On Monday, the U.S. Department of State released a disturbing alert to Americans planning to travel overseas, especially in countries that once appeared safe for tourists and business travelers, according to the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Along with the alerts promulgated by law enforcement and security organizations such as Interpol (International Police Association), Scotland Yard (London Metropolitan Police) and Europol (European Union Police Association), security officials at the U.S. State Department released there own alert.
Recent, widely-reported incidents in France, Russia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom demonstrate that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe. While local governments continue counterterrorism operations, the State Department nevertheless remains concerned about the potential for future terrorist attacks. U.S. citizens should always be alert to the possibility that terrorist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks with little or no warning.
Extremists continue to focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets. In addition, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports, and other soft targets remain priority locations for possible attacks. U.S. citizens should exercise additional vigilance in these and similar locations, in particular during the upcoming summer travel season when large crowds may be common.
Terrorists persist in employing a variety of tactics, including firearms, explosives, using vehicles as ramming devices, and sharp-edged weapons that are difficult to detect prior to an attack.
If you are traveling between countries in Europe, please check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate in your destination city for any recent security messages. Review security information from local officials, who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country. U.S. citizens should also:
Follow the instructions of local authorities. Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
Have an emergency plan of action ready.
Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
We continue to work closely with our European partners and allies on the threat from international terrorism. Information is routinely shared between the United States and our key partners to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.
Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
Jim Kouri is a member of the Board of Advisors and a former vice president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, Inc. a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization incorporated in Florida in May 1967. The Association was organized for educational and charitable activities for law enforcement officers in command ranks and supervisory agents of state & federal law enforcement agencies as well as leaders in the private security sector. NACOP also provides funding to small departments, officers and the families of those officers paralyzed and disabled in the line of duty.