On December 19, the State Department issued a Worldwide Travel Alert concerning potential threats during the holiday period.
The lone wolf attack in Sydney, Australia on December 15, 2014, resulting in the deaths of two hostages, is a reminder that U.S. citizens should be extra cautious, maintain a very high level of vigilance, and take appropriate steps to enhance their personal security. This Travel Alert expires on March 19, 2015.
An analysis of past attacks and threat reporting strongly suggests a focus by terrorists not only on the targeting of U.S. government facilities but also on hotels, shopping areas, places of worship, and schools, among other targets, during or coinciding with this holiday period. U.S. citizens abroad should be mindful that terrorist groups and those inspired by them can pose unpredictable threats in public venues. U.S. citizens should remain alert to local conditions and for signs of danger.
Meanwhile the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan on December 19 is also warning of terrorist threats to American residences by groups that may be purporting to be service providers to gain access to the properties:
The Embassy has been informed of plans by terror groups to gain access to U.S. citizen residences through visits by construction, maintenance, or utility companies, as well as other technical service providers. U.S. citizens should be extremely cautious about granting access to their residences, even to established companies, for the immediate future. Recent terror attacks in Peshawar and the resulting Pakistan Government response may raise the possibility for future threats.[…] The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan urges U.S. citizens to vary their times and routes when traveling anywhere in Pakistan, and to avoid travel patterns to such locations that would allow other persons to predict when and where they will be. Depending on ongoing security assessments, and as part of routine operational security measures, the U.S. Mission occasionally places areas such as hotels, markets, airports, and/or restaurants off limits to official personnel.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, meanwhile is warning of potential attacks on western NGOs in Kabul:
As of early December 2014, militants were planning to attack a Western, possibly American, non-government organization (NGO) in Kabul City, Afghanistan. Surveillance had been completed and the attack was likely to take place within 2-4 weeks. The NGO office was possibly located close to the Ministry of Interior and the Afghan Passport Authority in Kabul City. There was no further information regarding the timing, targets, or methods of the attack.
The U.S. Embassy in Bamako, Mali issued a security message for places typically visited by Westerners:
The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia also issued a security reminder for U.S. citizens to be vigilant during the season and of the continued threat of potential terrorist attacks in the country. The targets for these attacks, according to the message, could include large gatherings at hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, shopping malls, and places of worship.
In early May, Diplomatic Security released its annual Year in Review publication detailing attacks on diplomatic personnel/facilities for the past year. In 2013, attacks against American posts and staff occurred in the Philippines, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Pakistan, Brazil, Ethiopia, and the Congo. While majority of the attacks were against USG properties, there were casualties, killed and/or wounded in Ankara, Zabul, Kabul, Herat and Taji. It is important to note that those killed or wounded in these attacks include not only American personnel/contractors but also local employees, local contract guards, local policemen, and civilians.
January 25 – Manila, Philippines: Some 15 to 20 protesters gathered across the street from the main gate of the U.S. Embassy to rally against the Visiting Forces Agreement. Police prevented them from approaching any closer, but they managed to throw red paint on the U.S. seal, journalists, and police officers.
January 28 – Manila, Philippines: Approximately 50 protesters gathered across from the consular section of the U.S. Embassy. They were carrying placards that read, “Stop U.S. Intervention” and “U.S.-Aquino Regime Terrorists.” The group departed after throwing plastic bags filled with paint, which struck and defaced the Embassy seal at the Consulate entrance.
February 1 – Ankara, Turkey:At 1:14 p.m., an individual entered the U.S. Embassy access pavilion. When questioned by a member of the Embassy’s Local Guard Force, he detonated a bomb concealed in his clothing. The explosion killed the bomber and the guard, a 22-year veteran of the Embassy’s Local Guard Force.
(See our blog posts on Mustafa Akarsu here.)
March 11 – Kabul, Afghanistan:Two Embassy helicopters received small-arms fire. Both aircraft returned safely to their airbases with no one injured and minimal damage.
March 21 – Baghdad, Iraq:Three rockets were fired at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, producing no injuries and minimal property damage. The alarm systems activated, warning personnel of the attack and allowing them to take cover.
April 6 – Qalat City, Zabul Province, Afghanistan: Two bombs exploded near a Provincial Reconstruction Team delivering children’s books to a school. A U.S. Embassy officer, a U.S.-contracted interpreter, and three U.S. military personnel were killed. Four State Department personnel, eight members of the U.S. military, and four Afghan civilians were wounded.
(See our blog posts on the Qalat, Zabul attack here).
