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Malaysia Public Announcement

Issued by US Department of State

Nov 08, 2004

This Public Announcement reiterates the Department of State's ongoing concern about the safety of American citizens, especially those contemplating travel along the east coast of the Malaysian state of Sabah and overland travel into southern Thailand. This supersedes the May 12, 2004 Public Announcement and expires on May 12, 2005.

There are indications of planned additional kidnappings in eastern Sabah's coastal areas, especially at resorts frequented by foreigners. Since 2000, there have been several kidnappings and incidents of piracy in this area. In October 2003, six Indonesian and Filipino workers were kidnapped from a coastal resort in eastern Sabah. The terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), based in the southern Philippines, has been responsible for some of these incidents; other incidents have been attributed to unidentified criminals.

Because of these incidents, along with indications of a continuing threat of kidnap attempts, American citizens should exercise caution when visiting the coastal areas of eastern Sabah. Since 2001, Malaysia has maintained a significant security presence in the region, but Sabah has extensive open waters between the mainland and its offshore islands. Emergency assistance may not always be available.

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

Americans who travel overland from Malaysia to Thailand should be aware of the Department of State's safety and security advice for Thailand, which can be found at http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/thailand.html.

Americans planning to travel to Malaysia are encouraged to register and update their contact information at http://travelregistration.state.gov. U.S. citizens should 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 http://travel.state.gov. Americans planning to travel to eastern Sabah should also contact the U.S. Embassy before departure by telephone at (60-3) 2168-5000, or by e-mail at tate.gov. 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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