As January 15 approaches, Iraq shows no sign of respecting U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding that it withdraw from Kuwait or face possible military force.
Since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the Department of State has issued three public statements warning Americans of the possibility of Iraqi-sponsored terrorist attacks. These notices were general in nature; no specific targets were mentioned. They remain in effect.
The U.S. Government has evidence that terrorists supported by Iraq are planning to mount attacks in most regions of the world. We believe the Middle East and Europe are the most likely locations. We also have reports of terrorist planning in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The American public should be aware that, in the event of military action involving the United States in the Persian Gulf, the threat of terrorism against American citizens would increase significantly. The Department of State recommends that Americans take the following action to minimize the threat:
All Americans traveling abroad should review existing travel advisories concerning the country or region to which they plan to travel.
Americans overseas should stay in close touch with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
They should be alert and pay attention to anyone who may be observing them. If they become concerned about something unusual, they should contact the local police.
Americans overseas should exercise caution when in or near U.S. military or civilian facilities.
Should hostilities begin, Americans should keep informed through radio and television broadcasts.
While it is likely that terrorist events may occur for which we have no forewarning, should specific and credible information on a threat to the American public be received, the Department of State will provide information for travelers and other concerned parties.
In view of threatening public statements by Iraq, and planning activities undertaken by terrorist groups supported by Baghdad, the U.S. Government believes that acts of terrorism directed against American interests are likely in the event of hostilities. President Bush has said that the United States will hold Saddam Hussein directly responsible for any terrorist attack Iraq sponsors.
I would like to share with you some of the steps that the U.S. Government is taking to help counter this threat. Our measures include the following:
Since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait we have released four public announcements warning of the risk of Iraqi-sponsored terrorist activities. These warnings remain in effect.
The Department has authorized or ordered the drawdown of personnel from most U.S. diplomatic facilities in North Africa and the Middle East. We have publicized this information in travel advisories, and we strongly urge that Americans considering travel abroad review all travel advisories affecting the region or country to which they plan to travel.
Ambassador Busby, coordinator for counterterrorism, has worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration, which has implemented additional steps to strengthen aviation security that recognize the current world situation. These requirements apply to airports and airlines within the United States and to U.S. airlines providing service overseas. The international measures have been carefully coordinated with our major aviation partners.
Ambassador Busby has travelled extensively since August to discuss the terrorist threats with our allies. We are working closely with governments throughout the world to counter the threat posed by Iraqi-sponsored terrorism.
The Department has asked all U.S. diplomatic missions worldwide to review their respective security situations.
American embassies and consulates throughout the world have been briefing local American communities on steps that they can take to increase their personal security in this time of heightened tension.
As we have said before, while it is likely that terrorist events may occur for which we have no forewarning, should specific and credible information on a threat to the American public be received, the Department of State will provide information for travelers and other concerned parties.