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Oct 2nd, 2010

U.S. to Issue Travel Alert for Americans in Europe

Increased vigilance urged though no specific targets named in new al-Qaida threats


U.S. prepares to issue new travel caution (NBC Nightly News, Oct. 2, 2010) — According to a report, the alert — which comes amid signs that al-Qaida may be planning to attack targets in Western Europe — won’t address a specific country or landmark, but will instruct Americans to be vigilant when traveling overseas. NBC’s Tazeen Ahmad reports. (01:55)

The Associated Press and NBC News via
October 2, 2010

WASHINGTON — The U.S. State Department on Sunday will issue a travel “alert” urging American citizens to be vigilant as they travel in Europe, government officials told NBC News on Saturday.

The alert is due to new al-Qaida threats although officials have not identified specific targets that terrorists might be considering, NBC News said. …

“This travel alert is a cumulative result of information we have received over an extended period,” one senior administration official said. “We are constantly monitoring a range of threat streams and have monitored this and others for some time.” …

Officials have called the threat credible but not specific. …

Behind plots: Al-Qaida

Intelligence officials believe Osama bin Laden is behind the terror plots to attack several European cities. If this is true, this would be the most operational role that bin Laden has played in plotting attacks since Sept. 11, 2001.

Eight Germans and two British brothers are at the heart of an al-Qaida-linked terror plot against European cities, but the plan is still in its early stages, with the suspects calling acquaintances in Europe to plan logistics, a Pakistani intelligence official said Thursday.

One of the Britons died in a recent CIA missile strike, he said. The Pakistani official said the suspects are hiding in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region where militancy is rife and where the U.S. has focused many of its drone-fired missile strikes. …

Some U.S. allies in Europe have expressed concern about the proposed warning, saying it is an overreaction to the threat information, a position shared by some in the administration, the officials said.

Under a “no double standard” rule adopted after the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the government is obliged to share threat information that it has given diplomats and other officials with the general public.


Related report

Bin Laden involved in Europe terror plot (AP, Oct. 1, 2010) — Osama bin Laden has emerged as possibly a key figure in a plan to strike several European cities in a coordinated assault. The multi-pronged scope of the emerging plan — which aimed to launch coordinated shooting sprees or attacks in Britain, France and Germany — is an al-Qaida hallmark. … Full story



Officials on lookout for Mumbai-style attack? (NBC Nightly News, Oct. 2, 2010) — NBC’s Lester Holt speaks with NBC terrorism expert Roger Cressey. (02:15)


10/3/2010 Update

U.S. Warns Americans of Potential Terror Attacks in Europe

‘Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks’

October 3, 2010

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Sunday warned Americans of potential terrorist threats in Europe and urged them to be vigilant in public places, including tourist spots and transportation hubs.

A State Department travel alert advises U.S. citizens living or traveling in Europe to take more precautions about their personal security. The alert is one step below a formal travel warning advising Americans not to visit Europe.

“Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks,” it said. “European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.”

It noted in particular “the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.”

“U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling,” the department said. …

‘Could hit us at any moment’

U.S. and European security experts have been concerned for days that terrorists may be plotting attacks in Europe with assault weapons on public places, similar to the deadly 2008 shooting spree in Mumbai, India. …

The U.S. notice said terrorists “may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests” and noted past attacks against subways, rail systems and aviation and maritime services. …


Related reports on this site

New Post-9/11 Terrorist Strategy (Sept. 22, 2010)


Report warns of small-scale attacks by al Qaida (MSNBC, Sept. 25, 2010) — A Washington Post report says that the risk of small-scale attacks by al Qaida and its allies are on the rise. MSNBC’s Alex Witt talks with international terrorism consultant Evan Kolmann. (03:19)

Al-Qaida Releases 9/11 Audio Tape (Sept. 16, 2010)

Image: Ayman al-Zawahri
Ayman al-Zawahri is believed to be hiding in mountains along the Afghan-Pakistani border. (Photo credit: IntelCenter / As-Sahab via AP)

Taliban, Al-Qaida on the Move (April 22, 2010)

Image: Supporters of Pakistani religious group Jamaat-e-Islami
Supporters of a Pakistani religious group Jamaat-e-Islami burn an effigy of President Barack Obama during a rally in Lahore against U.S. drone attacks in tribal areas. (Photo credit: K. M. Chaudary / AP)

Al-Qaida Nuclear Terror Threat (April 9, 2010)

London's Tower Bridge. Nuclear terror risk to Britain from Al-Qaeda.
It is feared that terrorists could bring a nuclear bomb up the Thames on a small boat. (Photo credit: The Associated Press)

Al-Qaida Aims to Hit U.S. with WMD (Jan. 26, 2010)


WMD report gives government failing grade (Jan. 26, 2010) — A new report warns that the U.S. government is far behind in preparing for a biological or nuclear attack by terrorists. NBC’s Pete Williams reports. (01:50)

Al-Qaida’s Next High-Value Target (Jan. 18, 2010)

The White House roof in all its glory

Osama bin Laden Personality Profile (Dec. 6, 2009)

Ayman al-Zawahiri Personality Profile (June 3, 2009)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — October 2, 2009

Bachmann ‘School Sex Clinics’

Pants on Fire!One year ago today, I reported that U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, U.S. Fearmonger-in-Chief — as though vying for the title of “World’s Greatest Exaggerator” — made the histrionic claim that by fall 2010 “someone’s 13-year-old daughter could walk into a sex clinic, have a pregnancy test done, be taken away to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, have their abortion, be back, and go home on the school bus that night … [with] Mom and Dad … never the wiser.”


FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — October 2, 2008

After the Primary Election: Day 23

Two years ago today, on the 23rd day after losing my 2008 primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, in line with my focus on national security, I provided an update of key facts, figures, and statistics on Iraq since the war began in March 2003. I also reported on suicide bombings at two Shiite mosques in Baghdad that killed 24 people and wounded more than 50.

An Iraqi man grieves over the body of his younger brother after at least 24 people were killed outside two Baghdad mosques. (Photo credit: Helmiy Al Azawi / Reuters)

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