The State Department warned American citizens on Thursday of a heightened terror threat across Europe over the upcoming holiday season.
The travel alert pointed to recent incidents in France, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Finland carried out by the Islamic State, al Qaeda and affiliate groups, cautioning that the terror groups are capable of attacking anywhere.
“Last year, mass casualty attacks occurred at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany in December and a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey on New Year’s Eve. While local governments continue counterterrorism operations, the Department remains concerned about the potential for future terrorist attacks. U.S. citizens should always be alert to the possibility that terrorist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks with little or no warning,” the warning said.
The State Department cautioned that nearly any location could be targeted and by any means.
“Extremists continue to focus on tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as viable targets. In addition, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports, and other soft targets remain priority locations for possible attacks. U.S. citizens should exercise additional vigilance in these and similar locations,” the alert said.
“Terrorists persist in employing a variety of tactics, including firearms, explosives, using vehicles as ramming devices, and sharp-edged weapons that are difficult to detect prior to an attack.”
ISIS recently threatened the Vatican and Pope Francis in an image depicting a car heading toward St. Peter’s. A masked jihadist was driving with a semi-automatic weapon and possibly a backpack bomb. The headline read, “Christmas blood; so wait.”