Following the US drone strike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri – a key planner of Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and a former deputy to Osama bin Laden – over the weekend, the US State Department issued on Tuesday a Worldwide Caution warning over the potential increase of anti-American violence abroad.
Following al-Zawahiri’s death, former CIA leader Michael Morell noted that the US national security focus now shifts to whoever succeeds him as al Qaeda’s leader.
Although the White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan stressed on Tuesday that the strike has made the US safer, the State Department wrote in the alert that al- Qa’ida supporters or its affiliated terrorist organizations may seek to attack American facilities, and personnel, or citizens following al-Zawahiri’s death.
Noting that the death of al-Zawahiri has triggered a higher potential for anti-American violence, the alert cites current information suggesting terrorist organizations are continuing to plan attacks – suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings – against US interests in multiple regions across the globe, and strongly urges US citizens traveling abroad to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness.
Americans abroad are advised to stay connected to US embassies and consulates in the destination country, watch the local news for updates and check the State Department site for travel advisories.
The alert points out that as threats and security situations are evaluated and dealt with, the US facilities abroad may periodically and abruptly suspend public services or temporarily close since political violence and security issues often take place without any warning.
Also on Tuesday, the State Department warned US citizens not to travel to participate in armed conflict abroad, reminding them that fighting or providing other forms of support on behalf of designated terrorist organizations is a serious crime that can result in prison time and large fines.