Al Qaeda's Retaliation Targets

After bin Laden’s death came ominous warnings of retaliation from several al Qaeda members. From New York to Indonesia, these are the regions that are amping up security and bracing for the worst.

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

U.S. Embassies in Pakistan

Almost immediately after President Obama’s speech on Sunday night, The U.S. State Department sent out a global travel advisory and issued a “heightened state of alert” until August 1, warning of “the enhanced potential for anti-American violence given recent counter-terrorism activity in Pakistan.” The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad was closed until further notice, as were the consulates in Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar. The Department of Homeland Security has also enhanced its terror warning system.

New York and New Jersey

Given that the Twin Towers were the biggest target in the September 11 attacks, terrorist alerts have been heightened throughout New York City and the state. Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke calmly on Monday in a news conference at ground zero, reporting he was “happy to say there are no new immediate threats against our city”—for now. But Bloomberg cautioned people to be on their toes at the sign of any suspicious activity, reminding New Yorkers that the region is no less a terror target now that bin Laden is dead. The New Jersey transit system, which transports many commuters from New Jersey to New York City, said in a statement Monday that they will “continue to maintain a heightened state of vigilance” and that “customers may notice an increased...police presence.”

Irwin Fedriansyah / AP Photo


With its large Muslim population, Indonesia has been a terrorist target in recent weeks. Alerts were heightened after a failed plot to blow up a church on Good Friday, and in light of other attempted attacks on moderate Muslims and police forces. Now that bin Laden is dead, the country is even more worried about the possibility of his al Qaeda followers striking back. The Indonesian island of Bali, a popular tourist spot, has stepped up security as well, and police have gone as far as to check vehicles surrounding the Kuta Beach area, where 202 people were killed during 2002 bombings (three in total, including a car bomb and a suicide bomber) orchestrated by a violent Islamist group. The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta has asked for increased security, too.

Alex Brandon / AP Photo

Washington, D.C.

On the heels of President Obama’s announcement of bin Laden’s death, extra security forces flooded the nation’s capital on Monday morning to reassure citizens that the government is doing everything in its power to be prepared for any threat of an al Qaeda reprisal. "This is just something that we normally would do. We don't have any specific threats at this time related to this. But we are ensuring that every possible precaution is taken in advance,” said a senior official of the Obama administration. During the 9/11 attacks, a plane hijacked by al Qaeda crashed into the Pentagon—the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense in D.C.— killing 189 people, 125 of whom were in the building and 54 people in addition to the hijackers on board American Airlines Flight 77.

Sipa / AP Images


All of Europe is on heightened alert after documents, which WikiLeaks revealed in April, showed that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had warned of reprisals against Europe if bin Laden were ever caught or assassinated. Specifically, he said there would be a “nuclear hellstorm.” He said in the document that the group had already hidden a nuclear bomb somewhere in Europe and that it would go off in the event of Osama bin Laden’s demise. His claims are unconfirmed, but authorities know that al Qaeda has tried to obtain nukes and may have access to uranium.

Stephen Wandera / AP Photo


Uganda’s army and defense spokesman, Lt. Col. Felix Kuliagye, said that Uganda has installed extra security at potential targets, like government buildings, shopping malls, and hotels. During the soccer World Cup in South Africa last year, two bombings killed more than 80 people in Uganda.

Sang Tan / AP Photo

United Kingdom

The threat level in the United Kingdom has remained at severe, the level which means a threat is highly likely, since 2010. Stoking fears even further, five men from London were arrested near the Sellafield nuclear site on Monday, and they are being held and questioned on suspicion of terrorism.

Michael Sohn / AP Photo


Germany is increasing security around U.S. installations, but has declined to increase security more broadly as there have been no specific warnings issued for them to act upon. Still, officials in Germany are not playing down the possible threat. Security experts have classified about 130 people in the country as “threats.” Just last Friday, three men from an independent al Qaeda cell were arrested in Dusseldorf and Bochum, after experts determined they were planning to bomb public transportation.