Posted: 3:25 am ET
Posted: 3:25 am ET
Posted: 3:39 am ET
On July 10, the State Department updated its Travel Warning for Bangladesh and announced the voluntary evacuation of family members of U.S. personnel posted to the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka:
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to consider carefully whether you need to travel to Bangladesh, in light of the latest attack in a series of extremist events. Effective July 10, 2016, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of family members of U.S. government personnel posted to the U.S. Embassy in Dhaka. The U.S. Embassy in Dhaka remains open and will provide all routine consular services. The U.S. government assesses that the terrorist threat is real and credible.
On July 1, 2016, attackers killed more than 20 people in a restaurant frequented by foreigners in Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave, including one U.S. citizen. Other attacks continue to be carried out against religious minorities, bloggers, publishers, and security forces throughout the country. Daesh (also referred to as ISIL, or ISIS) and Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) have publicly claimed credit for various attacks since September 2015.
U.S. citizens should take stringent security measures, remain vigilant, and be alert to local security developments. Be aware that U.S. government officials and their families currently are not permitted to:
Read the full announcement here.
Posted: 3:01 am ET
Updated: 9:37 am PT
Updated: 4:09 pm PT
A suicide bomber apparently blew himself up near the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The bomber killed himself, and injured two security guards but it does not look like there are other casualties at this time. BBC reported that the security personnel became suspicious of a man in the car park of the Dr. Suleiman Faqeeh hospital around 02:15 (23:15 GMT Sunday), interior ministry spokesman Maj-Gen Mansour al-Turki said in a statement. The hospital is opposite the US consulate. As the guards approached the man, “he blew himself up with a suicide belt inside the hospital parking,” the statement said. @OSACState told us that explosion was approximately 20 meters from the Consulate wall.
The American Mission in Saudi Arabia consists of the embassy in Riyadh and the consulates in Dhahran and Jeddah. The Mission to Saudi Arabia started as a legation in Jeddah in 1942. Full diplomatic relations were established in 1949 and the U.S Mission, located in a traditional house in the old city center, became an Embassy. According to the consulate’s website, the Embassy moved in 1952 to the current Consulate General location, which “at the time was an isolated, beach-front property far to the north of the city limits.” The Embassy was moved to Riyadh in 1984 along with all other foreign missions in the country. The former Embassy compound in Jeddah is now the Consulate General.
Post provides quite a sad example of just how slow the bureaucracy moves despite plenty of promises/recommendations following a terrorist attack.
On December 6, 2004 (video), a terrorist attack on Consulate Jeddah killed four locally employed staff members and injured nine others working outside the consulate building. An Accountability Review Board (ARB) had apparently determined that the consulate employees were killed or injured because the general services annex building did not have a safe area to which the employees could retreat. The Department concurred with the ARB recommendation to construct safe areas throughout compounds at posts worldwide.
In September 2013, State/OIG made two recommendations to the State Department during its Review of Department of State Implementation of Jeddah Accountability:
OIG recommended that the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) provide compound emergency sanctuaries for employees who work in the buildings that do not have an approved safe haven or safe area.
OIG recommended that OBO request an increase in funding for the Compound Security Upgrade Program to reflect this additional require- ment for compound emergency sanctuaries.
A compound emergency sanctuary is a protected building or room, within or adjacent to an on-compound, unprotected functional area, that is used as a temporary shelter during an attack or other crisis for personnel unable to reach or find accommodations in a safe haven, safe area, or 15-minute FEfBR- protected building. It provides 15-minute FEfBR protection for walls, windows, and doors, emergency power, ventilation, telephone, connectivity to the emergency notification system, and where feasible and reasonable, an emergency escape. (12 FAH-5 H-040, Glossary).
The two 2013 recommendations are listed as “Significant Resolved Office of Evaluations and Special Projects Recommendations Pending Final Department of State Action for More Than 12 Months” in State/OIG’s latest report to the Congress. “Resolved” means an agreement on the recommendation and proposed corrective action (remains open) but implementation has not been completed.
