Chaff Launch

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Red Sea Alert!

Middle East Newsline says
The United States has issued an alert of a strike against Western shipping in the Red Sea.
The State Department has posted a warning for Americans to avoid cruises or travel in the Red Sea. The department has raised the prospect of piracy near the coast of Yemen or Somalia.
"This Public Announcement is being updated to alert Americans to ongoing security concerns in the region, including for seaborne vessels traveling in the southern Red Sea," the Aug. 4 announcement said. "U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness."
Officials said the Horn of Africa and southern Red Sea have also become areas of operations for pirates. They said pirates appear to be operating from an area from Somalia to Yemen.
Well, yeah.

Update: More here
Also, the department said it was concerned extremists may be planning to carry out attacks against Westerners and oil workers on the Arabian Peninsula.
Complete warning here
August 04, 2005
This Public Announcement is being updated to alert Americans to ongoing security concerns in the region, including for seaborne vessels traveling in the southern Red Sea. U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This Public Announcement supersedes the Public Announcement issued on March 14, 2005, and expires on February 2, 2006.

Credible information has indicated terrorist groups seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa. Terrorist actions may include bombings, hijackings, hostage taking, kidnappings and assassinations. While conventional weapons such as explosive devices are a more immediate threat in many areas, use of non-conventional weapons, including chemical or biological agents must be considered a possible threat. Terrorists do not distinguish between official and civilian targets. Increased security at official U.S. facilities has led terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets such as public transportation, residential areas, and public areas where people congregate including restaurants, hotels, clubs, and shopping areas.

The Department of State continues to warn of the possibility for violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests in the region. Anti-American violence could include possible terrorist actions against aviation, ground transportation and maritime interests, specifically in the Middle East, including the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa.

The Department is concerned that extremists may be planning to carry out attacks against Westerners and oil workers on the Arabian Peninsula. Armed attacks targeting foreign nationals in Saudi Arabia that resulted in many deaths and injuries, including U.S. citizens, appear to have been preceded by extensive surveillance. Tourist destinations in Egypt that are frequented by Westerners recently have been attacked resulting in many deaths and injuries, including Americans. Extremists may be surveilling Westerners, particularly at hotels, housing areas and rental car facilities. Potential targets may include U.S. contractors, particularly those related to military interests.

Americans considering seaborne travel near the Horn of Africa or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there have been several incidents of armed attacks and robberies at sea by unknown pirates in the last year. When transiting around the Horn of Africa or in the Red Sea near Yemen, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys, and maintain good communications contact at all times.

On occasion, the travel of official personnel at embassies and consulates around the world is restricted because of security concerns, and these posts may recommend that private U.S. citizens avoid the same areas if at all possible. Services to U.S. citizens in countries abroad may be affected if employees' movements are restricted. If this happens, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. In case office hours are reduced, U.S. citizens in need of emergency assistance should telephone the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate before visiting in person.

In addition, U.S. citizens planning to travel to the Middle East or North Africa should consult the Department of State's country-specific Public Announcements, Travel Warnings, Consular Information Sheets, the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement and other information, available on the Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on security conditions can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 in the U.S. and for callers outside the U.S. and Canada a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. (emphasis added)

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