The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday warned American citizens overseas of an increased threat of “anti-American violence” following the announcement this week that an American airstrike had eliminated al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Arabiya reported on Wednesday.
Washington issued the warning to U.S. embassies and consulates on August 2 as part of a “Worldwide Caution” notice. The U.S. State Department last updated its Worldwide Caution notice on January 15, 2019, demonstrating the significance of Tuesday’s announcement.
“Following al-Zawahiri’s death, supporters of al- Qa’ida, or its affiliated terrorist organizations, may seek to attack U.S. facilities, personnel, or citizens,” the press release read, in part.
The State Department said that it “believes there is a higher potential for anti-American violence given the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri on July 31, 2022.”
“Current information suggests that terrorist organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions across the globe. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings,” the bureau detailed.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced on August 1 that a U.S. military airstrike had killed al-Zawahiri in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 30.
“None of his family members were hurt, and there were no civilian casualties,” Biden noted.
Al-Zawahiri was the most recent leader of al-Qaeda, an international Sunni jihadist terrorist group. He succeeded al-Qaeda’s former chief, Osama bin Laden, in 2011 after a U.S. special forces unit neutralized bin Laden in Pakistan in May of that year. Bin Laden masterminded al-Qaeda’s terrorist attacks on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001. The acts spurred Washington to launch its War in Afghanistan (2001-2021). The U.S. government suspected that Afghanistan’s Taliban terror group harbored bin Laden in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001, attacks and believed that it had generally provided al-Qaeda affiliates with safe haven.
Al-Zawahiri served as bin Laden’s deputy prior to reigning as al-Qaeda’s chief, meaning his history with the terror group spanned decades.
U.S. President Joe Biden recalled some of the gravest terror attacks overseen by al-Zawahiri during his August 1 announcement of the leader’s death, stating:
He was deeply involved in the planning of 9/11 [September 11, 2001 terror attacks], one of the most responsible for the attacks that murdered 2,977 people on American soil.
For decades, he was a mastermind behind attacks against Americans, including the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, which killed 17 American sailors and wounded dozens more.
He played a key role — a key role in the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 and wounding over 4,500 others.
Biden further noted that al-Zawahiri had “made videos, including in recent weeks, calling for his followers to attack the United States and our allies.”