Political Violence Against Americans 2016
The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the law enforcement and security arm of the U.S. Department of State, providing a secure environment for the conduct of American diplomacy.
To advance American interests and U.S. foreign policy, Diplomatic Security (DS) protects people, property, and information at more than 280 State Department posts worldwide. As a leader in international investigations, threat analysis, cyber security, counterterrorism, dignitary protection, and security technology, DS is the most widely represented U.S. security and law enforcement organization in the world.
Political Violence Against Americans is produced by the Bureau’s Directorate of Threat Investigations and Analysis. Created in May 2008, the Directorate of Threat Investigations and Analysis strives to improve DS's ability to detect and counter threats, and to upgrade the Bureau’s capacity to rapidly disseminate threat and security information to U.S. embassies, consulates, and the private sector.
Since its inception in 1987, the goal of Political Violence Against Americans has been to provide the reader with an awareness of the hazards facing U.S. interests abroad by chronicling incidents of terrorism and political violence impacting U.S. citizens and facilities overseas. This publication is not an all-inclusive compendium of acts targeting U.S. interests, but rather a sampling of events involving private Americans and U.S. Government personnel (including locally hired foreign nationals serving at U.S. diplomatic missions), as well as U.S. diplomatic and private sector installations. Whenever possible, the goals and ideologies of those responsible have been included; however, in some cases, incidents have been included despite a lack of clarity as to the motive or direct target, due to the clear intent to cause harm. In addition, some incidents may have been omitted due to their sensitive nature, as have the names of American citizens for privacy purposes.
A Special Note Regarding Conflict Zones
As in previous editions of Political Violence Against Americans, this report includes incidents of violence involving U.S. citizens and facilities with the exception of incidents against American military personnel serving in combat zones.
Additionally, instances of rocket and mortar attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities are included only when they resulted in casualties or property damage. Active conflict zones involve special circumstances. Given the complex security context within these countries, it is understandably difficult to obtain detailed, reliable information on every incident involving U.S. citizens. Moreover, it is often virtually impossible to distinguish acts of targeted political violence and terrorism from general conflict-zone hazards. The criteria established above provide a certain practical, albeit imperfect, standard for determining those assaults most relevant to this report.
Number of Incidents by Region/Country
67 Total Incidents in 2016
Near East Asia – 19
South and Central Asia – 17
Europe – 13
Sub-Saharan Africa – 9
East Asia and the Pacific – 5
Western Hemisphere – 4
January 1, 2016 – Tel Aviv, Israel:
An Arab-Israeli man opened fire on patrons at a crowded café and bar in the Dizengoff shopping district. Two Israelis were killed and eight injured, including two U.S.-Israeli dual nationals.
January 4, 2016 – Kabul, Afghanistan:
A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated between Camp Sullivan and Camp Camelot, causing extensive structural damage to nearby buildings. Final casualty counts remain unclear; however, available reporting indicates at least three people were killed and 60 U.S. Embassy contractors injured, 11 of whom were U.S. citizens. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
January 11, 2016 – Tangier, Morocco:
A man broke a small sign situated on the wall of the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies. He also punched a sign warning of the building’s security camera before running away.
January 15-16, 2016 – Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso:
At least three gunmen affiliated with al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb attacked the Cappuccino restaurant and Splendid Hotel, killing 30 people, including a U.S. citizen missionary, and injuring more than 56 others, including another U.S. citizen.
January 16, 2016 – Baghdad, Iraq:
Unidentified militia members kidnapped three American contractors in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad. The motive for the kidnapping remains unknown. The three U.S. citizens were subsequently freed.
January 25, 2016 – Sana’a, Yemen:
Two men on a motorcycle fired several shots at Yemeni security forces protecting the U.S. Embassy. No one was injured in the attack, and the motive for the incident is unclear.
January 30, 2016 – Jerusalem:
A Palestinian stabbed and injured a U.S.-Israeli dual national near the Damascus Gate of the Old City.
