The U.S. State Department has issued a travel alert "to caution U.S. citizens of the potential for anti-U.S. demonstrations in many countries in response to stated plans by a church in Florida to burn Qur'ans on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks."
At a briefing, the State Department said there were three countries that were of particular concern: Jordan, Algeria and Syria.
"Demonstrations, some violent, have already taken place in several countries, including Afghanistan and Indonesia, in response to media reports of the church's plans," the alert says. "The potential for further protests and demonstrations, some of which may turn violent, remains high. We urge you to pay attention to local reaction to the situation, and to avoid areas where demonstrations may take place."
The alert lasts through the end of September. It also notes that "U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert."
Following a protest of the planned book burning in Kabul Monday, General David Petraeus warned that "Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan - and around the world - to inflame public opinion and incite violence." The warning was echoed by numerous administration officials.
In other developments:
- White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said today that "there are discussions inside of the government" about reaching out to the pastor behind the planned Quran burning, Terry Jones. "This is a monumentally terrible idea," he added. Gibbs said he did not believe President Obama was part of the discussions.
- Pentagon Spokesman Jeff Morell said Defense Sectretary Robert Gates is part of the discussions over whether to call the pastor. Another source tells CBS News that the call would come from either the White House, State Department or the Pentagon.
- CBS News has confirmed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation visited Jones this morning.
- A member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that the local government of Gainesville, where Jones' church is based, has assured him that there will be no fire on Saturday. If a fire is lit, the CAIR representative said, it will be put out immediately.