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Messages for U.S. Citizens
 

 Worldwide Caution

July 18, 2012

The Department of State has issued this Worldwide
Caution to update information on the continuing threat
of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens
and interests throughout the world.  U.S. citizens are
reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to
take appropriate steps to increase their security
awareness.  This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated
January 24, 2012, to provide updated information on
security threats and terrorist activities worldwide.

The Department of State remains concerned about the
continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations,
and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and
interests overseas.  Current information suggests that
al-Qaida, its affiliated organizations, and other
terrorist organizations continue to plan terrorist
attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions,
including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics
including suicide operations, assassinations,
kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings. 

Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-
conventional weapons, and target both official and
private interests.  Examples of such targets include
high-profile sporting events, residential areas,
business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of
worship, schools, public areas, and other tourist
destinations both in the United States and abroad where
U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during
holidays.
 

U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for
terrorists to attack public transportation systems and
other tourist infrastructure.  Extremists have targeted
and attempted attacks on subway and rail systems,
aviation, and maritime services.  In the past, these
types of attacks have occurred in cities such as Moscow,
London, Madrid, Glasgow, and New York City.

EUROPE:  Current information suggests that al-Qaida,
its affiliated organizations and other terrorist groups
continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. and
Western interests in Europe.  European governments have
taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and
some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat
conditions.  In the past several years, attacks have
been planned or occurred in various European cities.

MIDDLE EAST and NORTH AFRICA:  Credible information
indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks
against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North
Africa.  For example, Iraq remains dangerous and
unpredictable.  U.S. military forces were withdrawn as
of December 31, 2011 but the threat of attacks against
U.S. citizens, including kidnapping and terrorist
violence, is expected to continue.  Methods of attack
have included roadside improvised explosive devices,
mortars, and shootings.  Terrorist organizations
continue to be active in Yemen, including al-Qaida in
the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).  A U.S. citizen was
attacked and killed in Taiz on March 18 and the press
reports that AQAP claimed responsibility.    Security
threat levels remain high in Yemen due to terrorist
activities there and the U.S. government remains highly
concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens,
facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western
interests.  U.S. citizens have also been the targets of
numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past
(though none recently) and the threat of anti-Western
terrorist activity continues to exist there.  In
Algeria, terrorist attacks occur regularly, particularly
in the Kabylie region of the country.  In the past,
terrorists have targeted oil processing facilities in
both Saudi Arabia and Yemen.  Some elements in Iran
remain hostile to the United States.  U.S. citizens
should remain cautious and be aware that there may be a
more aggressive focus by the Iranian government on
terrorist activity against U.S citizens.

The events of last year's Arab Spring, which
affected many countries in the Middle East including
Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, resulted in
civil unrest and large-scale protests and
demonstrations.  U.S. citizens are warned that
demonstrations intended to be peaceful can escalate into
violent clashes.  U.S. citizens are also reminded that
demonstrations and riots can occur with little or no
warning.  U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of
demonstrations if possible and to exercise caution if
within the vicinity of a demonstration.

AFRICA:  A number of al-Qaida operatives and other
extremists are believed to be operating in and around
Africa.  In February 2012, the emir of U.S-designated
Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab and al-Qaida's
leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, announced the alliance of the
two organizations.  Al-Shabaab assassinations, suicide
bombings, and indiscriminate attacks in civilian-
populated areas are frequent in Somalia.  The terrorist
attacks in Somalia in late 2011 against the Transitional
Federal Government (TFG) and African Union (AU)
peacekeeping forces in Somalia that have killed numerous
civilians in various districts around Mogadishu, as well
as at least 17 attacks involving grenades or explosive
devices in Kenya over the past year, highlight the
vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks in East Africa and
around the world.  Additionally, the terrorist group al-
Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has
declared its intention to attack Western targets
throughout the Sahel (which includes Mali, Mauritania,
and Niger).  It has claimed responsibility for
kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of
several Westerners throughout the region, including
southern Algeria.  The loosely organized group of
factions known as Boko Haram continues to carry out
significant improvised explosive device and suicide
bombings in northern Nigeria, mainly targeting
government forces and innocent civilians; attacks have
increased since their attack on the UN building in the
capital of Abuja last year.  The President of Nigeria
declared a state of emergency in certain areas in
response to activities of extremist groups.

