State Department warns anti-American violence may increase after al-Zawahiri killing

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday issued a “Worldwide Caution” warning that anti-American violence abroad may increase following the U.S. drone strike that killed al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri over the weekend. 

“Current information suggests that terrorist organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions across the globe. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings,”  the State Department wrote in the alert

The death of al-Zawahiri, a key planner of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and a former deputy to Osama bin Laden, has triggered “a higher potential for anti-American violence,” the department warned, as al Qaeda and others respond to the U.S. move.

The alert counseled Americans abroad to check the State Department site for travel advisories, watch local news for updates and stay connected to U.S. embassies and consulates in the destination country.

U.S. facilities abroad “may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services” as threats and security situations are evaluated and dealt with. Security issues and political violence “often take place without any warning.”

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday that the strike has made the U.S. safer.

Former CIA leader Michael Morell noted that the national security focus now shifts to whoever succeeds al-Zawahiri as al Qaeda’s leader.  

The State Department on Tuesday also warned Americans against traveling to participate in armed conflict abroad.  

“U.S. citizens are reminded that fighting on behalf of, or providing other forms of support to, designated terrorist organizations can constitute the provision of material support for terrorism, which is a serious crime that can result in penalties, including prison time and large fines.”