x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

US diplomatic missions on high alert after bin Laden killed

Americans in the UAE and around the world have been warned to beware of 'anti-American violence' in the wake of the death of Osama bin Laden.

DUBAI // US diplomatic missions in the Emirates are on high alert today after Osama bin Laden was shot and killed in Pakistan, even as officials stepped up security at American government facilities across the world.

American embassy officials also issued a travel advisory, cautioning citizens in the UAE and elsewhere to the possibility of anti-American violence following the US government’s military operations. Bin Laden was killed at a compound in the city of Abbottabad after an 80-minute battle with US-led forces.

“The embassy and the consulate take security very seriously,” said Robert Arbuckle, a US embassy spokesperson in Abu Dhabi. “Like all US facilities overseas, we remain at a heightened state of alert. We appreciate the support the UAE government gives in providing security and support.”

The US diplomatic missions sent out a warden message to US nationals registered with them on Monday morning after the US president Barack Obama announced to the world that Bin Laden, the most wanted terrorist in the world and the founder of al Qa’eda, had been killed.

Warden messages are safety or travel information for US citizens abroad, issued by the State Department and communicated to overseas citizens through embassies and consulates.

“We started the day by sending out warden messages, passing on a worldwide travel alert, to our citizens registered with the embassy and the consulate in the UAE,” Mr Arbuckle said.

The message to US citizens also said that US embassy operations in affected areas will continue to the extent possible under the constraints of any evolving security situation.

“These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture,” said the message from the US Department of State.

The advisory also urged US nationals to limit travel and keep away from large gatherings.

“Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, US citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations,” teh advisory stated.

Americans were also asked to keep track of local events and to “be aware of their surroundings at all times.”

The security situation, however, would not interrupt standard public services at the missions, said the embassy official.

In a press statement, the British Embassy in Dubai said, “The news that Osama bin Laden is dead will bring great relief to people across the world. Osama bin Laden was responsible for the worst terrorist atrocities the world has seen — for 9/11 and for so many attacks, which have cost thousands of lives, many of them British.

“It is a great success that he has been found and will no longer be able to pursue his campaign of global terror,” the British Embassy said. “This is a time to remember all those murdered by Osama bin Laden, and all those who lost loved ones. It is also a time to to thank all those who work round the clock to keep us safe from terrorism. Their work will continue.”

British authorities, however, declined to comment on any security measures at their local missions.