After major terror attacks in recent months, the U.S. Department of State has issued a Worldwide Caution as of Jan. 9. The department’s caution was meant to warn U.S. citizens to exercise caution while abroad.
The Worldwide Caution comes not long after the terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, based in Paris. It was the third major terrorist attack in less than four months, spurring the State Department to issue its warning to travelers hailing from the U.S. In October a terrorist killed a soldier near the Canadian Parliament. And before that an alleged ISIL sympathizer in Australia stabbed two officers who brought him to the station for questioning.
“Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” reads the caution.
The State Department urges citizens who plan to travel abroad or who are already in another country to use extreme care and vigilance in the event that a terrorist attack does occur. In addition to the general warning, the Worldwide Caution includes basic information on the security of various regions across the globe, as well as suggestions for how to handle being in such countries.
According to the caution, U.S. citizens and tourist infrastructure are selected as targets because of affiliation with the U.S. government. ISIL and al-Qaida have begun to use kidnapping as a means for financing terrorist activity, and they view Americans as prime targets.
Other than general warning, the Worldwide Caution does not accomplish much. However, the State Department diligently updates its website and offers more information on how to remain safe while abroad. Additionally, the State Department recommends people enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Not only will enrollees be kept up-to-date with security announcements and alerts, but enrollment in the program makes it easier for an embassy to contact enrollees in case of an emergency.
For more information, visit travel.state.gov or following the department via social media.