Terrorism

As terrorist attacks often take place without any warning, U.S. citizens should maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate, proactive steps to increase their security awareness when traveling. We encourage U.S. citizens to read Country Information pages and Travel Advisories on Travel.State.Gov before planning a trip. In addition, prior to departing the United States, we urge travelers to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages about terrorist threats or security incidents. While abroad, U.S. citizens should monitor the local news and be aware of the contact information for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  

Terrorist groups, their associates, and those inspired by such organizations are intent on attacking U.S. and Western citizens around the world. Extremists may use conventional or non-conventional weapons to strike U.S. interests, but many are increasingly using less sophisticated methods of attack to more effectively target crowds, including the use of edged weapons, pistols, and vehicles. Extremists are increasingly assaulting “soft” targets, such as:

  • high-profile public events (sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.)
  • hotels, clubs, and restaurants
  • places of worship
  • schools
  • parks
  • shopping malls and markets
  • tourism infrastructure
  • public transportation systems
  • airports

The following recommendations may help you to avoid becoming a target of opportunity. These precautions may provide some degree of protection, and can serve as practical and psychological deterrents to would-be terrorists:

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Airports and Air Travel

  • Schedule direct flights if possible, and avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Country Information pages often highlight such locations.
  • Minimize the time spent in the public area of an airport. Move promptly from the check-in counter to the security screening section to gain entry to the secured area of an airport. Upon arrival, leave the airport as soon as possible. Arrival areas are typically less secure than departure zones.
  • Keep an eye out for abandoned packages or briefcases, or other suspicious items. Report them to airport authorities and leave the area quickly.
  • To the greatest extent possible, avoid drawing attention to yourself.
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Public Venues

  • When possible, avoid or minimize time spent in the “soft” targets listed above. When in such locations, be alert for suspicious or unusual activity.
  • Recognize that Western-branded venues or Western-like facilities may be attractive targets for terrorists.
  • Report suspicious activities and individuals (e.g., potential surveillants) to the local police, and also to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Identify potential safe areas, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Formulate a plan of action of how to respond if a terrorist attack or security incident takes place.
  • Remember the “run, hide, fight” rule during a terrorist attack or similar incident: whenever possible, immediately depart the area; if retreat is not an option, conceal yourself from would-be assailants; as a last resort, and only if necessary, yell and fight off an attacker.
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Taxi Cabs and Personal Vehicles

  • If possible, travel with others.
  • Carry a charged cellular telephone with you at all times. Inform friends, family and colleagues of your departures and arrivals.
  • Select your own taxicab at random. Do not use an unlicensed or gypsy cab. Taxis, Uber or Uber-like vehicles should have photo licenses clearly displayed inside the vehicle or on the phone app. Compare the image to the driver, including identifying information for the driver. Record license plate information in your phone as a precaution.
  • When operating rental or personal vehicles, periodically inspect the exterior of the vehicle for suspicious items or marks.
  • Drive with car windows closed whenever possible to maintain an additional layer of protection.
  • Keep your vehicle in good operating condition, with at least one-half tank of gasoline.

 

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Hotels

  • Review evacuation and shelter-in-place plans after accessing your hotel room.
  • Be sure of the identity of visitors before opening the door of your hotel room. Don't meet strangers at your hotel room, or at unknown or remote locations.
  • Refuse unexpected packages.
  • Report suspicious activities to the hotel’s front desk or security office.
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Police and Security Services

  • Follow the instructions provided by the police and security services during an emergency. 
Last Updated: August 20, 2018