U.S. Embassy Warns U.S. Citizens in Lebanon of Possible 'Terrorist Attacks'

Posted on: August 11, 2012 at 01:01
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut said Friday that it has “received reports of an increased possibility of attacks against U.S. citizens in Lebanon.”

“Possible threats include kidnapping, the potential for an upsurge in violence, the escalation of family or neighborhood disputes, as well as U.S. citizens being the target of terrorist attacks in Lebanon,” the embassy said in a warning for U.S. citizens published on its website.

“U.S. Embassy personnel remain under strict travel restrictions, and all U.S. citizens are urged to take additional security precautions,” the embassy added.

It urged U.S. citizens to “consult the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Lebanon, to assess their personal security, vary travel routes, exercise caution, take appropriate measures to ensure their safety, and report any suspicious or unusual activity immediately to authorities.”

Earlier on Friday, the United States added Hizbullah to a list of organizations under sanctions for their ties to the Syrian regime.

''This action highlights Hizbullah's activities within Syria and its integral role in the continued violence the Assad regime is inflicting on the Syrian population,'' the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.

Hizbullah has denied a report recently published by the Saudi newspaper Okaz about the death of 56 of its fighters in battles in Syria’s Aleppo.

“This report is baseless, has nothing to do with reality and was fabricated by the imagination of the sources that composed it,” the party said.

Also on Friday, Washington said it fears Hizbullah may be planning imminent attacks in Europe and around the world.

''Our assessment is that Hizbullah and Iran will both continue to maintain a heightened level of terrorist activity and operations in the near future,'' said Daniel Benjamin, the U.S. State Department's counter-terrorism coordinator.

''We are increasingly concerned about Hizbullah's activities on a number of fronts, including its stepped up terrorist campaign around the world,'' he said.

''And we assess that Hizbullah could attack in Europe or elsewhere at any time with little or no warning,'' he warned, in a conference call with reporters to announce new U.S. sanctions against Hizbullah, Iran and Syria.

The Internal Security Forces Intelligence Branch arrested former minister Michel Samaha on Thursday ''for security reasons,'' the acting general prosecutor said.

LBCI and MTV reported that the former minister confessed to planning bombings that would have been carried out during Ramadan iftars in northern Lebanon.

''Samaha confessed to smuggling explosives in his car from Syria to Lebanon,'' reported LBCI.

Samaha is known for his pro-Syrian regime views and media reports say he served as an advisor to Syrian President Bashar Assad. He was among several pro-Syrian Lebanese officials who were sanctioned in 2007 by the United States for “contributing to political and economic instability in Lebanon.”
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