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US warns citizens vs travel abroad amid terror threats

THE US State Department has warned its citizens traveling abroad about continuing terrorist threats worldwide.

In the State Department’s Worldwide Caution updated on Sept. 13, it said that there is continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against US citizens and interests throughout the world. 

“Current information suggests that terrorist groups continue to plan attacks in multiple regions.  Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that US citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” the security message to US citizens said.  This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated March 3, 2016.
   
The security message said ISIL (aka Da’esh) has called on supporters to attack US citizens and coalition partners wherever they are.
   
In the past year, the State Department noted that major terrorist attacks occurred in Belgium, France, Germany, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh among others.  
   
Authorities believe there is a continued likelihood of attacks against US, Western, and coalition partner interests throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia, it said.
   
The security message said U.S. citizens have been kidnapped and murdered by members of terrorist and violent extremist groups and US citizens continue to be at risk of kidnappings and hostage events as ISIL/Da’esh, Taliban elements, al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates attempt to finance their operations through kidnapping-for-ransom operations.
   
Extremists may use conventional or non-conventional weapons to target official government and private interests.
   
Recent attacks indicate that extremists remain interested in attacking “soft” targets, such as: high-profile public events, hotels, clubs, and restaurants, places of worship, schools, shopping malls and markets, tourism infrastructure, public transportation systems, events where Westerners gather in large numbers, including during holidays.
   
The security message said information from credible sources suggests that there is a continued risk of armed terrorist and criminal groups operating and planning attacks against foreigners, including US citizens, in the East Asian and Pacific region.
   
“Over the past year, many regional extremists have shown strong aspirations to join ISIL/Da’esh and pursue its goals.  Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf Group have cells operating throughout Southeast Asia and JI is linked to al-Qa’ida and other regional terrorist groups.”
   
It added “there is a risk of travel to the southern Philippines, specifically related to kidnapping threats in the Sulu archipelago and the ongoing threat of violence on the island of Mindanao, particularly in Central Mindanao.”
   
Foreigners in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia are also targets for kidnappings for ransom.  Criminal or terrorist bands may attempt to intercept boats ferrying tourists in the area as well.