The recent terrorist attacks in France, Australia, and Canada have prompted the United States to issue a worldwide travel alert, as of Friday night.
The travel alert came on the heels of French police killing three hostage-takers. In one of these instances, police were reported to have killed two of the men responsible for the Wednesday attack on Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine located in Paris which had recently published cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Twelve people were killed by terrorists in the attack on the magazine.
Cherif and Said Kouachi, the two men killed by police who were involved in the Charlie Hebdo attack, told a television station in France that they were sent by Yemen’s al Qaeda.
The new travel alert from the U.S. State Department cites attacks against Americans becoming more likely and frequent. The travel warning says that there is a risk of attack against American targets during international travel, as well as other western targets during travel, because of the U.S. having increased involved in leading a coalition into fighting Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq.
The attacks in Paris and the U.S. involvement in the Middle East were not the only reasons given for the travel alert, though, as the alert also mentions the December standoff at a Sydney, Australia, cafe and the October murder of a soldier near Canada’s Parliament.
The travel alert urges Americans to become more vigilant and maintain high security awareness while traveling.
“Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.”
In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security also put out a new joint intelligence bulletin following the attacks. The bulletin assessed the Paris attack of having “a greater degree of sophistication and advance weapons handling” than most attacks involving smaller firearms. The bulletin also says the attack was carried out with skill and confidence that might point to the terrorists undergoing training prior to the attack.
The joint bulletin goes on to note that there are not any known threats against the United States presently, but it does say that overseas groups remain likely to plan attacks against American and western targets. United States citizens are urged to travel with caution and awareness of their surroundings.
Travel alerts and warnings are not uncommon, as the State Department currently has them posted for Americans traveling to several countries. The worldwide travel alert is set to expire on March 15.
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