The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season. U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution at holiday festivals and events. In the recent past, terrorist actors such as ISIS, al-Qaida and their affiliates have focused on soft targets such as the Berlin Christmas market and a night club in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve for their mass casualty attacks. 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. 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. Tourist locations, transportation hubs and local government facilities make for the most viable targets, and those travelling to foreign areas should practice the utmost vigilance in these high priority areas.
Takeaways: With the heightened security risks during this time of the year, it is crucial to maintain situational awareness and be wary of your surroundings. When traveling to known target locations, have a plan so you know what to do if an incident occurs.During an attack, it is equally important to maintain your awareness, as follow-up attacks may trail the initial threat. Mapping an escape route, avoiding pitfalls such as filming the event, and putting distance between yourself and a threat are all integral to heightening your chance for survival.