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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Doha schools step up security following US safety alert for region (update 2)

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Updated at 10:45am to include information from Northwestern University in Qatar. Updated at 3:45pm to include information from Doha College and Doha English Speaking School.

Several Qatar-based schools are beefing up their security measures following an alert from the US Embassy in Doha about potential attacks against teachers in the Middle East.

Citing an anonymous posting on an extremist website, the US Embassy has asked American teachers and those working in western schools to “remain vigilant” against a potential attack.

The alert comes days after Saudi Arabia said it sentenced 27 people to jail time for plotting an attack on members of the US armed forces based here and in Kuwait.

In a statement, the US embassy said that the threatening post specifically referenced the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and a neighborhood in Egypt (Maadi) that has an American school as “examples of locations with high concentrations of potential targets.”

It continued:

“The Embassy is unaware of any specific, credible threat against any American or western school or individuals in Qatar. The Embassy works closely with the Government of Qatar to promote the security of U.S. citizens…

Nonetheless, all US citizens should remain vigilant regarding their personal security and alert to local security developments.”

The statement also reiterated precautions the embassy usually advises its citizens to take, including avoiding large gatherings, identifying safe areas such as hospitals and police stations and pre-programming emergency numbers into cell phones.

In response, the embassy-sponsored American School of Doha (ASD) told community members that it is taking steps to enhance security on campus and in ASD faculty housing, and asked parents to prominently display their IDs while on campus.

In statement to Doha News, a school spokesperson said:

“ASD does not publish its security protocols however we have strengthened our security posture in response to the information released by the US Embassy.”

school

Doha College, meanwhile, said in a letter to parents that it was increasing the number of guards at its campus and taking other unspecified measures. The school added that it does not perceive itself to be in danger and reiterated the US embassy’s statement that there has been no specific threat to Qatar or its residents.

New security measures are also planned at the Doha English Speaking School (DESS), which told parents that it will equip its security guards with metal detectors. They will also ask to search bags on occasion and may deny guests entry to the school in “exceptional circumstances.”

“None of this is intended to be intrusive – we just want to put safety first and foremost, especially for the children,” DESS business manager Neil Macfarlane wrote in a letter to parents.

Education City

In Education City, the dean of Northwestern University in Qatar (NUQ) sent an email to students and faculty this morning saying it takes the warning from the US embassy “seriously.”

“No credible threat has been identified, but there is cause for vigilance for all of us here, regardless of our nationality or country of origin,” dean Everette Dennis wrote.

In response to the warning, a meeting has been scheduled this afternoon between US deans in Education City and the American embassy to review security conditions on campus as well as in residences for student, staff and faculty.

The school advised individuals to remain aware of their surroundings, especially when they are outside Education City or their homes. Additionally, NUQ recommends students carry a cell phone with them at all times, and leave it on – something that’s already a requirement for faculty and staff.

ISIL alert

Neither the UK or Canada have issued new alerts in the past few days about threats on its nationals. But when offering advice for citizens traveling abroad, both say that westerners are always at some risk in this part of the world.

Previously, the UK said attacks on nationals in Qatar are “unlikely,” but noted that “terrorists continue to issue statements threatening to carry out attacks in the Gulf region.”

In the same vein, on Oct. 10, the US State Department issued a worldwide alert expressing concern about the threat posted by ISIL, which had called on supporters to attack foreigners following the US-led military action against the group in Iraq.

Qatar played a role in that coalition by reportedly providing surveillance as other Arab nations bombed ISIL targets.

In the worldwide alert, the state department said:

“Authorities believe there is an increased likelihood of reprisal attacks against U.S., Western and coalition partner interests throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia.”

It added that potential targets could include schools, restaurants, malls and other places where Americans gather.

However, speaking to Doha News this morning, a US Embassy spokesperson would not comment on whether the new threat was made by an ISIL-related group.

Thoughts?

20 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Lets face it most terrorists are pretty useless at killing western targets. The only terrorist bombing I remember in Qatar killed only one person and that was by accident. (He killed himself in the process as well). Attacks in the west are pretty rare now as most Islamic terrorists find it hard to operate and many plots are foiled before they even start. In Qatar with the state being so small and being watched all the time attacks here are quite difficult. Probably the only person who could get close would be a Qatari.
Most terrorists these days are only good at killing fellow Muslims as we see the massacers on a daily basis in this region. How very sad to kill in the name of religion.

