Saturday, October 02, 2010

State Department to Caution Americans in Europe: Be On Alert Amid Terrorism Concerns

The State Department plans to issue a travel alert tomorrow for Americans who are in Europe, citing fears of potential Islamic terrorist acts in European cities.

Here's the AP story.

Such notices for Americans abroad to be vigilant during times of potential trouble are not out of the ordinary for many countries. But they are unusual for all of Europe. Tomorrow's notice is not expected to include any specific warnings on travel to Europe, but rather heads-up information on possible trouble in European cities from possible Islamic terrorist activities.

The AP report quotes an unnamed U.S. official saying that the alert "is being prompted by the volume of intelligence on possible terror threats, rather than new intelligence" and adds: "It emerged last week that U.S. intelligence officials were looking at information about a possible 'Mumbai-style' attack in cities across Europe."

The State Department issues two basic kinds of precaution notices, the most serious of which are travel warnings to "avoid or consider the risk of travel to" specified countries because of "long-term, protracted" conditions of terrorist threats or other serious danger. That current list has 31 countries on it -- here -- including Mexico, Israel, the Philippines, Pakistan, Colombia and Nepal.

Travel alerts, like the one expected to be issued tomorrow, are issued for what the State Department describes as "short-term conditions, either transnational or within a particular country, that pose significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens."

Such conditions include "natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events," the State Department says.

Current country-specific travel alerts -- here -- are in effect for India, Bolivia and Kenya.

Tomorrow's travel alert for Europe will come within a general "Worldwide Caution" alert issued by the State Department in August for Americans abroad. Here is that one.


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