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Middle East Update Public Announcement

Issued by U.S. Department of State

May 21, 2002

This Public Announcement is being updated to remind Americans of the potential for further terrorist actions against U.S. citizens abroad, specifically in the Middle East, including the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula, and to alert Americans to the potential for terrorist actions in North Africa. This Public Announcement supersedes the Public Announcement of April 24, 2002 and expires on November 20, 2002.

The U.S. Government continues to receive information about potential terrorist actions against U.S. interests abroad. There is growing concern that individuals may be planning terrorist actions against United States citizens and interests, as well as tourist sites frequented by westerners, in the region of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula, and North Africa. U.S. citizens should exercise caution in those areas at this time. As indicated in the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement of March 17, 2002, increased security at official U.S. facilities may lead terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets.

The Department of State is concerned about the potential for further violent responses elsewhere due to the ongoing crisis in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. These have included demonstrations with anti-American sentiment throughout the region.

The Department of State reminds Americans to remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and to exercise caution. As further stated in the Department's Worldwide Caution Public Announcement of March 17, 2002, U.S. citizens and interests abroad remain at increased risk of terrorist attacks, including by groups with links to Usama Bin Ladin's Al-Qaida organization. These individuals do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Terrorist attacked an international church in Pakistan on March 17 and a synagogue in Tunisia on April 11. In both instances several western nationals were killed. The Department of State has unconfirmed reports that American citizens may be targeted for kidnapping or other terrorist actions. In late January 2002, an American journalist was taken hostage and murdered in Pakistan.

U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. Facilities have closed and will continue to temporarily close or suspend public services as necessary to review their security posture and ensure its adequacy. On occasion, the travel of official personnel at embassies and consulates around the world may be restricted and these posts may recommend that private American citizens avoid the same areas if at all possible. Services to American citizens could be impaired if employees' movements are restricted. In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to American citizens. American citizens in need of emergency assistance should telephone the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate before visiting there.

In addition, U.S. citizens planning to travel abroad should consult the Department of State's Public Announcements, Travel Warnings, Consular Information Sheets, Fact Sheets, and regional travel brochures, all of which are available at the Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov. American citizens overseas may contact the American Citizen Services unit of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate by telephone or fax for up-to-date information on security conditions.

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