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WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) --The United States has issued a global travel alert because of an al-Qaeda terrorist threat.

TheState Department says the potential for terrorism is particularlystrong in the Middle East and North Africa. It says an attack couldoccur or come from the Arabian Peninsula.

The alert reads:"Current information suggests that al-Qa'ida and affiliatedorganizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region andbeyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the periodbetween now and the end of August."

The travel alert expires on Aug. 31.

"Terroristsmay elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target bothofficial and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of thepotential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems andother tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attackedsubway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services.U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of theirsurroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protectthemselves when traveling," the alert reads.

It is recommendedthat U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Sectionof the U.S. Embassy through the State Department's travel registrationwebsite.

"We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens travelingabroad enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler EnrollmentProgram (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates,and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate tocontact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enrolldirectly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate," the alert reads.

"Wecontinue to work closely with other nations on the threat frominternational terrorism, including from al-Qa'ida. Information isroutinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order todisrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potentialoperatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats," itsays.

The travel alert comes a day after the U.S. announced thatit would shutter its embassies and consulates throughout the Muslimworld on Sunday, and possibly longer.

The threat was linked toal-Qaeda and focused on the Middle East and Central Asia, said Rep. EdRoyce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

State Department officials said Thursday they were acting out of an "abundance of caution."

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