The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad to the enhanced potential for anti-American violence following recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan. Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations.For the record, no, I’m not personally worried at all. New Zealand is one of the least likely places for foreign terrorists to strike, and Australia is only a little more likely. The citizens of these two countries are more likely to be in danger in other countries. This is nothing like September 2001, when there was fear even here because we simply didn’t know enough about the threat we faced.
U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. This Travel Alert expires August 1, 2011.
U.S. Embassy operations in affected areas will continue to the extent possible under the constraints of any evolving security situation. U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. Embassies and Consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Media coverage of local events may cause family and friends to become concerned for their loved ones traveling and residing abroad. We urge U.S. citizens to keep in regular contact with family and friends. U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), to receive the latest travel updates and information and to obtain updated information on travel and security issues. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
Travel information is also available at www.travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
For information on "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis," please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs' website at www.travel.state.gov. For further information on specific countries, U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information pages, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings at www.travel.state.gov as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs' page on Facebook as well.
Things have changed and we know so much more now—including that New Zealand wasn’t at any risk back in 2001. There’s no such thing as a total lack of risk anywhere in the world, but we, here, arguably fare better than most.
I don’t think anyone would begrudge me being thankful for that.
Update: Brian Edwards has an interesting take on the "recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan" and the reaction of those of us who, in Edwards' words, "have no qualms" about the events.