The United States Embassy in Italy has issued a security alert to all Americans abroad, warning them to avoid locations that have been identified as potential targets for terrorist attacks.
At the top of the short list is “St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City (Rome).”
The November 18 notice is billed as a “Security Message for U.S. Citizens” regarding a potential for terrorist attacks, and arrived punctually into the email boxes of all Americans registered with the embassy, including that of Breitbart News.
Along with the Vatican, the State Department singles out the Duomo (cathedral) and La Scala opera house in Milan. It goes on to note that general venues “such as churches, synagogues, restaurants, theatres, and hotels” in both Rome and Milan are possible targets as well.
The embassy notice says: “Terrorist groups may possibly utilize similar methods used in the recent Paris attacks,” meaning bombs and assault rifles.
The alert also mentions that Italian authorities are aware of these threats, signaling that there will be additional security in these places, a phenomenon that is already evident.
Immediately following last Friday’s jihadist attacks in Paris, the Italian government issued a level-two terrorist alert for the whole country, considerably increasing security measures around the Vatican City State.
The level-two alert comprises the deployment of forces from the army’s special units. Army units have been dispatched to conduct regular patrols on the streets surrounding the Vatican, and can be seen in clusters around the city-state carrying high-powered weapons.
Patrols will reportedly intensify in the coming weeks leading up to the beginning of the Vatican’s Jubilee Year of Mercy on December 8.
“The danger is real and objective,” said Franco Roberti, the head of Italy’s anti-mafia and counterterrorism task force earlier this week, “but it is not concrete or delimited.”
“We must protect ourselves from this danger by adopting all the preventive measures necessary. We do not need special laws, but we must be prepared to give up some of our personal freedoms, in particular in the area of communication,” he said.
The embassy alert advised U.S. citizens “to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings.”
It also encourages them “to monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome