OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
2:58 PM – Thursday, October 19, 2023
The State Department declared a “worldwide caution alert” due to rising tension in the Middle East and surrounding regions amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
On Thursday, the State Department advised United States citizens, and those currently traveling abroad, to remain alert and extra cautious.
The department warned also Americans about the “potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests.”
U.S. officials informed citizens who are in tourist spots abroad to “stay alert,” in light of rising tensions in Israel and the expanding war between the nation and the Islamic terrorist group, Hamas.
The announcement warned U.S. citizens abroad to “stay alert in locations frequented by tourists” and to sign up for the State Department’s “Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive information and alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency overseas.”
“Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution,” authorities said in the “worldwide caution” alert.
Matt Miller, a State Department spokesperson, announced on Thursday that officials will be taking a “number of factors into consideration when making that determination” in order to issue a worldwide alert.
“It’s not necessarily any one thing but everything that we’re watching around the world,” he said at a State Department meeting.
Within the past week, the State Department has increased the Travel Advisory for both Lebanon and Israel to its maximum level.
Additionally, the department has permitted non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members to depart from particular areas close to danger or violence.
U.S. officials warned Americans not to visit Lebanon due to “the unpredictable security situation related to rocket, missile and artillery exchanges between Israel and Hezbollah or other armed militant factions.”
The last occurrence of a worldwide alert ordered by the State Department was in August 2022, which was in the wake of the murder of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The announcement warned that “supporters of al- Qa’ida, or its affiliated terrorist organizations, may seek to attack U.S. facilities, personnel, or citizens.”
A former senior State Department official who worked in diplomatic security, Todd Brown, stated that the situation surrounding the threat regarding the Israel-Hamas war surpasses anything he has seen before, with the potential to reach worse levels.
“This surpasses anything I have seen before in the lease with the potential to get even worse,” Brown said. “Emotions and the temperature is as high as I can ever imagine it has been.”
On a separate note, the State Department has been in the process of advising its embassies and consulates around the globe to hold emergency security reviews amid the ongoing demonstrations sparked by the current war.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed personnel to examine whether embassies should announce alerts to Americans in their respective countries regarding possible threats initiated by the protests.
The State Department has also continued to instruct U.S. citizens who are looking for help departing Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon to fill out a crisis intake form.
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