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State Department Warns: 'Specific Threats Against U.S. Government' in Libya

12:01 PM, Dec 13, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The State Department is warning Americans not to travel to Libya. The stated reason: "extremist groups in Libya made specific threats against U.S. government officials and U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Libya."

The State Department warning reads, "The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Libya and strongly advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli and against all travel to areas outsideof Tripoli. Because of ongoing instability and violence, the Department’s ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens within Tripoliis extremely limited, and the Department cannot provide consular services outside Tripoli except by telephone. The U.S. Embassy in Libya remains an unaccompanied post due to security concerns. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated June 7, 2013.

The Libyan government is still working to rebuild its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. The security situation remains unpredictable and unstable. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country. In addition to the threat of crime, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya. For instance, in October and December 2013, extremist groups in Libya made specific threats against U.S. government officials and U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Libya. Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted by extremist groups seeking to injure or kill U.S. citizens, and should act accordingly with extreme caution. In addition, on December 5, 2013, a U.S. citizen teacher resident in Benghazi was killed in a drive-by shooting near his home. 

Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country and attacks by armed militants can occur in many different areas; hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. On November 15, 2013, fighting between militias and protesters in Tripoli resulted in the deaths of approximately 50 people with hundreds more injured. Since that time, some militias have withdrawn from Tripoli. However, checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli and other urban areas have witnessed fighting between armed groups and government forces. Closures or threats of closures of the international airports occur regularly, for maintenance-, labor-, or security-related reasons.

In a September 11, 2012, four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were murdered by al Qaeda-alligned terrorists.

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