February 6, 2016 – Port au Prince, Haiti:
A group of armed men fired at a vehicle carrying five U.S. Embassy personnel during a period of ongoing political unrest. None of the passengers were injured, though the vehicle sustained minor damage.
February 17, 2016 – Ankara, Turkey:
A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device targeting three Turkish military shuttle buses killed 28 people and injured 61 others. The explosion shattered several windows at the nearby U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) and slightly injured one American ODC member.
February 18, 2016 – West Bank:
Two Palestinians stabbed two men, one of whom was a U.S.-Israeli dual national, while in a supermarket. The U.S. citizen subsequently died from his wounds.
February 20, 2016 – Hong Kong, China:
A Chinese citizen struck the main entry doors of the U.S. Consulate General with a brick, causing minor damage, and was detained by local police. The individual claimed he wanted to join the U.S. military.
March 1, 2016 – Mohmand Agency, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Pakistan:
Two U.S. Consulate General Peshawar locally employed staff members were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated next to the convoy in which they were traveling. Jamaat ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack.
March 4, 2016 – West Bank:
A Palestinian attempted to drive a vehicle over a group of Israeli soldiers guarding the Gush Etzion Junction and slightly injured a U.S.-Israeli dual national serving in the Israel Defense Forces.
March 8, 2016 – Tel Aviv/Jaffa, Israel:
A Palestinian stabbed 11 pedestrians and motorists along a popular beach promenade, killing a U.S. citizen and injuring another. Nine other non-U.S. citizens were injured.
March 11, 2016 – Jerusalem:
A Palestinian wounded a U.S.-Israeli dual national in a stabbing attack in the Old City.
March 19, 2016 – Istanbul, Turkey:
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives on Istiklal Avenue, a busy pedestrian street lined with shops and restaurants frequented by tourists. The attack killed four people, including two U.S.-Israeli dual nationals, and injured 36 others. Turkish officials implicated the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) in the attack.
March 22, 2016 – Brussels, Belgium:
Terrorists detonated two suitcase bombs at the Brussels Airport, and a suicide bomber detonated his explosives on a train between the Maelbeek and Arts Loi metro stations. The attacks killed 32 people, including four U.S. citizens, and injured 270 others, including 17 U.S. citizens. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.
March 29, 2016 – Cairo, Egypt:
A passenger claiming to be in possession of an explosive belt hijacked EgyptAir Flight 181 and diverted it to Larnaca Airport in Cyprus. The incident was resolved when the hijacker ultimately surrendered to Cypriot authorities, who determined he did not have explosives on the aircraft. Of the 56 passengers on the flight, eight were U.S. citizens; no passengers were injured in the incident.
April 16, 2016 – Adana, Turkey:
Two Turkish nationals were arrested after attempting to put a hood over the head of a U.S. airman on Incirlik Airbase. The airman, who indicated he was a U.S. military member when asked by the assailants, received several blows to the head in the ensuing altercation. The Turkish nationals claimed their action was in retaliation for a 2003 incident involving the U.S. capture of Turkish troops in Iraq.
April 25, 2016 – Dhaka, Bangladesh:
A United States Agency for International Development locally employed staff member and another man were killed by five men who gained access to their residence by posing as package deliverymen. A group affiliated with al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent claimed responsibility for the incident.
April 29, 2016 – Sana’a, Yemen:
Houthi rebels released one of two U.S. citizen contractors detained on October 20, 2015. The other victim died on November 6, 2015, while in captivity.
May 2, 2016 – Kabul, Afghanistan:
Three individuals, including a U.S. citizen, affiliated with an international aid organization escaped an attempted kidnapping while driving home from a restaurant. When confronted by armed men using a vehicle to block the road, the driver of the individuals’ vehicle proceeded to a nearby security checkpoint, thus deterring the would-be kidnappers.
June 5, 2016 – Helmand Province, Afghanistan:
Taliban fighters killed a U.S. citizen journalist embedded with Afghan Special Forces when his five-car convoy was ambushed between Lashkar Gah and the Marjah District Center.
