by WorldTribune Staff, November 23, 2016
American tourists should exercise caution when visiting holiday festivals, events and outdoor markets in France amid a rising terror threat during the holiday season, the U.S. State Department said on Nov. 21.
The State Department issued a travel advisory one day after French security services arrested seven members of a terror cell linked to Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).
“Credible information indicates ISIL, Al Qaida, and their affiliates continue to plan terrorist attacks in Europe, with a focus on the upcoming holiday season and associated events,” the State Department said in the alert, which expires on February 20, 2017.
“U.S. citizens should also be alert to the possibility that extremist sympathizers or self-radicalized 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,”
The terrorists linked to the latest plot were arrested in Strasbourg and Marseilles, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
“Never has the terrorist threat been so high in our country. The anti-terrorist services are completely mobilized,” Cazeneuve said.
Officials said the number of Islamist terror suspects on the radar screen of French authorities has grown to more than 15,000.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the threat was at its maximum level and security services were foiling attacks “every single day.”
Strasbourg is home to one of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe, with 2 million people expected to visit after it opens on Nov. 25. French media reported the market was a potential target of the terrorist cell.
The suspects arrested in Marseilles and Strasbourg are between 29 and 37-years-old and are of French, Moroccan and Afghan nationality. Only the Moroccan suspect was known to investigators, after they received intelligence from a “neighboring country.”