Travel alerts issued ahead of possible Quran burning
Stars and Stripes September 10, 2010
NAPLES, Italy — The State Department issued a warning to U.S. citizens traveling abroad in anticipation of possible reaction to claims by Florida pastor Terry Jones that his church would burn copies of the Quran on Saturday, the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.
The travel alerts remain in effect despite an announcement by Jones on Thursday that the burning had been called off, according to the Associated Press, pending a meeting Saturday with the organizers behind a mosque planned near ground zero in New York.
“Demonstrations, some violent, have already taken place in several countries, including Afghanistan and Indonesia, in response to media reports of the church’s plans,” said the State Department warning issued Thursday. “The potential for further protests and demonstrations, some of which may turn violent, remains high.”
Police in northern Afghanistan reported several hundred demonstrators rushed a NATO compound in the northern town of Badakhshan, during which four protesters and five police officers were injured, according to the AP.
Interpol has also issued a global terror alert to its 188 member countries at the request of Pakistan’s Interior Minister, according to information posted on the website.
“Although there are currently no specific details as to what forms of terror attacks would follow, what is clear is if the Quran burning goes ahead as planned, there will be tragic consequences, ones which may well claim the lives of many innocent people,” according to a statement issued by Ronald Nobel, Interpol’s secretary general.
Jones said Thursday he suspended the book burning after receiving assurances from Imam Muhammad Musri, the president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, that the proposed site of the Islamic cultural center just blocks from where the World Trade Center once stood, would be relocated, according to the AP.
However, there was no agreement to move the site of the center, the imam told the AP after Jones’ conference, only that he would arrange a meeting in New York.
Jones also had a brief telephone conversation with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who stressed the event could put the lives of U.S. troops in danger.