June 24, 2016 – Port au Prince, Haiti:
Six men on motorcycles opened fire on the Marriott Hotel. Several rounds impacted rooms occupied by U.S. citizens, including one occupied by a U.S. Embassy employee. No one was injured in the attack.
June 29, 2016 – Karachi, Pakistan:
A U.S. Embassy locally employed staff member was temporarily detained and assaulted by unidentified assailants. The staff member, who sustained minor injuries, was able to flee when the group was approached by a local police vehicle.
June 30, 2016 – Hebron, West Bank:
A Palestinian stabbed and killed a 13-year-old U.S.-Israeli dual national in her home in the settlement of Kiryat Arba.
July 1, 2016 – Dhaka, Bangladesh:
Five gunmen seized hostages at the Holey Artisan Bakery in the Gulshan-2 Diplomatic Enclave, ultimately killing 20 people, including one U.S. citizen. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
July 1, 2016 – Hebron, West Bank:
A Palestinian conducted a drive-by shooting of a vehicle carrying an Israeli family, killing the father and severely injuring his wife, who is a U.S.-Israeli dual national. The two children in the vehicle were also injured.
July 4, 2016 – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in the parking lot of a hospital across the street from the U.S. Consulate General, injuring one member of the Saudi Diplomatic Police. No U.S. personnel were injured in the incident, and no Consulate facilities were damaged.
July 7, 2016 – Juba, South Sudan:
Sudan People’s Liberation Army soldiers attempted to stop two U.S. Embassy vehicles at a checkpoint and opened fire on them when the passengers refused to open their doors. The vehicles were damaged by bullets, and one vehicle was disabled following a collision with another car while leaving the area. No personnel were injured.
July 9, 2016 – Kabul, Afghanistan:
Pieces of a 107 mm rocket struck a building and a housing unit at Bagram Airfield, injuring one U.S. civilian contractor.
July 11, 2016 – Juba, South Sudan:
Sudan People’s Liberation Army soldiers attacked, raped, and tortured civilians and foreign aid workers, including U.S. citizens, at the Terrain Hotel. In addition to other reform measures, the U.N. Secretary-General fired the Force Commander of the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan after an investigation uncovered that U.N. troops did not respond effectively to the violence that lasted for three days, including failure by U.N. troops stationed nearby the Terrain Hotel to intervene despite repeated calls for assistance.
July 14, 2016 – Shanghai, China:
A Chinese citizen threw bottles at a guard at the U.S. Consulate General and threatened to kill him. Local police took the individual into custody; no one was injured in the incident.
July 14, 2016 – Nice, France:
A Tunisian national with French residency drove a large truck through a pedestrian promenade during a Bastille Day celebration. Eighty-six people were killed, including three U.S. citizens, and 303 others were injured, some of whom were U.S. citizens.
July 23, 2016 – Kabul, Afghanistan:
A U.S. Embassy locally employed staff member was injured when a suicide bomber targeted a public protest.
July 27, 2016 – Qamishli, Syria:
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle against Kurdish security forces near the Turkish border, killing 48 people and injuring approximately 171 others, including a Voice of America Kurdish Service reporter. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.
July 31, 2016 – Mogadishu, Somalia:
Al-Shabaab militants conducted a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attack against the Somali Police Force Criminal Investigation Division compound immediately after U.S.-based private-sector security contractors entered it. At least 10 people were killed, including four militants, five civilians, and a soldier. It is unclear whether the contractors of the U.S.-based company were the direct target of the attack.
August 4, 2016 – Herat Province, Afghanistan:
Taliban militants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a two-vehicle convoy carrying foreign tourists, injuring six passengers, two of whom were U.S. citizens.
August 7, 2016 – Kabul, Afghanistan:
Unknown individuals kidnapped a U.S. citizen and an Australian citizen near the American University of Afghanistan. The victims, American University employees, remain in captivity.
September 12, 2016 – Kabul, Afghanistan:
A projectile, believed to be a 107 mm rocket, struck an apartment building on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy, causing minor damage. The building was under construction and unoccupied at the time; there were no reported injuries.