April 10 – Baghdad, Iraq: Five rockets impacted outside the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center. Damage was minimal and an American worker was slightly injured while attempting to seek cover. The alarm systems activated, warning personnel of the attack and allowing them to take cover.
June 10 – Kabul, Afghanistan: At 4:45 a.m., Taliban insurgents equipped with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the Coalition Forces compound located at Kabul Airport. Multiple rocket-propelled grenades impacted on Camp Alvarado, a U.S. Embassy facility.
June 25 – Kabul, Afghanistan:At 6:35 a.m., eight insurgents launched an attack on the U.S. Embassy Annex. Afghan security forces and Local Guard Force personnel engaged the militants in a firefight. All eight insurgents were killed along with seven members of the Afghan security forces. Seven other Afghan security personnel were injured.
June 27 – Pristina, Kosovo: The U.S. Ambassador, an Embassy political officer and the DS Regional Security Officer went to the Kosovo Assembly to observe ratification of the April 19 Dialogue agreement to normalize relations between Kosovo and Serbia. As they proceeded to the building, protesters pushed the Ambassador into a wall and struck the Regional Security Officer.
July 3 – Basrah, Iraq: Two bombs detonated at the Mnawi Hotel, causing extensive damage to a USAID office located in the building.
July 14 – Istanbul, Turkey: At approximately 7:15 p.m., while driving to an official event, the motorcade of the U.S. Consul General encountered a crowd of 30 people wearing masks and armed with sticks and heavy paving stones. While escaping, the vehicle sustained damage from several rock-throwing protesters.
July 21 – Lahore, Pakistan: At 3:05 p.m., 400 individuals claiming to be members from Imamia Students Organization and Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen marched to the entrance of the U.S. Consulate General’s primary access road. A number of individuals used spray paint to write anti-American slogans on the Consulate’s wall.
September 6 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Approximately 15 to 20 protesters chanted anti-American rhetoric in front of the U.S. Consulate. At the end of the protest, they threw red paint on the street and bollards of the Consulate.
September 13 – Herat, Afghanistan: The September 13, 2013, attack began when a truck driver eased up to a barrier at the Consulate’s primary vehicle entry point and without warning, detonated a massive improvised explosive charge. It was 5:32 a.m. and not quite sunrise at the U.S. Consulate in Herat when a terrorist murder squad appeared suddenly and attempted to blast and shoot its way inside. All but one would die within the next 30 minutes, and the fight would mark the first time in memory that DS defeated a complex assault without help from the host country or other forces. [E]ight contracted guards who were standing regular duty outside the U.S. Consulate were killed. They were: Jawid Sarwary, Mohammad Ramin Rastin, Ahmad Firooz Azizy, Ghazy Zade Mohammed Zaman, Sayed Sadt, Mohammad Ali Askari, Aref Mohammad Sadiqi, and Ezmari Haidary. The attack also injured four other guards and several Afghan police officers who were on duty outside the Consulate.
October 1 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: At approximately 7:40 p.m., members of the Black Bloc anarchist group infiltrated a teachers’ demonstration in the downtown area of Rio de Janeiro, one block from the U.S. Consulate General. Vandals lit a fire near the Consulate waiting area and threw cobblestones at Consulate windows.
October 7 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Protests ended in vandalism after members of the Black Bloc anarchist group again infiltrated a demonstration organized by striking Rio teachers. When the striking teachers dispersed, some 400 masked anarchists confronted the police and then threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the U.S. Consulate General.
October 13 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: At approximately 3:30 p.m., two explosions killed two individuals at a residential compound adjacent to the residence of a U.S. Embassy employee. The blast destroyed windows and some of the perimeter wall, but no Americans were injured. The deceased are believed to have been planning attacks against Western targets in Addis Ababa.
October 15 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: The teachers’ protests saw anarchist groups again engage in widespread vandalism in the city center. Vandals damaged banks and businesses. The exterior of the U.S. Consulate General building was damaged, including broken windows, when passing protesters threw rocks and coconuts at the building.
October 18 – Porto Alegre, Brazil:At approximately 12:30 p.m., a group of university students calling themselves “Marighella” vandalized the U.S. Consular Agency. The vandals/protesters said they wanted the U.S. out of the country and claimed the U.S. President was a “spy” who wanted Brazil’s oil. They also said they were there to “take over.”
December 16 – Brazzaville, Congo: Heavy gunfire rocked the capital as government forces tried to arrest an official at his residence located within one mile of the U.S. Embassy, but his bodyguards resisted. During the firefight a stray bullet shattered a second-floor window of the U.S. Embassy.