The Jeddah terrorist attack occurred in 2004, the State/OIG recommendations were issued in 2013 and in the 2016 OIG report to Congress (PDF), we’re still seeing this as unfinished business? If there’s an excellent reason for this, we’d like to hear about it. Other previous posts:
Here are some news clips from this latest attack:
Updated 4;09 pm PT
Posted: 2:04 am ET
The State Department has created a Crisis in Istanbul page to provide updates to American citizens for the terrorist attack at the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. Excerpt below:
Turkish media is reporting that possibly two or more explosive devices detonated at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport at approximately 10:15pm local time June 28, 2016. Police and anti-terror teams are currently at the scene and there is no official announcement on the reason of the explosion(s) or the exact number of wounded. Entrance to and exit from the Airport have been prohibited. Flights have been suspended. All direct flights from Istanbul to the United States had departed prior to the attack at the airport. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the area around the airport and to avoid any police action that may be taking place throughout the city. Please check local media for the latest updates. We strongly urge U.S. citizens in Turkey to directly contact concerned family members in the United States to advise them of your safety.
Posted: 1:46 am ET
The deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11 occurred on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting which happened inside Pulse, a gay nightclub, is also the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT people in U.S. history to date. The casualties include 49 people dead and 53 wounded. The perpetrator, born and raised in New York to Afghan parents who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1980’s was killed in a shootout with the police . Below are some expressions of solidarity with Orlando, and the United States from around the world.
US Embassy Paris, France
US Embassy Berlin, Germany
US Embassy Prague, Czech Republic
US Embassy Moscow, Russia
US Embassy London, United Kingdom
US Embassy Warsaw, Poland
US Embassy Copenhagen, Denmark
US Embassy Bangkok, Thailand
US Embassy Vilnius, Lithuania
US Embassy Wellington, New Zealand
US Embassy Madrid, Spain
US Embassy New Delhi, India
US Embassy Oslo, Norway
In Moscow, two men who left flowers at the US Embassy in Moscow in memory of the Orlando victims were reportedly detained.
And in Jamaica–
Back in DC —
Posted: 12:04 am ET
Meanwhile, across the pond —
Posted: 1:36 am EDT
On March 22, the State Department issued a Europe-wide travel alert for “potential risks to travel to and throughout Europe” following the multiple attacks in Brussels:
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to potential risks of travel to and throughout Europe following several terrorist attacks, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL. Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation. This Travel Alert expires on June 20, 2016.
U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events.
U.S. citizens should also: :
- Follow the instructions of local authorities, especially in an emergency.
- Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
- Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
- Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
- Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
European governments continue to guard against terrorist attacks and conduct raids to disrupt plots. We work closely with our allies and will continue to share information with our European partners that will help identify and counter terrorist threats.
The State Department spokesperson has been unable to give a report on American casualties following the Brussels attacks and said in part:
Our embassy in Brussels continues to make every effort to account for the welfare of U.S. citizens in the city, including all government personnel. That work is ongoing. We know that a number of U.S. citizens were injured in the attacks, but we do not have an accurate figure right now. We do not know of any U.S. deaths at this point. I would note that it is still early on and that the situation is, understandably, still fluid and still uncertain. When we have more information that we can speak to, we will.
Pressed for preliminary numbers during the Daily Press Briefing, Mr. Kirby refused to give a specific number, or confirmed that members of the Mormon Church were injured in the attack. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has already publicly acknowledged that four of its missionaries were injured in the airport attack. Mr. Kirby was also asked if the State Department has been able to account for all chief-of-mission personnel, U.S. personnel to international organizations in the city. Mr. Kirby replied that “the work of accounting for U.S. citizens in the city, including government personnel, is ongoing. So as far as I know, that effort has not been completed.”
Is this the first time that the AP’s Matt Lee has actually walked out of the Daily Press Briefing in frustration?
Video below via YouTube/FreeBeacon: