Al-Qaida Threat: What You Need To Know In August

The vague Al-Qaida threat that encompasses the month of August and a large number of countries seems to have confused more Americans than it has “warned,” but officials remain tight-lipped about why such a broad, disruptive caution was issued.

Americans learned of an Al-Qaida threat Friday night, one that urged travelers to be “on alert” in certain countries, but the warning stopped short of advising the cancellation or rescheduling of travel plans, even in affected regions.

The scant amount we do know about the Al-Qaida threat is that it is said to have originated in Yemen. Following on from that, the ensuing preventive measures have shuttered embassies in many countries across the Middle East, and some experts on risk say discretionary travel should be reconsidered.

The Wall Street Journal explains as Americans attempt to make sense of the Al-Qaida threat’s practical aspects:

“William Daly, who heads the New York office of Control Risks Group LLC, a global consultancy specializing in political and security risk, said his firm was telling its business clients as of Friday not to cancel trips—but suggested it would be prudent to postpone discretionary travel.”

In the wake of the Al-Qaida threat, the paper also says in a warning FAQ that anyone traveling can take special measures to ensure that in the event of an attack or other event. The State Department has extant programs to ensure travelers can avail themselves of embassy services and other assistance should the intelligence bear out:

“The State Department alert recommends U.S. citizens register their plans through its travel registration website, and it “strongly recommend[s]” that U.S. citizens traveling abroad enroll in the department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which sends security updates and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact travelers… It also suggests travelers regularly monitor the department’s website and follow it on Twitter, and follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook. The department also has a free Smart Traveler app.”

All the publicly available information on the Al-Qaida threat can be viewed on the State Department’s website. Answers to specific questions about travel can be found in a full warning, and information about embassy and consulate closures can be viewed by clicking here.

But the Al-Qaida threat warning remains vague, and apart from lack of advisory to cancel travel, the main caution appears to be “stay alert.”