Amidst the war between Israel and Hamas, the U.S. State Department has issued a worldwide security alert for American citizens abroad. The advisory comes in the wake of heightened tensions triggered by Hamas’ recent terror attack on Israel and the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.
U.S. officials have urged travelers to exercise increased caution. The decision was reached “due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests.”
Worldwide Caution: Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State @StateDept advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased… pic.twitter.com/waIpqmWu2m
— Travel – State Dept (@TravelGov) October 19, 2023
Todd Brown, a retired senior State Department official, told CNN that the potential for escalation “is not limited to the Middle East.” He noted that it could spread to Europe amid growing dissatisfaction with the Israeli government’s actions in the Gaza Strip.
Expressing concerns over U.S. citizens’ safety, the State Department emphasized the need for vigilance in popular tourist destinations. This recent cautionary measure follows a previous warning given in August 2022. It was issued after a counterterrorism operation in Afghanistan that led to the demise of al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
In response to the mounting protests associated with the war, the State Department has directed its embassies and consulates worldwide to conduct emergency security reviews. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has instructed personnel to evaluate the necessity of issuing alerts regarding potential threats posed by the demonstrations.
However, as of now, there has been no request for authorized departure or evacuation from any additional embassies. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland highlighted the Justice Department’s increased vigilance over reported threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities.
Europe on Alert for Hamas-Linked Terror Wave
Europe braced for a fresh wave of terror attacks following a firebomb assault on a Berlin synagogue and suspected Islamist extremist killings in Belgium and France, as reported by numerous news outlets. Experts cautioned that the conflict in the Middle East might exacerbate terrorist activities globally, citing the resurgence of jihadist motivations amidst the unfolding crisis.
European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas underscored the urgency to safeguard Jewish communities and combat the rise of Islamophobia in society during a meeting of European Union interior ministers. French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the mounting threat of Islamist terrorism across European states.
He specifically referenced a recent attack in Brussels claimed by an individual associated with the Islamic State. Europol’s Executive Director, Catherine De Bolle, expressed concerns over the influence of online platforms aimed at radicalizing youth. She emphasized the need for proactive measures to address potential security risks, as highlighted in an interview with ABC News.
In discussions with Euronews, Belgian terrorism specialist Claude Moniquet pointed to the motivation stemming from the Israel-Hamas conflict. According to Moniquet, this contributes to an upsurge in jihadist activities. He also highlighted the prevalence of small-scale attacks in Europe, underscoring the persisting challenge of radical ideologies.