The State Department updated its worldwide caution alert today to incorporate new intelligence about a potential looming threat from al-Qaeda.
“The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and 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,” states the alert, which is good through the end of the month.
“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,” it continues.
“We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from 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.”
This alert is on top of the worldwide caution the State Department continually updates for travelers, and comes after the announcement that U.S. embassies across the Middle East and North Africa would temporarily close Sunday.
It also comes less than two weeks after al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab claimed to have killed a veteran CIA official in a suicide bombing that hit an African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy in Mogadishu.
President Obama has been steadily keeping on his “al-Qaeda is on the run” message from the campaign trail, asserting that the terror group’s capability has been severely degraded.
In a May speech at the National Defense University, Obama was eager to first link Islamic terrorism solely to al-Qaeda, distance al-Qaeda from known active affiliates, then distance al-Qaeda from all recent attacks.
“Today, the core of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on a path to defeat. Their remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety than plotting against us. They did not direct the attacks in Benghazi or Boston. They have not carried out a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11,” he said, calling the threat “more diffuse” with al-Qaeda affiliates such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
He segmented Benghazi and the attack on the BP oil facility in Algeria as “localized threats…in which local operatives – in loose affiliation with regional networks – launch periodic attacks against Western diplomats, companies, and other soft targets, or resort to kidnapping and other criminal enterprises to fund their operations.”
“We face a real threat from radicalized individuals here in the United States,” Obama continued. “Whether it’s a shooter at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, a plane flying into a building in Texas, or the extremists who killed 168 people at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, America has confronted many forms of violent extremism in our history.”