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The alert warns that â€œCredible information indicates the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Daâ€™esh), al Qaâ€™ida, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events.â€
The U.S. State Department issued a Travel Alert on November 21 for travel to Europe. The alert expires February 21, 2017.
The alert warns that “Credible information indicates the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or Da’esh), al Qa’ida, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events.”
The advisory warns US citizens “… to be alert to the possibility that extremist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks during this period with little or no warning.” The State Department advises Americans to “exercise vigilance when attending large holiday events, visiting tourist sites, using public transportation and frequenting places of worship, restaurants, hotels, etc.”
Terrorism, unfortunately, is a real threat, within the US and abroad. Whether you decide to travel to a particular area is a personal decision based on many factors. Be aware of the warnings, assess the situation, maintain a perspective, and make the right decision for you and your family.
What You Can Do To Keep Safe When Traveling
Flights: Plan to depart and arrive at times when the airports are less busy.
City Behavior: Know where you are going and be aware of your surroundings. That means spending less time staring at your cell phone or tablet.
Hotels: Avoid booking rooms at big international hotels that cater to US tourists, say some experts. Instead, choose smaller boutique properties.
Register: Sign up for the free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), administered by the US State Department. Before your trip, you provide information about your travels as well as whom to contact in case of emergency.
“Enrolling a trip will provide you not only with Travel Alerts and Warnings but also specific, local safety and security information from the Embassy,” states the website.
Stay Connected: Tell your family and friends how to reach you and create a plan for keeping in touch in case of emergency.
Get Travel Updates: Along with receiving updates from the US government, register for travel warnings from the government of the country you are visiting. Of course, this presumes that you either know the language or that the warnings can be translated into English.
Use Technology: In an emergency, the local Internet is likely to be down or excruciatingly slow. Before you leave home, consider downloading FireChat, a free messaging app that works without Internet access, or download a similar app. FireChat, which, in layperson’s terms, creates its own person-to-person “network” has been an essential tool in crises, although it was initially designed as a social networking app.
Shelters: Look for police stations, hospitals, and other buildings on your walks that could serve as emergency shelters.
Reaction: Experts advise that if caught in an attack, you should run if you can, hide if you cannot run and, as a last resort, fight.