An audio message purportedly released by the Islamic State (IS) on Monday, June 12, calls on members to carry out attacks on a specific group of countries during the remainder of the holy month of Ramadan, which ends on June 25. In the message - which has yet to be independently authenticated - a man whose voice reportedly matches that of IS spokesman Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer instructs members to carry out attacks in Iraq, Syria, Iran, the United States, Russia, Australia, the Philippines, and Europe.
Anticipate heightened security measures and remain vigilant.
In recent years, IS, as well as other groups, have called on their fighters to perpetrate attacks during the holy month of Ramadan, which the group has called a "holy month of jihad." So far during Ramadan in 2017, major attacks have been carried out in London, Baghdad, and Tehran, killing dozens.
In Iraq this year, a suicide bomber killed more than 20 people in a market near the Shi'a city of Kerbala on Friday, June 9. IS has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came ten days after a bombing in Baghdad killed more than 25 civilians. The Baghdad attack occurred as Iraqis were gathered en masse in the streets and restaurants of the city to break the daily Ramadan fast. During Ramadan 2016, Baghdad witnessed one of its deadliest-ever attacks, when an IS suicide bomber killed more than 300 people in the Karrada neighborhood.
Individuals in Iraq are advised to remain aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious behavior. It is advised not to eat, drink, or smoke in public throughout this period to avoid drawing undue attention to yourself. Travelers are also advised to allow additional time for travel and to avoid any form of public demonstration or public gathering.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Although travel is permissible in some areas, other areas should be considered strictly off limits. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.