State Department issues “travel alert” for Europe

The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel alert for citizens visiting Europe. This notification, seconded by countries like Japan and Britain, is of a lesser degree than a formal warning.

“We are not – repeat, not – advising Americans not to go to Europe,” State Department Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy was quoted saying in USA Today. “This is an alert. We put out alerts to ensure that American citizens are aware of possible incidents.”

The alert warns U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe but does not specifically mention a particular country, day, or activity. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.

Last week, the Eiffel Tower in Paris was evacuated twice due to bomb threats.

What, exactly, does this mean? In short – don’t be stupid. Stay on your guard, and follow recommended procedures, such as registering your travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website. If you are visiting a country known for having anti U.S. sentiments, be aware of your behavior and speech in public areas.

This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2011.

[Flickr image via mikescrivener]