According to the US State Department credible information exists “indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests.”
No part of Syria should be considered immune from violence. The security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable as a civil war between government and armed anti-government groups continues throughout the country. There is an increased threat of terrorism from groups such as ISL, al-Nusrah, as well as other extremists whose tactics include use of suicide bombers, kidnappings, use of small and heavy arms, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Since the start of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in March 2011, the United States has received reports of numerous foreigners kidnapped in Syria, many of whom are still in captivity.
The majority of the victims are journalists and aid workers. U.S. citizens and other Westerners have been murdered by ISIL in Syria. Violent extremists from various countries operate in Syria and may be planning attacks against the United States and other Western targets.
A number of extremist groups also operate in Lebanon and the potential for death or injury in Lebanon exists because of periodic terrorist bombing attacks throughout the country. As a result of spillover violence from the Syria crisis, Sunni groups are active and Hizballah, a group designated by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, has been present and active for many years.
U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence. Numerous insurgent groups, including ISIL, previously known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, remain active and terrorist activity and violence persists in many areas of the country. ISIL and its allies control Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and have captured significant territory across central Iraq and continue to engage with Iraqi security forces in that region.
Syria is another hotbed of terrorism, thanks in part to the US policy to flood the region with weapons and training ISIS to fight in that country.
See video: Sen. Rand Paul Argues Against U.S. Arming Syrian Rebels on Senate Floor – September 18, 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DveDwEk122Y
West Africa, Tunisia
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and al-Murabitun remain active and operate primarily in southern Algeria, southwestern Libya and Tunisia in the wake of French and African intervention in northern Mali.
In Algeria, terrorists sporadically attack Westerners and Algerian government targets, particularly in the Kabylie region, and near Algeria’s borders with Libya and Mali. In September, a French tourist was kidnapped and murdered by an Algerian-based terrorist group.
Terrorists have targeted oil processing plants in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.
In Libya, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests. Terrorist organizations continue to be active in Yemen, including al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).