The U.S. Department of State has issued a “worldwide” caution for American citizens traveling abroad, raising concerns about growing tensions in the Middle East and the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations, or violent actions against U.S. citizens in various international destinations popular among tourists.
While the worldwide caution does not specify any particular global event or conflict, it comes amidst raging violence across the Middle East after the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, resulting in widespread massacres and a civilian death toll of 1,300.
The advisory aligns with President Joe Biden’s recent trip to Israel, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continue their military response in Gaza. Tensions across the Middle East, including Turkey, have escalated following Biden’s visit to Tel Aviv, and likelihood of an imminent Israeli invasion of Gaza.
In addition to the global alert, the U.S. State Department has maintained a level three travel advisory for Colombia. It urges American citizens to exercise increased caution when traveling to Colombia due to the presence of terrorist and transnational criminal organizations in the country.
The U.S. Embassy reiterated this advisory on October 12, emphasizing concerns related to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping.
The advisory underscores that despite ongoing peace negotiations between the Colombian government illegal armed groups, these organizations continue to operate and carry out armed actions within the country. U.S. citizens are cautioned about the potential for attacks by these groups, which could occur with little or no warning. Targets by the National Liberation Army (ELN), FARC dissident groups EMC and Segunda Marquetalia, as well as the Clan del Golfo and other criminal organizations, could include transportation hubs, markets, shopping malls, local government facilities, police stations, military facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, airports, other public areas, and U.S. government facilities.
The advisory strongly tells nationals “Do Not Travel” to the Colombia-Venezuela border, and departments of Norte de Santander, Cauca (excluding Popayán) and Arauca, given “widespread violent crime.”
As a precaution, the U.S. State Department advises U.S. citizens to remain vigilant, maintain heightened situational awareness, and incorporate strong personal security practices into their daily activities while in Colombia.
According to Reuters, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Thursday that the Justice Department is monitoring an increase in reported threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities in the United States tied to Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. The last time the U.S Government issued a “worldwide” alert followed the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in August 2022. In that warning the U.S government claimed “supporters of al- Qa’ida, or its affiliated terrorist organizations, may seek to attack U.S. facilities, personnel, or citizens.”
President Joe Biden will address the nation from the Oval Office on Thursday (8:00 PM EST), stating on “X” that “We are at a global inflection point that is bigger than party or politics.”
Both the worldwide and Colombia advisories ask American citizens to enroll in the State Department’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program” to receive information and alerts, making it easier to locate them in the event of an overseas emergency.