The US State Department issued a travel warning to all of Europe on Tuesday, alerting US citizens to the “risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe, targeting major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers and transportation.”
“The large number of tourists visiting Europe in the summer months will present greater targets for terrorists planning attacks in public locations, especially at large events,” the alert read, saying the risk was high in wake of several terrorist attacks in Europe, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels claimed by Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.
France will host the European Soccer Championship in June. “Euro Cup stadiums, fan zones, and unaffiliated entertainment venues broadcasting the tournaments in France and across Europe represent potential targets for terrorists, as do other large-scale sporting events and public gathering places throughout Europe,” the alert read.
France has extended its state of emergency through July to cover the period of the soccer championship, as well as the Tour de France cycling race which will be held throughout July.
The Catholic Church’s World Youth Day event is expected to draw up to 2.5 million visitors to Krakow, Poland, at the end of July. “US citizens should be aware that local infrastructure may be strained due to the large number of visitors… visitors to Poland during this period should be prepared to show their passport and undergo stricter security screening throughout Poland.”
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, State Department Spokesperson John Kirby attempted to tone down the alert, saying it was a renewal of an alert issued on Europe six months ago and “would have come anyway,” and that this was “a good opportunity” to put all the terror threats “into perspective.”
“I’m not aware of any specific, credible terrorist threat around these events or in any particular place in Europe. This alert was issued just as they always are, based on an accumulation of information and what we know continues to be an interest by terrorist groups to conduct attacks against Western targets, and Americans specifically, in Europe,” Kirby said.
“It was just an administrative decision to try to get this information out to Americans that are traveling abroad,” he added.
The US is not advising Americans to stay away from summer events in Europe, he clarified, “just to stay vigilant.”
ISIS, which has carried out several massive and deadly attacks on the Continent in the past few years, specifically in France and recently in Brussels, and against the Stade de France soccer stadium where three ISIS suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the stadium during an international soccer match last November, has issued several threats to attack again in Europe, and specifically mentioning the Euro Cup games.