In the wake of President Joe Biden’s announcement that the CIA killed the leader of Al Qaeda, the U.S. State Department is alerting Americans traveling abroad that they may now face a higher level of danger.
On Tuesday evening, the State Department issued a “worldwide caution” alert, warning American citizens overseas that the death of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri could prompt terrorist organziations to retaliate and target U.S. citizens.
“Following al-Zawahiri’s death, supporters of Al Qaeda, or its affiliated terrorist organizations, may seek to attack U.S. facilities, personnel, or citizens,” the alert stated. “As terrorist attacks often occur without warning, U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness when traveling abroad.”
The alert stated that “current information” suggested terrorist organizations were continuing to plan “attacks against U.S. interests,” and that such attacks could take a variety of forms, including asssassinations, kidnappings, hijackings and bombings.
The State Department alert comes just days after the president’s announcement that al-Zawahiri, the former deputy to Osama bin Laden, had been killed in a drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan over the weekend.
While Biden quickly tried to spin the news as an unequivocal victory for his administration, a number of experts have disputed this narrative, highlighting the fact that al-Zawahiri shouldn’t have been in Afghanistan in the first place.
On Saturday, at my direction, the United States successfully conducted an airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan that killed the emir of al-Qa’ida: Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Justice has been delivered.
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 1, 2022
“The killing of Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri will be sold as a counterterrorism success. But that narrative masks the undeniable truth that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is a safe [haven] for Al Qaeda,” Bill Roggio, terrorism analyst at the Long War Journal, tweeted.
“Zawahiri could not operate in Afghanistan — particularly in Kabul — without the consent of the Taliban,” Roggio continued. “He wasn’t in the remote mountains of Kunar, Nuristan, or Nangarhar, or distant provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, or Kandahar. He was in the Taliban’s capital.”
Max Abrahms, a professor of International Security, agreed that the death of al-Zawahiri was not “the categorical win Biden says.”
“The Taliban was supposed to prevent Al Qaeda leaders from hiding out there for goodness sake,” Abrahms said.