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As per NBC (the prediction ended up being false, zero attacks followed the warning):

U.S. citizens in Moscow have been warned to avoid large gatherings Friday and Saturday because of heightened fears of a terrorist attack.

The U.S. Embassy in the Russian capital said it was "monitoring reports that extremists have imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow, to include concerts, and U.S. citizens should be advised to avoid large gatherings over the next 48 hours."

U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, monitor local media for updates and "be aware of your surroundings," it said in a brief online update.

The embassy did not elaborate on who or what poses the apparent threat to the Russian capital, or what kind of attack may be imminent.

Do such warnings have a good track record of being true? Note that any government warning about a terrorist attack would count for the purposes of this question, not just 'travel advisories'.

Update: the prediction came true two weeks later.

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  • I did my own research and AFAIK there hasn't been a single time where a government issued a warning that was followed by an actual attack. But maybe I didn't find some instances. Mar 8 at 19:34
  • There was some kind of gun battle in Ingushetia or something like that recently. euronews.com/2024/03/04/… Mar 8 at 19:46
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    This example look a little odd because it is a warning against a general attack but only given out to the tiny number of US citizens in Moscow, afaik there was no equivalent warning for Russian citizens by the Russian government.
    – quarague
    Mar 11 at 7:25
  • @quarague maybe the Russian government had better info of who where etc and stopped it without warning anyone
    – Caleth
    Mar 11 at 9:23
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    @Caleth I think these warnings just fail to materialize in general Mar 11 at 15:54

2 Answers 2

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Sadly, I think the question just got answered:

Moscow attack: Did Russia ignore US 'extremist' attacks warning?

The 7 March warning from the US to its own citizens was unusually specific. It talked of reports that "extremists" had "imminent plans to target large gatherings in Moscow" and specifically mentioned concerts. It advised Americans in the city to avoid large gatherings over the coming 48 hours.

The timing may not quite match, but other details do tally closely with events on 22 March. It seems clear Washington had some kind of intelligence and that it related to Islamic State (IS) - the group that has issued a statement saying it was behind the Moscow attack.

F...ing nutcase ISIS. Just like Bataclan. Condolences.


The US supposedly warned Iran about the attack ISIS carried out at the Soleimani memorial on Jan 3, 2024, which killed 84.

CNN

“Prior to ISIS’ terrorist attack on January 3, 2024, in Kerman, Iran, the US government provided Iran with a private warning that there was a terrorist threat within Iranian borders,” the official said. “The US government followed a longstanding ‘duty to warn’ policy that has been implemented across administrations to warn governments against potential lethal threats. We provide these warnings in part because we do not want to see innocent lives lost in terror attacks.”

The Iranian government was ultimately unable to stop the ISIS attack, which was the deadliest in Iran since its 1979 revolution. At least 84 people were killed and 284 injured in the blasts on January 3, which hit near Soleimani’s burial site in southern Iran. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack one day later.


(That said, one also needs to remember that anti-terrorism watchers probably get a lot of false alarms and leads that never pan out. It is is a well-known human tendency to over-weigh low occurrence prediction "matches" in while ignoring all those that fall through. That's what helps horoscope writers to make bank). So being told doesn't automatically mean: should have caught it.

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  • +1 but do we know how specific the warning was, as well as how often the US government previously issued such private warnings? A yearly "there might be a terrorist attack this year!" warning is not very helpful. Mar 8 at 20:20
  • That's not exactly a travel advisory to citizens the OP is asking about. The OP has repeatedly stated before that these advisories are bogus.
    – littleadv
    Mar 8 at 20:40
  • @littleadv it doesn't have to be a 'travel advisory'. Any warning about a terrorist attack would count. Ideally it should be public and we should have some way of verifying how often the warnings came true. Mar 8 at 20:50
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    @JonathanReez I'm sure you understand how ridiculous your demand is.
    – littleadv
    Mar 8 at 20:52
  • @littleadv there's lots of research into questions like this. For an example see this answer. Mar 8 at 20:56
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Ideally these threats are neutralized before materializing. In most cases you won't even hear about any follow ups (which may lead you to think that the warning was bogus), but sometimes it does come into public view.

In the Middle East, for example, there's the Iranian plot to kidnap Israelis from Turkey. Similarly, warnings for the Sinai insurgency have materialized, or the recent war in Gaza which started with multiple kidnappings of, among others, foreign citizens by the Palestinian militants (and most countries have a standing travel advisory to Israel).


For more generic examples of countries warning other countries about things that end up materializing - there are plenty. One example, again from the Middle East, would be the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Jordanians went as far as having the king himself come to Tel Aviv to warn Israel about it, yet their warning was ignored and the threat materialized.

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  • Did the first warning about the Sinai insurgency happen before the first terrorist attack happen there? Mar 8 at 19:59
  • Similarly for Israel there weren't any attacks prior to October 7th, AFAIK? So the current wave of predictions of threat to tourists in Israel failed to materialize as none have been harmed after October 7th (AFAIK). Mar 8 at 20:00
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    Again, it's not a weather report. If intelligence agency knows about a threat - they'll issue a warning, but will also work on mitigation. The first example I think is what you're looking for - a targeted warning for a specific event, and the mitigation became public (which is rare)
    – littleadv
    Mar 8 at 20:13
  • Upvoted now, I wasn't the downvoter. Mar 8 at 21:01

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