September 20, 2016 – Sana’a, Yemen:
Two U.S. citizens, one of whom is an English teacher, were detained by unidentified individuals in separate incidents. No group claimed responsibility for the incidents, though reports indicate the perpetrators were Houthis. Both Americans were released October 15, 2016.
September 30, 2016 – Kyiv, Ukraine:
Two women illegally attempting to enter the U.S. Embassy’s vehicle entrance assaulted an Embassy guard when he attempted to stop them from impeding the exit of an Embassy vehicle. One of the women later assaulted an assistant regional security officer (ARSO) when the ARSO restrained her as she attempted to enter the Embassy’s main entrance.
October 3, 2016 – Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina:
Protesters threw bottles and other objects at a U.S. Embassy vehicle carrying election monitors. No one was injured in the incident, and the vehicle safely left the area of the demonstration.
October 4, 2016 – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:
Two unidentified individuals threw stones at a convoy of nongovernmental organization vehicles, striking and killing a U.S. citizen passenger. The motive remains unknown.
October 6, 2016 – Kuwait City, Kuwait:
An Egyptian national rammed his vehicle into a vehicle occupied by three U.S. military members in an apparent attempt to harm or kill them. The individual was detained by local authorities and confessed his allegiance to ISIS and his desire to target Americans.
October 14, 2016 – Abalak, Niger:
A U.S. citizen missionary who worked for a nongovernmental organization was kidnapped in the town of Abalak. The kidnappers’ vehicle was last seen traveling toward the Mali border; no group has claimed responsibility.
October 19, 2016 – Manila, Philippines:
Protesters outside the U.S. Embassy clashed with police and defaced the Embassy seal with red paint. Police attempted to disperse the crowd using batons and tear gas, but ultimately drove through the protest with a police truck. Four police officers and up to 10 protesters were injured.
October 19, 2016 – Kabul, Afghanistan:
A gunman wearing an Afghan National Army uniform killed two U.S. military advisers and injured three other U.S. citizens when he opened fire at the entry gate of Camp Morehead, an Afghan military ammunition supply depot and training site for Afghan commandos.
October 24, 2016 – Buenos Aires, Argentina:
A U.S. citizen threw a small incendiary device over the perimeter fence of the U.S. Embassy. The object did minor damage to Embassy facilities, but no one was injured. The same individual threw a similar device over the perimeter wall in April 2015.
October 25, 2016 – Moscow, Russia:
Demonstrators gathered at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence to protest against the U.S. military presence in Europe. Ten protesters launched fireworks and dropped leaflets, while one individual handcuffed himself to the gate and had to be freed with bolt cutters. Local police detained three individuals in conjunction with the incident, which they believe was an attempt by the group to gain national attention.
October 27, 2016 – Nairobi, Kenya:
An individual armed with a knife and yelling “Allahu Akbar” attacked a Kenyan General Services Unit police officer stationed on the perimeter of the U.S. Embassy. The officer shot and killed the assailant.
October 29, 2016 – Karachi, Pakistan:
A U.S.-Pakistani dual national was shot and killed along with two of his brothers at the home of a relative. A faction of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an extremist Sunni group that targets the minority Shiite population and sometimes coordinates with ISIS-Khorasan, claimed responsibility for the attack.
November 4, 2016 – Al Jafr, Jordan:
Three U.S. citizen military trainers were killed by small-arms fire when a Jordanian guard targeted their vehicle at the entry to Prince Faisal Air Base. The motive behind the incident remains unclear. The attack is still under investigation.
November 5, 2016 – Amsterdam, Netherlands:
During a “flash” demonstration outside the U.S. Consulate General, “Anonymous Masks” members spray-painted a Consular bulletin board and the facility’s windows.
November 7, 2016 – Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic:
Two university students scuffled with local police when asked to move away from the U.S. Embassy during a protest over the U.S. Ambassador’s support of same-sex marriage. One protester attempted to strike a police officer with a large wooden cross and was subsequently arrested.
