Safety and Security
The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable. U.S. citizens traveling to or remaining in Libya should use caution and limit nonessential travel. While in Libya, make contingency emergency plans and maintain security awareness at all times.
Recent worldwide terrorism alerts, including the Department of State’s Worldwide Caution, have stated that extremist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East region, including Libya. Any U.S. citizen who travels to Libya should maintain a strong security posture by being aware of surroundings, avoiding crowds and demonstrations, keeping a low profile, and varying times and routes for all required travel.
Terrorist incidents have occurred recently in Libya. On September 11, 2012, a group attacked the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi resulting in the deaths of four U.S. government personnel, including the Ambassador. There have been several recent attacks on diplomatic embassies, offices and vehicles, as well as against Libyan government officials and private Libyan citizens, though many of these attacks have also been the result of criminality and lawlessness. Since the February 2011 revolution, thousands of anti-aircraft missiles are still unaccounted for in Libya and extremist groups may use them against aircraft, including commercial flights.
Various militias have supplanted the police in maintaining internal security. Militia members operate checkpoints within and between major cities. Libyan militia members are poorly trained and may be unaffiliated with the interim government, which has not yet fully reconstituted the national army and police. The Embassy receives frequent reports of clashes between rival militias and occasional reports of killings and vigilante revenge killings. Militia groups sometimes detain travelers for arbitrary or unclear reasons, without access to a lawyer or legal process. Carry proof of citizenship and valid immigration status at all times. The Embassy has extremely limited capacity to assist U.S. citizens who are detained by militia groups.
Public demonstrations occur frequently in Libya in the central squares of cities, such as Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli and Freedom Square in Benghazi. Exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Avoid all demonstrations and take cover if you hear celebratory gunfire.
If travel in desert and border regions of Libya is critically necessary, exercise caution and comply with local regulations. Terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, continue to threaten the region. Recent terrorist attacks have occurred in the border region, and extremists have kidnapped Westerners in the border regions.