State Department issues alert to travelers in wake of attacks

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department issued a monthslong worldwide travel alert Monday to U.S. citizens about possible risks of travel because of increased terrorist threats.

On Monday, the alert says that terrorist groups such as ISIL, al-Qaida and Boko Haram continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions, causing that State Department to urge U.S. citizens to exercise vigilance when in public places or when using transportation.

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“These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests,” the alert says.

The travel alert expires on Feb. 24, 2016.

The alert lets Americans know of the threat and asks them to exercise caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events. It says travelers should be vigilant when traveling abroad and be wary of large crowds.

The travel alert comes after recent attacks in France and Mali that ISIL has claimed responsibility for.

WTOP’s National Security Correspondent JJ Green says an alert like this is not unusual and similar alerts are issued annually around the holidays in a post-9/11 world. However, he says the warning has added significance given the recent terror threats and attacks.

“Right now, looking at the intense and worrying situation in the EU, the instability in the Middle East and concern about attacks in Africa and parts of Asia, this warning takes on special significance,” Green says.

Green says the alert doesn’t discourage people from traveling. Instead it promotes awareness.

“Awareness is the ultimate anti-terror tool and that is what authorities want people to remember,” he says. “The alert isn’t saying ‘don’t travel,’ but when you do, make certain contingencies”

The State Department says U.S. citizens should:

  • Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

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