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Malaysia Public Announcement

Issued by US Department of State

Nov 13, 2003

This Public Announcement reiterates the Department of State's ongoing concern about the safety of American citizens and interests, especially along the east coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah, due to the presence of terrorist organizations in Southeast Asia. This supersedes the Public Announcement of May 14, 2003, and expires on June 6, 2004.

The October 5, 2003, kidnapping of six Indonesian and Filipino workers from a resort along the coast of eastern Sabah reinforce the U.S. concern for the safety of travelers to that region of Malaysia. In 2000, armed gunmen associated with the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group based in the southern Philippines took hostages from the islands of Sipadan and Pandanan in eastern Sabah and transported them to the Philippines. Since then, the Malaysian government has substantially increased its police and military presence in the region, notably near popular Western tourist destinations. Nonetheless, the region is large and remote and in many locations, which include open waters between the mainland and offshore resorts, emergency assistance may not always be available. For these reasons, American citizens should avoid eastern Sabah.

In October 2002, the United States Government designated the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) a Foreign Terrorist Organization. JI is an extremist group linked to al-Qaida and other regional terrorist groups and has cells operating throughout Southeast Asia. Extremist groups in the region have demonstrated their capability to carry out transnational attacks in locations where Westerners congregate. Terrorist groups do not distinguish between official and civilian targets.

Americans planning to travel to Malaysia are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and to consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Malaysia and the Department of State's most recent Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, both available at . Americans planning to travel to Sabah should also contact the U.S. Embassy before departure by telephone at (6-03) 2168-5000, or by e-mail at . Up-to-date information on security conditions may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and, from overseas, 317-472-2328.

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