Mo TheMayor
Mo TheMayor
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

MIMH , what do you mean by ” Probably the only person who could get close would be a Qatari”??

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Mo TheMayor

Expats are more closely monitor and treated with suspicion by security. I’m not saying a Qatari would commit a horrendous act but they are more likely to be able to get close to senstive targets to carry out such an attack. Expat security guards generally are wary of them and Qatari ones would probably be more relaxed around them.

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago

I would guess that it is still a great deal safer to go to an American school or college in Qatar than one in the US. At least they can take steps to keep the gun carrying bad guys at bay here unlike in the US.
I feel safer here than in London.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  outdoorsboys

What steps can they take? If they can not stop someone undertaking, I’m tipping it is more good luck then management that nothing has happened…or perhaps good financing of the right groups.

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
6 years ago

DN, let’s not stoke the fires of fear please………. you clearly quote “The Embassy is unaware of any specific, credible threat against any American or western school or individuals in Qatar. “The US embassy said that the threatening post specifically referenced the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and a neighborhood in Egypt (Maadi) (ie. Nothing to do with Qatar) and the Embassy works closely with the Government of Qatar to promote the security of U.S. citizens”…

HOWEVER, then your article relates In response to the “Warning”, a meeting has been scheduled between US deans in Education City and the American embassy to review security conditions on campus as well as in residences for student, staff and faculty.

I do think that it is important to keep readers updated and security conscious, however it’s unnecessary to imply otherwise a concern above and beyond normal safety that EVERY expat (including Americans) living abroad should maintain, just for the sake of a news article.

Shabina921
Shabina921
6 years ago
Reply to  SokhnaFan2010

Not sure how we’re stoking anything by pointing out that people are reacting to a message from the US embassy.

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Shabina921

Let’s face it you are more likley to die by American bombing in the Middle East than you are by a terrorist attack.

SokhnaFan2010
SokhnaFan2010
6 years ago
Reply to  Shabina921

It’s the manner in which your paper has written it, but I guess you missed the point and therefore absolve yourselves of any responsibility for what you post. People believe generally what they read, in all the article, nowhere is there a threat in Qatar, so why build a non-story around it causing parents unnecessary worry.

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
6 years ago

It also states U.S. and other western schools. Why the need to focus only on the American school? I bet the British schools are also bumping up security just as much.

Shabina921
Shabina921
6 years ago

We could not confirm that, based on what we’ve seen at British schools today and phone calls placed to the schools.

–Disregard this, we’ve just edited the post after receiving new notices sent to some British schools this afternoon —

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago

Ummm it was the AMERICAN embassy who issued the alert.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

You are in more danger of being hit by a car around a western school then anything else.

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago

What I really don’t understand is why? Why all this senseless violence? Why threaten to kill innocent people? If you have a problem with a country’s politics, or whatever it is you have a problem with, then talk about it, argue, don’t kill! I mean even if their is such a low chance of this happening, why make such a disgusting threat in the first place?

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

You would think that God would join the #notinmyname hastag on twitter against all this violence in his name but he has remained strangley silent.

Bursin
Bursin
6 years ago

As if the US doesn’t do enough fear mongeringon it’s home turf, they have the cheek to bring it here???

The chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are lower than catching Ebola! Oh wait… American media reports u should be afraid of that too. Screw being afraid.

Additionally what help will campus security guards, who are paid peanuts and have minimal security training or means to stop a bad guy should he so wish to hold a school to ransom, do in the case of such an event. If I was them I wouldn’t be risking my life for $100 a month.

Time and money wasted at the whim of US intelligence report. Since when was intelligence gathering believing what internet trolls post on random websites?

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  Bursin

You really have no idea what you’re talking about.

Mo TheMayor
Mo TheMayor
6 years ago

“The Embassy is unaware of any specific(??), credible threat against any American or western school or individuals in Qatar(!!). The Embassy works closely with the Government of Qatar to promote the security of U.S. citizens…(How about the other people??)
Nonetheless, all US citizens (only US?) should remain vigilant regarding their personal security and alert to local security developments.

Mo TheMayor
Mo TheMayor
6 years ago

my kids go to western schools (French and Canadians) and an tell Doha news said that no one even( at less me ) thought of it .

Abdulrahman
Abdulrahman
6 years ago

Just a thought 😉

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