The U.S. State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert for all U.S. citizens. On November 23, the State Department issued the alert on social media, Fox13Now reports, as well as on the State Department website. The travel alert comes 10 days after the Paris terror attacks that killed 130 and left 350 injured and following a weekend that saw Brussels, Belgium on virtual lock-down while authorities scoured for terrorism suspects and believed an attack in that city was imminent.
Travel Alert: Authorities believe likelihood of terror attacks will continue as ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria/ Iraq. https://t.co/Ebm8Ny3Bom
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) November 23, 2015
When a concerned Twitter follower of the U.S. State Department replied to the warning, stating they were due to fly home from the United Kingdom in 12 hours and wondering if it would be safe to do so, they received the following, somewhat ominous reply. The reply seems to underscore the seriousness of the State Department’s travel warning.
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) November 23, 2015
The worldwide travel alert issued by the State Department doesn’t expire until February 24, 2016. This means it stretches throughout the entirety of the traditional U.S. holiday season and even well beyond. While the travel alert is “worldwide,” it doesn’t include travel within the United States itself. However, with the recent terror attacks abroad, it never hurts to be diligent and aware of your surroundings.
Authorities, according to Fox News, made the decision to issue the alert due to intelligence that indicates that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in several different regions around the globe. Specifically, the U.S. State Department is concerned about ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, as well as their affiliates.
The State Department also believes that there will be a continued threat of terror attacks worldwide due to the large numbers of ISIS members returning to their home nations from Iraq and Syria. The worldwide travel alert issued by the State Department also takes into account “lone wolf terrorists” – or those without direct affiliations or ties to known terrorist groups. There are fears that these unaffiliated individuals may engage in copycat attacks, or attacks inspired by some of the recent horrific terrorist attacks that have taken place around the world.
The U.S. State Department issued their worldwide travel alert on the same day that authorities in Brussels extended that city’s current terror alert level for the remainder of the week. Brussels is currently on that city’s highest level of terror alert.
The travel alert issued by the State Department follows some of the same advisories issued by authorities in Belgium. U.S. citizens traveling outside of the borders of the United States are being alerted to “exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation” and “avoid large crowds or crowded places.”
The U.S. State Department has advised citizens to remain up-to-date on the current worldwide travel advisory, either by checking the website of the State Department itself, or by following the State Department on Facebook and/or Twitter. Officials are urging U.S. citizens to stay vigilant while traveling, and to factor the most current updates into their travel itinerary. Of course, and as always, those who spot something suspicious or of concern while traveling abroad should report their concerns to local law enforcement.
Despite the travel alert, the State Department doesn’t want people to cancel their travel plans.
“We want folks to still travel, but just to exercise greater vigilance,”
In the last four-and-a-half years, six worldwide travel alerts have been issued by the U.S. State Department, so today’s alert announcement is not unprecedented. The U.S. State Department and other agencies are continuing to exchange intelligence information with global allies regarding the specific nature of the current international terrorism threat.
In the State Department’s worldwide travel alert, they provided some general advice to U.S. citizens about traveling abroad during this period of increased wariness.
- No matter where you are, follow the instructions of authorities and stay up-to-date with local media for travel alert updates.
- Make sure you keep in touch with family and friends. Let them know when/where you’re traveling/staying and how you can be reached.
- Be prepared for travel delays and additional security. Pack and budget your time accordingly.
- Global traveling U.S. citizens can register with the U.S. State Department STEP program, which will ensure you get the latest travel alert updates as well as make it easier to locate you in the event of a terrorist attack or other emergency.
If you are a U.S. citizen planning on international travel in the next three months, it’s imperative you take some time to understand the nature and implications of the State Department worldwide travel alert. There’s no reason to travel afraid, that’s not the purpose of these warnings. By staying up-to-date on the latest news and staying aware of your surroundings, you can use the State Department travel alert to your best advantage by traveling smart.
[Image via Shutterstock]