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State Dept Issues Worldwide Caution Against Terrorist Attacks Targeting US

The United States has renewed its Worldwide Caution on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.

In a Worldwide Caution update issued on Thursday, the Department of State reminded that U.S. citizens are to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. The renewal comes at the expiry of information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide, issued on September 25, 2013.

The Department of State said it remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Kidnappings and hostage events involving U.S. citizens have become increasingly prevalent as al Qaeda and its affiliates have increased attempts to finance their operations through kidnapping for ransom operations. Kidnapping targets are usually Western citizens from governments or third parties that have established a pattern of paying ransoms for the release of individuals in custody. Current information suggests that al-Qaeda, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan and encourage kidnappings of U.S. citizens and Westerners. U.S. citizens have been advised to closely monitor Travel Warnings and Alerts, as well as Country Specific Information, on the Department of State's travel website to review the latest safety and security information for destination countries.

Information also suggests that al-Qaeda and its 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.

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, shopping malls, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.

Current information suggests that al-Qaeda, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. and Western interests in Europe. Additionally, there is a continuing threat in Europe from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis.

Credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa.

U.S. citizens considering travel by sea near the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, or in the southern Red Sea have been advised to exercise extreme caution, as there have been armed attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom by pirates.

U.S. government maritime authorities advise mariners to avoid the port of Mogadishu and to remain at least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia. In addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa, the Gulf of Guinea, or in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys and maintain good communications at all times. U.S. citizens traveling on commercial passenger vessels should consult with the shipping or cruise ship company regarding precautions that will be taken to avoid hijacking incidents.

The U.S. government continues to receive information that terrorist groups in South Asia may also be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. government facilities, U.S. citizens, or U.S. interests. The presence of al-Qaeda, Taliban elements, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organizations poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the region, the State Department said.

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