U.S. Issues Travel Alert for Americans in Europe

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  10.04.10 | 11:16 AM ET

The State Department alerted U.S. citizens in Europe yesterday to “the potential for terrorist attacks.” From the alert:

Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.

The government suggests U.S. travelers in Europe register their travel plans, but not cancel them. The Under Secretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy added some context in a teleconference:

We are not, repeat not, advising Americans not to go to Europe. That is not - this is an alert, and we put out an alert, as you said - as I’ve said, and I think you’ve noted, to ensure that American citizens are aware of the possible incidents.

Now, we tell them that - basically, to use common sense if they see unattended packages or they hear loud noises or they see something beginning to happen that they should quickly move away from them. These are common sense precautions that people ought to take - don’t have lots of baggage tags on your luggage that directly identify you as an American, know how to use the pay telephone, know how to contact the American embassy if you need help.

And very importantly, as it says in the Travel Alert that we put out today, register - and you can do that online and the website tells you how to do it - register with the American embassy or consulate in the location you’re visiting so that if you need help, we might be able to find you, and if anyone inquires about your welfare and whereabouts, should there be, tragically, an incident, we would know how to reach out to you.

The vagueness of the alert has baffled and frustrated some travelers.

In follow up stories, however, some news organizations are noting specifics. CNN points to intelligence chatter about “Mumbai-style attacks,” referring to the “commando like attack featuring small units and small firearms” across the Indian city in 2008. ABC reports several European airports are among potential targets.

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