Travel Alert to Americans Traveling to Europe
The U.S. State Department issued an alert on Sunday urging Americans traveling to Europe to be vigilant about possible terrorist attacks in a statement that specifically cites the potential involvement of Al Qaida. The British government, meanwhile, raised the threat of terrorism to “high” from “general” for Britons in France and Germany.
United States Department of State Travel Alert (state.gov)
Bin Laden Resurfaces in Recordings (October 3, 2010)
Officials Say Intelligence Points to Plots by Al Qaeda to Attack European Cities (September 30, 2010)
The decisions to caution travelers came as counterterrorism officials in Europe and the United States are assessing intelligence about possible plots originating in Pakistan and North Africa aimed at Britain, France and Germany.
The U.S. travel alert urges extra caution and does not discourage Americans from visiting Europe. An American official who confirmed the warning on Saturday, who did not want to be identified speaking about internal government deliberations, said a stronger “travel warning” that might advise Americans not to visit Europe was not under consideration. European officials have been concerned about the impact on tourism and student travel from any official guidance to American travelers.
“Current information suggests that Al Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack,” according to the State Department statement.
“U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure,” the State Department said. “Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services.”
American intelligence officials said last week that they were pursuing reports of possible attacks against European cities, including information from a German citizen of Afghan origin captured in Afghanistan in July. The German, said to be named Ahmed Sidiqi, 36, from Hamburg, had traveled to the Waziristan region of Pakistan and received firearms and explosives training, a senior European official told The New York Times.
Mr. Sidiqi described plans for attacks by small armed groups in European cities, the official said. Other officials have said such attacks might be modeled on the 2008 assault in Mumbai. Those attacks, attributed to a radical Islamic group based in Pakistan, killed at least 173 people.
In August, the State Department renewed a “worldwide alert,” saying officials remained “concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks” against Americans overseas.
The British Foreign Office in London declined to comment on why it raised its terrorism advisory on Sunday, Reuters reported.