Algeria: US Department of State Continues to Warn US Citizens of the Risk of Travel
Effective February 6, the Department of State continues to warn US citizens of the risks of travel to Algeria.
The Department of State urges US citizens who travel to Algeria to evaluate carefully the risks posed to their personal safety. There is a high threat of terrorism and kidnappings in Algeria. This kidnapping threat was noted in the Department of State's latest Worldwide Caution. Although the major cities are heavily policed, attacks could still potentially take place. The majority of terrorist attacks, including bombings, bogus roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes occur in areas of the country east and south of Algiers.
Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) are both active and operate throughout Algeria. In January 2013, an AQIM-linked organization “Those Who Sign in Blood”, led by Moktar Belmoktar, attacked a gas production facility near In Amenas, Algeria. The group held dozens of western and Algerian hostages for four days; this attack resulted in the deaths of dozens of hostages, including three US citizens. Mokhtar Belmokhtar remains a threat and is at large in the region.
Additionally, the Algerian and Tunisian security forces are conducting ongoing security operations along the Algeria/Tunisia border in the Chaambi mountains area, south of Souk Ahras. There is a threat in this area due to the presence of extremists.
The Department of State recommends that US citizens avoid overland travel in Algeria. Thus, for security reasons, foreigners should travel only by AIR. US citizens who reside in or travel to Algeria should take personal security measures to include stocking adequate reserves of medicine, food, and water for use during an emergency. Additionally, sporadic episodes of civil unrest have been known to occur, such as the riots in Algiers and many other cities. US citizens should avoid large crowds and demonstrations because even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable. US citizens should be alert and aware of their surroundings and maintain security awareness at all times. US citizens should regularly monitor the local news media for current news and information.
Visitors to Algeria are advised to stay only in hotels where adequate security is provided. All visitors to Algeria should remain alert, avoid predictable travel patterns, and maintain a low profile. US citizens should avoid political rallies of all kinds. Most political gatherings are peaceful but can turn violent without notice.
The US government considers the potential threat to US Embassy personnel assigned to Algiers sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under significant security restrictions. These practices limit, and may occasionally prevent, the movement of US Embassy officials and the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country. The Government of Algeria requires US Embassy personnel to seek permission to travel to the Casbah within Algiers or outside the province of Algiers and to have a security escort. Travel to the military zone established around the Hassi Messaoud oil center requires Government of Algeria authorization. Daily movement of Embassy personnel in parts of Algiers is limited, and prudent security practices are required at all times. Travel by Embassy personnel within certain areas of the city requires coordination with the US Embassy's Regional Security Office.
US citizens living or traveling in Algeria are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel updates and to obtain updated information on security within Algeria. By enrolling, US citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 0800 hours to 2000 hours EST, Monday through Friday (except US federal holidays).
The US Embassy is located at 5 Chemin Cheikh Bachir El-Ibrahimi in the El Biar district of Algiers, and can be reached by telephone at (213) 770 08 20 00. The fax is (213) 21 98 22 99. The consular section email isACSAlgiers@state.gov.
I retired from the US State Department in April 2006, after a career as a special agent, Senior Regional Security Officer (SRSO), director of training, chief investigator of the Cyprus Missing Persons Program, director of security of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and as a senior adviser in the Office of Anti-Terrorism Assistance.
My book, STAYING SAFE ABROAD: TRAVELING, WORKING AND LIVING IN A POST-9/11 WORLD was published in May 2008.
A complete update of STAYING SAFE ABROAD 2015, will be release during early 2015 for the iPad, Kindle and Nook and other e-readers.
I am a former Federal Firearms Dealer (US), a certified NRA pistol instructor and a certified NRA Range Safety Officer.
My career has also included 15 years as an international security consultant; for ten years I served as the security adviser to the Inter-American Development Bank.
I additionally, served six years in the Marines, which included combat service in Vietnam.
I am available for operational assignments, lecturing opportunities and in providing security solutions anywhere in the world.