The State Department of the United States has issued a travel alert for US citizens who may be planning travel to Europe, those already traveling in Europe and those who may be living or studying in Europe. The crux of the matter is that a recently captured terrorist has apparently revealed that Al Qa’ida operatives are in the planning stages for launching terrorist attacks in Europe similar to the one that happened in Mumbai, India in 2008. While the cell in question has been penetrated and appears to be in disarray, it is thought that others may be planning similar operations in Europe and elsewhere.
By the way, in the jargon of the State Department, travel alerts are defined as follows. “Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions that pose significant risks to U.S. Citizens. Natural disasters, terrorist attacks, coups, anniversaries of terrorist events, election-related demonstrations or violence, and high-profile events such as international conferences or regional sports events are examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert.” Travel Alerts, such as the one just issued for Europe do not mean that the government will prohibit you from traveling to a location, only that it wants to inform you of potential risks that may exist at the location.
The State Department, also, issues another, more severe form of advisory called a Travel Warning when they want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. At this time, they have not issued a Travel Warning for Europe.
As we have noted previously, terrorism is a fact of modern life that each of us has to decide how we will deal with. Some will plan their vacations and have a wonderful time while abroad. Others will be nervous wrecks while traveling and not enjoy their trip. Still others will decide to delay travel until sometime in the future when they feel more comfortable with the terrorism situation. The reality is that each of these choices are appropriate for various individuals and this leads to the conclusion that you, as an individual, must evaluate the risk of travel against the rewards and decide to travel or not based on your values and intuition.
Our role is to attempt to provide you with the information that might help you make your travel decision. Below, we present the complete text of the State Department Travel Alert on Europe.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Consular Affairs
October 3, 2010
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.
Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.
We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.
We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from elsewhere in the world.
For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country-Specific Information as well as the Worldwide Caution, which can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. For further information on safety tips while traveling abroad, U.S. citizens should also consult the following website: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/tips_1232.html
This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2011.
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