For those of you who weren't paying attention over the weekend, the State Department issued an alert on Sunday in response to threats from Al Qaeda. What was truly unsettling about the alert was how vague it was. All people knew was that the threat was in Europe, and the targets were railways, subways, planes, ships and any "tourist" attractions. It seems no one is safe, no matter where they are.
Apparently the only thing Americans in Europe can do is be aware of their surroundings and take necessary safety precautions. Gee, that's comforting.
While the alert has caused some frustration among travelers, officials and terrorist experts say it was imperative. According to an article in the New York Times Travel Section, "the decision to warn travelers came as officials in Europe and the United States were assessing possible plots originating in Pakistan and North Africa, aimed at Britain, France and Germany." Information about these possible attacks came from German citizens of Afghan origin as well as from some British Pakistani residents. The attacks held enough credibility and imminence that officials had to act.
Despite the evidence, many are still angry that the alert was not specific to a certain country, but rather designated to an entire continent. The State Department responded to these complaints by saying that this alert should encourage American travelers to take "common-sense precautions," such as paying close attention to unattended packages, loud noises and any public disturbances.
For now, people are taking the alert in stride, keeping calm instead of frantically finding a way out of Europe. Officials by no means want to discourage people from traveling, they just want to alert them to the possible dangers that could occur. Then again, this alert basically sheds light on the fact that the world is not safe, and we already knew that.