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Middle East & North Africa Public Announcement

Issued by US Department of State

Mar 24, 2004

This Public Announcement is being updated to alert U.S. citizens of the heightened threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests following the killing of HAMAS leader Sheikh Yassin in Gaza. This Public Announcement supersedes the Public Announcement issued on March 19, 2004, and expires September 23, 2004.

The Department of State is deeply concerned about the heightened threat of terrorist attacks against U.S. citizens and interests abroad in the aftermath of the recent killing of HAMAS leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in Gaza. The Department is also concerned about the potential for demonstrations and violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests in the region and throughout the world in response to his death. A HAMAS spokesman threatened revenge and identified American interests as targets. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.

U.S. citizens are reminded of the continuing threat of anti-American violence, including possible terrorist actions against aviation, ground transportation and maritime interests, specifically in the Middle East, including the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

C redible information has indicated terrorist groups may be planning attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, hijackings or kidnappings. These attacks may involve aviation, ground transportation and maritime interests. While conventional weapons such as explosive devices are a more immediate threat in many areas, use of non-conventional weapons, including chemical or biological agents must be considered a possible threat. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Increased security at official U.S. facilities has led terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets such as public transportation, residential areas, and public areas where people congregate.

On occasion, the travel of official personnel at embassies and consulates around the world is restricted because of security concerns, and these posts may recommend that private U.S. citizens avoid the same areas if at all possible. Services to U.S. citizens in countries abroad may be affected if employees' movements are restricted. If this happens, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. In case office hours are reduced, U.S. citizens in need of emergency assistance should telephone the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate before visiting in person.

In addition, U.S. citizens planning to travel to the Middle East or North Africa should consult the Department of State's country-specific Public Announcements, Travel Warnings, Consular Information Sheets, the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement and other information, Fact Sheets, and regional travel brochures available on the Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on security conditions can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 in the U.S. and for callers outside the U.S. and Canada a regular toll line at 1-317-472-2328.

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