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Malaysia Public Announcement

Issued by US Department of State

May 15, 2003

This Public Announcement is being updated to provide information regarding terrorist activities in Southeast Asia. It also reiterates the State Department's continuing concern about the possibility of terrorist attacks against American citizens and American interests in Malaysia, especially in the state of Sabah. This supersedes the Public Announcement of November 20, 2002, and expires on November 14, 2003.

On October 23, 2002, the United States Government designated the Jemaah Islamyia (JI) organization a Foreign Terrorist Organization. JI is an extremist group linked to al-Qaida and other regional terrorist groups. The JI has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. Since mid-2001, Malaysian authorities have arrested over 80 members of JI. Attacks similar to the October 2002 terrorist bombings in Bali, Indonesia, may occur in other Southeast Asian nations, including Malaysia. JI and other extremist groups present in the region have demonstrated transnational capabilities to carry out attacks against locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.

The Department of State reiterates its concern about attacks by members of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) based in the southern Philippines near the Malaysian State of Sabah. Although the capacity of some elements of the ASG has been diminished by the recent military action in the Philippines, the ASG remains a security threat to areas in Sabah, which is close to the southern Philippines.

Malaysian police and military personnel are deployed and patrol the eastern coastal region and islands of Sabah. The Malaysian Government has also placed small detachments in various locations, including the Malaysian islands of Sipadan and Pandanan, where armed gunmen kidnapped hostages on April 23 and September 11, 2000, subsequently transporting them to the islands of the southern Philippines. However, the region is remote and large in area, and assistance in security matters may not be readily available. U.S. citizens traveling to the islands and in the coastal areas of eastern Sabah should be aware of the persistence of threats from the Abu Sayyaf Group based in the southern Philippines, and should exercise extreme caution. Americans planning to travel to that region are encouraged to call the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur before departure.

U.S. citizens traveling to the islands or in the coastal region of eastern Sabah in Malaysia are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. As the U.S. Embassy is quite distant from this region, U.S. citizens may wish to contact the Embassy by telephone at (6-03) 2168-5000, or by e-mail at

U.S. citizens planning to travel to Malaysia should consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Malaysia and the most recent Worldwide Caution Public Announcement s, which are available via the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. Travelers to the Malaysian State of Sabah should also consult the current Public Announcement and Consular Information Sheet for the Philippines. American citizens may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States, and 317-472-2328 from overseas.

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