December 25 – Kabul, Afghanistan: At 6:42 a.m., unidentified insurgents fired one 107-mm rocket at the U.S. Embassy. The rocket landed on the east side of the Embassy compound, but failed to detonate. An additional rocket was later found at the launch site. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
December 27 – Taji, Iraq:At approximately 9:20 a.m., a U.S. motorcade en route from Balad to Baghdad came under small-arms fire while stopped at a checkpoint on Highway One. The security team leader — a U.S. citizen — was slightly wounded.
On April 25, the State Department announced that Secretary John Kerry will visit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Luanda, Angola, on April 29-May 5 “to encourage democratic development, promote respect for human rights, advance peace and security, engage with civil society and young African leaders who will shape the continent’s future, and promote trade, investment and development partnerships in Africa.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry departs the United Kingdom en route to the Republic of Korea after participating in the G8 ministerial meetings in London, United Kingdom, April 11, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]
Secretary Kerry will be accompanied by Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes and the Democratic Republic of the Congo Russell Feingold, Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth, and Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issue Catherine Russell.
We have ambassadors in Addis and Kinshasa at post but who’s missing from that list?
Helen Meagher La Lime, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service who was nominated as Ambassador to the Republic of Angola on September 2013. She has been waiting for Senate confirmation since January 15, 2014. The lengthy wait since the nomination is now approaching eight months.
Dear Congress, this is idiotic.
Hey, here’s an idea. If Congress is serious about chopping down on expenses, it could confirm Ms. La Lime for Angola, and she could hitch a ride in Secretary Kerry’s plane when he leaves tomorrow for his Africa trip.
For multiplied savings, the Senate could also confirm a host of other ambassadorial nominees for several countries in Africa who have been stuck in the confirmation chamber since January this year.
Mauritania: Larry Edward Andre, Jr., of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe: Cynthia H. Akuetteh, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Gabonese Republic, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.
Zambia: Eric T. Schultz, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Zambia.
Niger: Eunice S. Reddick, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Niger.
Cameroon: Michael Stephen Hoza, of Washington, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Cameroon.
Sierra Leone: John Hoover, of Massachusetts, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Kingdom of Lesotho: Matthew T. Harrington, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Lesotho.
Namibia: Thomas Frederick Daughton, of Arizona, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Namibia.
Jim Swan, the new U.S. ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and his wife, Daphne Michelle Titus, introduce themselves to the Congolese people. The French version is here. 177 views.
U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia – Patricia Haslach
Ambassador Patricia Haslach is a Career Minister of the Senior Foreign Service. She began her diplomatic career in 1986 as an agricultural attaché with the Foreign Agricultural Service, then transferred to the Department of State as an economic officer. 128 views
U.S. Ambassador to Greece – David Pearce
David Pearce is returning as U.S. Ambassador to Greece after his first visit to the country more than 40 years ago. In this video, he reflects on Greece’s influence on American democracy and outlines his plans to strengthen ties between the two countries. Ambassador Pearce was previously Deputy United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. and previously served as the United States Ambassador to Algeria. In Greek. 1,663 views.
U.S. Ambassador to Japan – Caroline Kennedy
Here is our new ambassador to Tokyo. Japanese subtitle. 24, 553 views. According to JDP, Ambassador Kennedy is set to arrive at the Narita International Airport Friday afternoon and on Tuesday next week, she will be presenting her credentials to Emperor Akihito to formally start her envoy duties. This will be a closely followed tenure.
On June 14, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Patricia Marie Haslach as the next Ambassador to Ethiopia. The WH released the folowing brief bio:
Ambassador Patricia Marie Haslach, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career-Minister, is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. Previously, from 2011 to 2012, she was Iraq Transition Coordinator in the Office of the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources. From 2010 to 2011, she was Deputy Coordinator for Global Hunger and Food Security, and from 2009 to 2010, she was Assistant Chief of Mission for Assistance Transition at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. Ambassador Haslach’s additional assignments include: United States Senior Coordinator for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, with the rank of Ambassador, from 2007 to 2009; Ambassador to Laos from 2004 to 2007; Director of the Office for Afghanistan at the Department of State from 2002 to 2004; and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan from 2000 to 2002. Ambassador Haslach began her career with the federal government in the Foreign Agriculture Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
She received a B.A. from Gonzaga University and an M.I.A. from Columbia University.
If confirmed, Ambassador Haslach would succeed career diplomat Donald E. Booth who was appointed chief of mission to Addis Ababa in December 2009. Of the 15 ambassadors appointed to Ethiopia since 1960, only three or 20% were political appointees.