U.S. citizens considering travel by sea near the
Horn of Africa or in the southern Red Sea should
exercise extreme caution, as there have been armed
attacks, robberies, and kidnappings for ransom by
pirates.  Merchant vessels continue to be hijacked in
Somali territorial waters, while others have been
hijacked as far as 1,000 nautical miles off the coast of
Somalia, Yemen, and Kenya in international waters.

The U.S. government maritime authorities advise
mariners to avoid the port of Mogadishu and to remain at
least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.  In
addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa or
in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels
travel in convoys and maintain good communications at
all times. U.S. citizens traveling on commercial
passenger vessels should consult with the shipping or
cruise ship company regarding precautions that will be
taken to avoid hijacking incidents.  Commercial vessels
should review the Department of Transportation Maritime
Administration's Horn of Africa Piracy page for
information on maritime advisories, self-protection
measures, and naval forces in the region.  Review our
International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet for information
on piracy in the southern Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, and
the Indian Ocean.


SOUTH ASIA:  The U.S. government continues to
receive information that terrorist groups in South Asia
may also be planning attacks in the region, possibly
against U.S. government facilities, U.S. citizens, or
U.S. interests.  The presence of al-Qaida, Taliban
elements, Lashkar-e-Taiba, indigenous sectarian groups,
and other terror organizations, many of which are on the
U.S. government's list of Foreign Terror Organizations
(FTOs), poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the
region.  Terrorists and their sympathizers have
demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack
targets where U.S. citizens or Westerners are known to
congregate or visit.  Their actions may include, but are
not limited to, vehicle-born explosive attacks,
improvised explosive device attacks, assassinations,
carjackings, rocket attacks, assaults, or kidnappings.

Such attacks have occurred in a number of South
Asian states, including Pakistan, where a number of
extremist groups continue to target U.S. and other
Western citizens and interests, and Pakistani government
and military/law enforcement personnel.  Suicide bombing
attacks continue to occur throughout the country on a
regular basis, often targeting government authorities
such as police checkpoints and military installations,
as well as public areas such as mosques, and shopping
areas.  Kidnappings of U.S. citizens are also on the
increase.  No part of Afghanistan should be considered
immune from violence, and the potential exists
throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted
or random, against U.S. and other Western nationals at
any time.  Elements of the Taliban and the al-Qaida
terrorist network, as well as other groups hostile to
International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) military
operations, remain active.  There is an ongoing threat
of kidnapping and assassination of U.S. citizens and
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers throughout
the country.  India continues to experience terrorist
and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens
directly or indirectly.  Anti-Western terrorist groups,
some on the U.S. government's list of designated Foreign
Terrorist Organizations, are active in India, including
Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-
Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-
e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba.  Terrorists have
targeted public places in India frequented by
Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains,
train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and
restaurants in large urban areas.

CENTRAL ASIA: Supporters of terrorist groups such
as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qaida, the
Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic
Movement remain active in Central Asia.  These groups
have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to
target U.S. government interests.

Before You Go

The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens
living overseas or planning to travel abroad to enroll
in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  When
you enroll in STEP, we can keep you up to date with
important safety and security announcements.  Enrolling
will also make it easier for the Embassy to contact you
in the event of an emergency.  You should remember to
keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is
particularly important when you enroll or update your
information to include a current phone number and e-mail
address.

U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a
high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and
take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal
security.  For additional information, please refer to
"A Safe Trip Abroad" on our website,
http://travel.state.gov/.

U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a
heightened state of alert.  These facilities may
temporarily close or periodically suspend public
services to assess their security posture.  In those
instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every
effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens.
U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news
and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or
consulate.

As the Department of State continues to develop
information on potential security threats to U.S.
citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information
through its Consular Information Program documents,
including Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, Country
Specific Information, and Emergency Messages, all of
which are available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs
website at http://travel.state.gov/.  Stay up to date by
bookmarking our website or downloading our free Smart
Traveler iPhone App for travel information at your
fingertips.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of
Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

In addition to information on the internet,
travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security
conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the
United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a
regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are
available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday,
Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

U.S. Embassy Banjul

You can stay in touch and get Embassy updates by checking the U.S. Embassy Banjul web site (http://banjul.usembassy.gov/).

The U.S. Embassy in Banjul  (http://banjul.usembassy.gov/ ) is located on 92 Kairaba Avenue in Fajara; mailing address is PMB 19, Banjul, The Gambia.  The Embassy telephone number is (220) 439-2856.  The Embassy fax number is (220) 439-2475. 

For after-hours emergencies, U.S. citizens should call (220) 796-2710 for the duty officer.