die from terrorism."
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