Travel Alert to Americans

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UPDATE: “Today, the Department of State ordered a reduction in the number of emergency U.S. Government personnel in Yemen.” http://go.usa.gov/jVne

On Thursday August 2, 2013 The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs issued a Travel Alert to Americans, who may already be or have future plans to be traveling internationally during the month of August:

“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. This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2013.” http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/pa/pa_6042.html

The unspecified threat was addressed yesterday during the State Departments Daily Press Briefing in Washington, DC by Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf, who spoke not only in regard to the Travel Advisory, but also to the open-ended threat emanating from the Arabian Peninsula, which resulted in the August 4, 2013 closure of 19 U.S. Embassies.

“Posts in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa, Tripoli, Antananarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali, and Port Louis are instructed to close for normal operations Monday, August 5 through Saturday, August 10.” http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2013/08/212660.htm

In the hours to follow this briefing, we have learned that there was a threat, which correlated terrorist cells in Yemen with top al-Qa’ida officials and was grave enough to raise concerns among many of the United State’s strongest allies as well… among the nations who have proceeded to also closing embassies around the world: Germany, France, Holland and The United Kingdom. There were two recurring themes Ms. Harf addressed, which I was interested in understanding a little better…

“I will say that we said this weekend when we put out the Travel Alert that this threat emanates from the Arabian Peninsula. Clearly, AQAP is the most active terrorist organization there and has been the most operationally active affiliate of al-Qaida core…”-Ms. Harf http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2013/08/212714.htm#DEPARTMENT

AQAP and Eid… Eid or Eid Al-Fitr is the celebratory holiday observed at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. This is feast that breaks the fast, oddly enough this is the day that extremists have chosen to surround negative connotations towards Islam, when the truth behind Eid Al-Fitr is actually meant in thanksgiving for Muslims around the world to show a common goal of unity. AQAP is the abbreviation for, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, this Militant Islamist factor of al-Qa’ida, is presently active in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Its foundation was to honor Osama Bin Laden, who held strong ties to both lands and this branch is considered to be the most active al-Qa’ida factor present in the region. Formed in 2009 AQAP is based in Yemen, believed to have growing membership and although the US has identified killing many of AQAP senior officials, they are the most prominent threat to our national security emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.

“First, we’ve made very clear that we’re going to continue pursuing terrorists who want to attack the United States…But at the same time, we’ve all made clear, from the President on down that we remain very concerned about the affiliates, al-Qa’ida affiliates throughout the world. And in that – first on that list is always AQAP, which is why we are going to maintain vigilance against – I can never say that word, excuse me – vigilance against al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula when we think they are plotting or planning attacks against the U.S. And we’ve seen them, in fact, plan external operations.”

If you happen to be in the region please stay vigilant to your surroundings, caution when using public transportation and make sure to establish contact with the US Department of State, “each of our posts has an emergency contact information for U.S. citizens in the country. One of the things that we do is encourage U.S. citizens when they visit a country to register with the State Department.”

You can do so, here: https://travelregistration.state.gov

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