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Fearing terrorism, U.S. issues global travel alert

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The United States issued a global travel alert to American citizens on Friday, warning of the potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, carried out by operatives of Al Qaeda and their associates.

A bulletin to travelers and expatriates, issued by the State Department, came less than a day after the department announced that it was closing American diplomatic missions in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere through the weekend because of an unspecified terrorism threat.

“The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula,” read the bulletin, by the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. “Current information suggests that Al Qaeda 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.”

The bulletin did not advise against travel to any particular country, but it admonished American citizens to be particularly mindful of their surroundings, especially in tourist areas, and recommended that they register their travel plans wth the State Department.

“Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests,” the bulletin said. “U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services.”

Representative Ed Royce, a California Republican and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said earlier Friday that the warning was linked to a Qaeda threat focused on the Middle East and Central Asia.

Officials gave few details about what prompted the move to close an unusually large number of American missions, but said there was “credible” information that a Qaeda regional affiliate might be plotting an attack sometime in the coming days.

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