US warns of ‘heightened’ risk of terror attacks on Christmas markets in Europe as Isil loses grip on Mosul and Raqqa
The US warned travellers to be vigilant at Christmas markets Credit: Alamy
Raf Sanchez, Middle East correspondent
Telegraph, 22 November 2016 • 12:25pm
The US has warned its citizens that Europe is facing a “heightened risk of terror attacks” at Christmas markets and other seasonal holiday events.
The US State Department said it had “credible information” that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and al-Qaeda were planning attacks and focusing on the “upcoming holiday season”.
It specifically warned American travellers to exercise caution at “holiday festivals, events and outdoor markets”.
The travel warning was issued as the US military said it expected Isil to resort to more traditional terrorist attacks after it loses its twin city strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa, both of which are under pressure.
“We don’t think they are going to become an organisation that no longer presents a danger once Raqqa and Mosul are taken away,” said Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for the US-led coalition against Isil.
“What they are going to do is devolve into the type of terror organisation that we’ve known they were all along and continue to try to do external operations and try to motivate lone wolf attackers.”
The State Department warning was released a week after the one-year anniversary of the 2015 Paris attacks, which killed 130 people across the French capital.
It does not mention any specific countries as being particularly at risk but notes that the last year has seen attacks in Belgium, France, Germany, and Turkey. The warning makes no mention of Britain.
“The Department of State alerts US citizens to the heightened risk of terrorist attacks throughout Europe, particularly during the holiday season. US citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals, events, and outdoor markets,” the warning said.
“Credible information indicates the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil or Da’esh), al-Qaeda, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events.
“US citizens should also be alert to the possibility that extremist sympathisers or self-radicalised extremists may conduct attacks during this period with little or no warning. Terrorists may employ a wide variety of tactics, using both conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.”