State Department Issues Heightened Terrorism Alert After Killing of al-Qaeda Leader Al Zawahiri

State Department Issues Heightened Terrorism Alert After Killing of al-Qaeda Leader Al Zawahiri
Osama bin Laden (L) sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri (R), an Egyptian linked to the al-Qaeda terrorist group, during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir (not pictured) in an image supplied by Dawn newspaper on Nov. 10, 2001. (Hamid Mir/Editor/Ausaf Newspaper for Daily Dawn/Handout via Reuters)
Katabella Roberts
The State Department has warned of an increased potential for attacks on Americans abroad following the killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri, adding that current information suggests terror groups continue to plan terrorist attacks on U.S. interests.
The agency stated that there is a "higher potential for anti-American violence" in a Worldwide Caution advisory on Tuesday.

Officials said they remain "concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas" and that "the Department of State believes there is a higher potential for anti-American violence" following the killing of Zawahiri in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 31.

American forces conducted a precision drone strike on Zawahiri after he was tracked down by the U.S. intelligence community earlier this year, President Joe Biden said when announcing his killing this week.

Biden added that there were no civilian casualties as a result of the strike.

In its advisory on Tuesday, the State Department said that current information "suggests that terrorist organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions across the globe" and that these attacks "may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings."

The department said that terrorist attacks, political violence, criminal activities, and other security incidents can often occur without any warning, and encouraged U.S. citizens to remain highly vigilant when traveling abroad, regularly monitor the news, and practice "good situational awareness."

Most Wanted Terrorist

The State Department noted that U.S. government facilities around the world are constantly monitoring for potential security threats and may "temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture," in which case U.S. embassies and consulates will attempt to provide U.S. citizens with emergency services.

U.S. citizens traveling abroad are urged to stay in contact with their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in case a terror threat were to occur. They should also regularly check government travel advisories before embarking on their travels abroad, the department said.

Tuesday's version of the advisory replaces the previous Worldwide Caution dated Jan. 15, 2019.

The update comes just four days after the death of Zawahiri, a 71-year-old Egyptian native who took over from Osama bin Laden as the leader of al-Qaeda in June 2011, following the killing of bin Laden by U.S. military.

Zawahiri had been listed as an FBI "most wanted terrorist," for the murder of U.S. nationals outside the United States (pdf) and the State Department had offered a reward of up to $25 million for information leading directly to his apprehension or conviction.

He was also alleged to have helped mastermind the 9/11 attacks on the United States, having served as bin Laden's "number-two man, his deputy at the time of the terrorist attack," Biden said in a White House press briefing on Aug. 1.

"People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer," Biden said. "The United States continues to demonstrate our resolve and our capacity to defend the American people against those who seek to do us harm."

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, wrote on Twitter on Monday that "an air strike was carried out on a residential house in Sherpur area of Kabul city" the past Sunday. The spokesperson added that the attack was conducted by American drones.