November 11, 2016 – Bagram, Afghanistan:
A Taliban suicide bombing at Bagram Airfield killed two U.S. soldiers and two U.S. citizen-civilian contractors, and wounded 16 other U.S. service members and one Polish soldier. The bomber targeted a sports field where people were preparing to go for a run.
November 15, 2016 – Melbourne, Australia:
Four individuals protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline wrote on the entry doors, blocked the entrance, and poured an unidentified substance resembling cooking oil in the public lobby of the commercial building housing the U.S. Consulate General.
November 16, 2016 – Kabul, Afghanistan:
A suicide bomber detonated near an Afghan National Police vehicle, killing four Afghan security forces personnel and wounding 11 Afghan civilians. A U.S. Embassy locally employed staff member in the vicinity of the blast was also injured.
November 18, 2016 – Strasbourg, France:
An unidentified individual spray-painted the pillars connecting the gates of the U.S. Consulate General with anti-U.S. graffiti and an anarchy symbol. Based on a review of the slogans used, the perpetrator was likely a member of the leftist anarchist movement in France.
November 28, 2016 – Manila, Philippines:
Philippine National Police rendered safe an improvised explosive device found in a trash can approximately 250 meters from the U.S. Embassy. The intentions and motivations of the perpetrators remain unclear.
November 30, 2016 – N’Djamena, Chad:
A man armed with a pistol and shouting “Allahu Akbar” opened fire at the local police guard stationed outside the U.S. Embassy’s main entrance. The police took the shooter into custody. No one was injured during the incident.
December 2, 2016 – Yaoundé, Cameroon:
An individual brandishing a knife and claiming to be an Islamic State soldier approached the U.S. Embassy and asked to speak with the ambassador. Local gendarmes subdued the individual after he rushed toward them.
December 19, 2016 – Berlin, Germany:
A Tunisian national drove a truck through a Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz, killing 12 people and injuring 56 others, two of whom were U.S. citizens. Four days later, Italian police in Milan shot and killed the attacker, who had allegedly vowed loyalty to ISIS. The terrorist group claimed the attack was conducted by a “soldier of the Islamic State” responding to its call to target citizens of countries belonging to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS.
December 19, 2016 – Ankara, Turkey:
An individual fired one shotgun round at the U.S. Embassy’s vehicle gate and then fired multiple shots into the air before being arrested by Turkish National Police. No U.S. Embassy personnel were injured in the incident, though the vehicle gate sustained minor damage. The incident occurred hours after the Russian Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an arts center across the street from the Embassy.
December 21, 2016 – Kabul, Afghanistan:
A 40 mm grenade exploded at Camp Duskin, a U.S. military camp, while a U.S. Embassy protective security team was conducting a site review in advance of a visit by the U.S. chargé d’affaires. No one was injured in the incident, and it is unclear whether the explosion was the result of a negligent discharge or a deliberate action.
December 24, 2016 – Sana’a, Yemen:
A Houthi-affiliated group detained a U.S. Embassy guard at a checkpoint in Taiz. There are conflicting reports as to the reason for the detention. The guard remains detained.
December 27, 2016 – Istanbul, Turkey:
Turkish National Police detained a U.S. citizen journalist for two and a half days. The charges pertaining to the detention remain unclear.
Historically, overseas environments have presented potential hazards to citizens and diplomats of the United States. As our nation’s diplomatic presence and its commercial tourist trade broadened considerably throughout the twentieth century, potential dangers and vulnerabilities increased as well. Over the past quarter-century in particular, the rise of international terrorism and criminal activity has contributed to a worldwide increase in incidents of violence against individuals, organizations, and facilities of the United States. In some cases, U.S. citizens have been victimized randomly; in other cases, assaults appear to have been intentional.
Political Violence Against Americans serves as a reminder that vigilance, preparation, and sensible discretion are valuable safeguards. Reasonable precautions can significantly minimize opportunities for those who would do harm to the people of the United States and its interests.
United States Department of State
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
Directorate of Threat Investigations and Analysis
Washington, D.C. 20522-2008
Released May 2017