The US has issued a worldwide travel alert to its citizens, including South Asia, where it said terrorist outfits such as al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) might harm them.

“US citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness,” the State Department said in a statement yesterday.

Noting that current information suggests that al-Qaeda, its affiliated organisations, and other terrorist outfits continue to plan terrorist attacks against US interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and West Asia, the State Department said these attacks may employ a variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.

It said extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests.

Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and other tourist destinations, both in the US and abroad, where the country’s citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays, the State Department said.

In South Asia, the presence of al-Qaeda, Taliban elements, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organisations, many of which are on the US Government’s list of Foreign Terror Organisations (FTOs), poses a potential danger to US citizens in the region, it said.

Terrorists and their sympathisers have demonstrated their willingness and ability to attack targets where US citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit.

According to the State Department, anti-Western terrorist groups, some on the US Government’s list of FTOs, have been active in India, including Islamist extremist groups such as the Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Terrorists have targeted public places in India frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas, it added.

(This article was published on February 20, 2013)
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