Chicago-area residents looking to catch a flight—domestic or international—should use extra caution over the next few months, government officials say.
Following the historic news that world-renowned terrorist and al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed late Sunday night, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning Monday for all U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad to the possibility of enhanced anti-American violence.
“Given the uncertainty and volatility of the current situation, U.S. citizens in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence are strongly urged to limit their travel to outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations,” the alert said.
According to the head of the CIA, a report said, al-Qaida will "almost certainly" seek revenge after their leader bin Laden was killed in a US-led operation in Pakistan.
The state department’s alert is in effect until Aug. 1 and officials are urging citizens to “stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times."
In Chicago, more than 100 flights are scheduled to take travelers abroad each day, most to Canada. Hundreds more fly to major cities such as New York, Los Angeles or Washington, D.C.
James Foteno, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, said delays due to heightened security could be possible.
“TSA continually evaluates the latest threats and screening measures which are implemented based on the latest intelligence,” a prepared TSA statement said. “As always, passengers may notice a variety of security measures at U.S. airports to include the use of explosives detection technology, physical bag checks, random gate screening, canine teams and behavior detection officers. We ask the traveling public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.”
Meanwhile, officials at the National Terrorism Advisory System said they do not intend to issue an alert at this time. The agency remains at a heightened state of vigilance though.
“I have been clear since announcing NTAS in January that we will only issue alerts when we have specific or credible information to convey to the American public,” U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said in a news release. “However, our security posture, which always includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an evolving threat picture both in the coming days and beyond.”
A spokesperson with the Chicago Department of Aviation said delays due to additional passenger requirements, such as limiting the amount of carry-on bags, would be enforced on an airline-by-airline basis.
The Department of State also operates the Consular Information Program, which offers safety tips for traveling abroad and informs the public about conditions that may affect their safety and security.