The U.S. State Department issued travel warnings for Egypt and Jordan on Friday, citing terrorist threats in both countries.
The State Department recommends that U.S. citizens traveling in Egypt avoid the Western Desert and the Sinai Peninsula beyond the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh. In the case of Jordan, the State Department warned against traveling to and throughout the entire country.
As NPR's Nate Rott reports, "Earlier this month, a bombing near St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Cairo killed at least 25 people. And just earlier this week, an attack at a popular tourist destination in Karak, Jordan, killed 10" — including a Canadian tourist. Those attacks were the biggest in Egypt and Jordan in the last month, but far from the only ones. The Islamic State has claimed credit for both.
The State Department reminded U.S. citizens that terrorist organizations in Jordan often target Westerners.
"Within the last year, Jordanian authorities have notified the U.S. Embassy of several disrupted terrorist plots targeting U.S. citizens and Westerners. In addition, terrorist entities continue to express interest in attacking malls, hotels, restaurants, and other soft targets in country."
The State Department warnings note that, despite heavy security around major tourist sites, terrorist attacks can happen anywhere.
The tourism industry in Egypt has suffered in recent years due to political instability, threats of terrorism and accusations of human rights violations by the state. NPR's Malaka Gharib recently wrote about the decline in tourism and its impact on Sharm El-Sheikh, where she spent childhood summers while her father managed the Hilton Fayrouz.