Tuesday, August 20, 2013

20-Aug-13: Planning to travel? One or two (dozen) places not to even think of going

Though warnings of this sort tend to get pooh-poohed in some quarters, we think it's important to record here what the Israeli public was formally told yesterday about current and immediate dangers confronting us in "coming weeks".

The warning comes from a professional, and essentially non-political, government body: the Counter-Terrorism Bureau (CTB), part of the National security Council that is, in turn, a part of the multi-dimensional Prime Minister's Office. Its website defines the mission of the CTB as a peak-level coordinating and organizational body among all the various other bodies active in the counter-terrorism field.

The Monday announcement speaks of “concrete” indications of upcoming terrorism. Geographically, it first addresses these places, ascribing the highest level of danger to them (listed here alphabeticallly within each group):
  • Bahrain
  • Egypt
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Qatar (citing a “basic” terrorist threat)
  • Sinai Peninsula ("because of the chaotic situation in Egypt", and because of “information on the intention to carry out further attacks”)
  • United Arab Emirates, meaning Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain
At the next level going down, CTB tells Israelis to postpone nonessential visits (because of “ongoing potential threats”) to 
  • Morocco
  • Oman
  • Turkey
CTB reconfirmed the Israeli ban on Israelis going to these states where the “concrete” terror threat is “very high
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Lebanon
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Yemen
The following are characterized by “very high” terror threats; Israelis are told not to go there, and if already there, then to immediately leave:
  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Chechnya
  • Djibouti
  • India’s Kashmir province
  • Libya
  • Mauritania
  • Parts of Kenya
  • Northern Nigeria
  • Parts of the southern Philippines
  • East Senegal
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Parts of southern Thailand
  • Tunisia (where there are “threats to carry out attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets”)
After the "very high" threats comes the merely "high":
  • Burkina-Faso
  • Indonesia
  • Ivory Coast
  • Malaysia
  • Mali
  • Pakistan
  • Togo
Still feeling the travel urge? The CTB says Israelis traveling overseas must
take extra precautions, such as avoiding unexpected meetings or out of the way places, and to change regular travel routes.
Why now? According to Times of Israel, the CTB cites
concerns about terrorist acts timed to coincide with the forthcoming Rosh Hashana (New Year), Yom Kippur and Succot festivals, and also said that the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US was likely to be “a favored period” for al-Qaeda and other global jihadist groups to attempt to carry out acts of terrorism. Iran and Hezbollah, it warned, were continuing their “global terror campaign” against Israeli and Jewish targets. It noted that Iran remained bent on avenging alleged Israeli responsibility for the killing of Hezbollah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh in a Damascus car-bombing in 2008, and the deaths of three Iranian nuclear scientists. It said its information indicated that Israeli businessmen and ex-government officials were prime potential targets for assassination and/or kidnapping.

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