In a sweeping advisory, the United States told its citizens to “exercise vigilance” when traveling anywhere in the world because terrorist groups continue to plan attacks in multiple locations.
The worldwide travel alert recommended “particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events,” an ominous warning that could cast a pall over upcoming events.
It comes at the beginning of a busy holiday travel period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Sunday after Thanksgiving, Nov. 29, is scheduled to be the second-busiest day of the year at US airports. Travel will spike again around Christmas:
The warning was likely to depress travel and tourism at an already-uncertain time for those industries, though the extent of disruption isn’t yet clear.
In issuing the advisory, the US State Department cited recent terrorist attacks in Egypt, Lebanon, France, and Mali. It came as Brussels remains in lockdown under what authorities say is an imminent threat.
“Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions,” the US warning said. “Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq.” It warned, in particular, of attacks against public gatherings.
The broadness of the warning and its lack of specificity seemed destined to put the country on edge. It also seemed to contradict remarks by US president Barack Obama, who vowed not to be terrorized by the attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people.