WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — The United States has issued a global travel alert because of an al-Qaeda terrorist threat.
The State Department warned American citizens of the potential for terrorism particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, with a possible attack occurring or coming from the Arabian Peninsula.
The department said in a statement that al-Qaeda and its affiliated organizations “continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond and that “they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August.”
“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,” the statement said. “U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.”
The alert suggests travelers sign up for State Department alerts and register with consulates or embassies in the countries they are visiting.
“The department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety,” said Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the State Department.
The State Department has not released any specifics about the threat or where it originated, but said it is acting out of an abundance of caution.
Congressman Peter King said the threat is being taken very seriously and everybody needs to be alert.
“We’re not certain exactly where something might happen but it’s very specific as to when and it’s also very specific as to the fact that it is going to happen, so we have to be on alert everywhere,” King told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria.
“I would let the American Embassy know where you are. Basically check in and where you are and how long you plan to stay there and what your itinerary is,” Rep. King told CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco.
The travel alert comes a day after the U.S. announced that it would shutter its embassies and consulates throughout the Muslim world on Sunday, and possibly longer.
In the meantime some travelers said they are going to try to keep things business as usual.
“I leave it to the experts, people who know what they doing,” the Bronx’s Vinny Caserta told CBS 2’s Dick Brennan at Kennedy Airport on Friday.
Sunday is a workday in the Muslim world. American diplomatic missions in Europe, Latin America and many other places are closed on Sunday.
The State Department issued a major warning last year informing American diplomatic facilities across the Muslim world about potential violence connected to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
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