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U.S. issues global travel alert over al-Qaeda threat

5:00 PM, Aug 2, 2013   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- The United States has issued a global travel alert because of an al-Qaeda terrorist threat.

The State Department says the potential for terrorism is particularly strong in the Middle East and North Africa. It says an attack could occur or come from the Arabian Peninsula.

The alert reads: "Current information suggests that al-Qa'ida 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 travel alert expires on Aug. 31.

"Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. 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. 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 alert reads.

It is recommended that U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registration website.

"We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate," the alert reads.

"We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from al-Qa'ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats," it says.

The travel alert comes a day after the U.S. announced that it would shutter its embassies and consulates throughout the Muslim world on Sunday, and possibly longer.

The threat was linked to al-Qaeda and focused on the Middle East and Central Asia, said Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

State Department officials said Thursday they were acting out of an "abundance of caution."

Contributing: The Associated Press

Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY

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