The U.S. Department of State is upholding a travel alert placed over Europe earlier this month, said a counterterrorism coordinator on Thursday.
According to U.S. counterterrorism coordinator Daniel Benjamin, the Mumbai-style terror plot aimed at several European cities is still in play and enough of a possibility not to rescind the alert.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State and several other foreign offices issues an alert to their citizens in Europe, warning them that there was a high chance of terrorist attack similar to the one that killed 166 people in Mumbai, India.
American travelers and expatriates were advised by the State Department to keep a low profile and to take general safety precautions. The State Department did not, however, issue a formal warning to Americans not to travel to Europe.
German and Pakistani officials have expressed skepticism about the seriousness of the terror threat, questioning if the alert was an overreaction.
Benjamin refuted those doubts, saying that the upholding of the travel alert was based on months of intelligence and new information from Ahmed Siddiqui, one of several German nationals capture by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
According to Benjamin, intelligence information has been consistent though not specific. The State Department felt obligated to make the public aware of the plot and issue an alert even though the details were still vague, Benjamin says.
Another reason behind the upholding of the alert, according to Benjamin, has also been the actions of European nations, who have not changed their terror threat levels. In Britain, for example, current terror threat levels remain high, warning that an attack is highly likely.
Across the pond, American cities are also not taking any chances. On Thursday, New York City police conducted a drill stimulating a Mumbai-style attack on a crowded street in Manhattan’s financial district.
The drill began with two large explosions and simulated several bombs and shooters.
This is not a first for the NYPD. The police department started training to counter terrorist commando assaults immediately after the Mumbai shootings in 2008.
By Adriana Padilla at PeterGreenberg.com.
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