State Department Updates Travel Alert – Urges Worldwide Caution

The Department of State has issued this Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.

The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Americans are reminded that demonstrations and rioting can occur with little or no warning. Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings. The following incidents illustrate the continuing desire of extremists to strike American targets and perceived interests: On January 25, terrorists exploded a bomb outside three major hotels favored by Western journalists in the center of Baghdad, killing at least 37 and wounding more than 100; on October 5, 2009, five people were killed and about 10 were injured, including one U.S. citizen, by a bombing near the offices of the United Nations World Food Program in Islamabad, Pakistan; on August 15, 2009, a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Headquarters, not far from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, killing at least seven people and injuring nearly 90 more.

Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and locales where Americans gather in large numbers, including during holidays. On January 1, 2010, a suicide bomber attacked spectators at a volleyball game in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. The attack killed at least 95 people. On December 28, 2009, a suicide bomber attacked a Shiite religious procession in Karachi, killing at least 22 people and injuring more than 60. On October 28, 2009, a UN guest house in Kabul was attacked, killing five UN workers, including one American. On the same day, two rockets struck the foreigner-frequented Serena Hotel and the President Palace, also in central Kabul city.

Americans are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems. On December 25, 2009, a Nigerian national attempted to detonate a bomb on board a U.S. airliner landing in Detroit; Yemen-based al-Qa’ida affiliates claimed responsibility for the incident. Police officers arrested a man with explosives at the New Delhi Railway station in New Delhi, India on August 25, 2009; and suspected Maoist rebels detonated several explosives at the railway station in Orissa, India on the same day. Other incidents include multiple anti-personnel mine detonations on passenger buses in June 2008 in Sri Lanka, multiple terrorist attacks on trains in India in 2006, the July 2005 London Underground bombings, and the March 2004 train attacks in Madrid. Extremists also may select aviation and maritime services as possible targets, such as the August 2006 plot against aircraft in London, or the December 2006 bomb at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport. In June 2007, a vehicle was driven into the main terminal at Glasgow International Airport and burst into flames, but the bomb failed to detonate.

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