U.S. State Department issues worldwide travel alert due to increase in terror threats

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015
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Stephanie Ramos reporting live

The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert for U.S. citizens traveling abroad due to an increase in terror threats.

The alert said ISIL, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups continue to plan attacks in multiple regions.

"These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests," said the State Department in the alert.

The alert runs through Feb. 24, 2016.

For anyone traveling out of the U.S., the State Department offered these tips:

- Exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation

- Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places

- Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events

- Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities

The State Department said anyone traveling abroad should stay in touch with family and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.

With the Thanksgiving 'hustle' already underway Tuesday at Kennedy Airport, travelers and their families had heard the latest warnings and reacted in different ways.

"Obviously everyone should be concerned," said one JFK traveler.

"You can't let fear rule your life, that's what they want," said another traveler, Karush Daruwala. "You go, you live your life, and be happy."

And Police Commissioner William Bratton echoed that sentiment, saying that freedom from fear is our shared responsibility.

"We've been doing a lot of preparedness, the drills we went through on Sunday,' Bratton said. "No, people should have no fear. What we would ask though, is awareness."

The advisory said "authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL return from Syria and Iraq."

There is also an advisory from the Department of Homeland Security, warning all local law enforcement about the the possibility that ISIS sympathizers "could seek to replicate the effects of the Paris attacks using similar weapons and tactics, although on a smaller scale."

It is important to point out there is no direct threat here at home. Still, "We are and we continue to be, and have been concerned about copycat like attacks," said Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson.

The question is, how will these warnings translate here at home, specifically at upcoming, crowded holiday events in the city, such as the Thanksgiving Day parade.

"This year for the first time our force will be supplemented by a force of 200 freshly trained critical response cops, working along with our officers from the strategic response group," said Bratton. "There will be a lot of police presence, things the public will see, and of course things the public will not see."

There is also a registry for travelers called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).