The United States Department of State has issued a worldwide travel alert in the wake of the recent Paris attacks and the subsequent terrorist threats that have since emerged, according to a statement released on Monday.
The worldwide travel alert is expected to stay in effect till February 24, 2016 – much beyond the festive season – with the United States’ intelligence agencies confirming reports that possible attacks from militants belonging to Islamic State, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram may continue in multiple regions. A part of the statement released by the State Department read as follows:
“Current information suggests that ISIL [Islamic State], al-Qaida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.”
Apart from the aforementioned terrorist groups, the State Department has also earmarked certain other fringe groups as possible threats that may engage in violence of their own during the next three months, according to CS Monitor.
In November alone, extremist groups have targeted sporting events, theaters, and open markets around the world, with Paris, Nigeria, Mali, and Lebanon bearing the brunt most severely. Furthermore, Islamic State also took the responsibility of the for the Oct. 31 bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt, which killed 224 people.
With Thanksgiving holiday and the Black Friday shopping extravaganza being around the corner, and Christmas and New Year to follow, U.S. officials fear that terrorist groups may plan similar attacks around the region, and have therefore advised citizens to be more vigilant of their surroundings.
According to Voice of America, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) usually sees two million people commute in a day, but that figure is expected to jump by 40 percent with people traveling to meet their families for Thanksgiving. Though the worldwide travel alert most applies to commuters traveling outside the United States, the State Department warned that people traveling within the country should also take all the necessary precautions.
Some of the more important precautions suggested by the United States Department of State are mentioned below:
- U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places.
- Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.
- U.S. citizens should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
- Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country.
- Be prepared for additional security screening and possible disruptions and to keep in touch with relatives to ensure they can make contact in the event of an emergency.
Having said that, the State Department also underlined that these alerts do not necessarily spring from credible information about possible terrorist attacks on US soil. The FBI had earlier said that it had found no credible threat specific to United States’ territories, but had mentioned that global terrorist activities may see a rise following the attacks on Paris.
Last week, Americans refused to be intimidated by propaganda videos, attributed to the Islamic State, with one of them showing New York City as a potential target for extremist groups. However, it prompted authorities to seek out innovative ways to weed out threats. On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a new mobile app, called “See Something, Send Something,” which is designed to encourage New Yorkers to report suspicious activity.
So, although citizens should not fret too much about the worldwide travel alert unless traveling outside the United States, it will do no harm to remain vigilant and conscious of one’s surroundings during the holiday season.
[Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images]