Ready to explore the world? Great! Pack your bags and head for the airport!
For your traveling pleasure we have compiled the latest exciting travel tips provided by the United States State Department.
Get ready for adventure! Europe’s allure is endless. Credible information indicates terrorist groups such as ISIL/Da’esh, and al-Qa’ida and affiliates continue to plot attacks in Europe as foreign fighters return home from Syria and Iraq, while other individuals may be radicalized or inspired by ISIL propaganda. In the past year extremists have carried out attacks in;
- Germany and
Heading somewhere else, don’t worry. European authorities continue to warn of additional attacks on major events, tourist sites, restaurants, commercial centers, places of worship, and the transportation sector. All European countries remain vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations and U.S. citizens are urged to exercise vigilance while in public places.
The Ancient Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa!
The ancient traditions of violence are alive and well! Credible information indicates terrorist groups also continue to seek to attack U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. Private U.S. citizens should not travel to any country to participate in armed conflict. Wanna play soldier? Better put that AK47 down buster! Fighting on behalf of or providing other forms of support to designated terrorist organizations, can constitute the provision of material support for terrorism, which is a serious crime that can result in penalties including prison time and large fines.
Syria: Come back and enjoy our beaches!
Yes, famous for its beaches and ancient cities, Syria’s security situation has been described as dangerous and unpredictable as a civil war between government and armed anti-government groups continues throughout the country. Extremist groups including ISIL/Da’esh, and al-Qa’ida have kidnapped and killed Westerners in Syria.
Live, Love, Lebanon
Lebanon is famous for its exquisite beauty, diversity, glamor, European flavor, and hospitable people. Its rich culture and history have placed it on the “must see” list of every world traveler. U.S.-designated terrorist groups operating in Lebanon include Hizballah, ISIL/Da’esh, elements of al-Qa’ida in Syria, Hamas, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB). U.S. citizens have been the target of terrorist attacks in Lebanon, and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity remains high.
Iraq: Land of nature and history
Actually the slogan ‘Land of nature and history’ is from the Kurdistan Tourism Board, but that’s part of Iraq so no biggie. While democracy flourishes in Iraq and Kurdistan it seems another force, namely ISIL/Da’esh, controls significant territory in northern, western, and central Iraq, and continues to attack Iraqi security forces and civilians in those areas.
The “ELTJA” is a “thing”!
Ok, a thing like five countries; Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, and Algeria. Here groups affiliated with ISIL, al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and other terrorist groups have conducted attacks against both foreign and local targets. Please refer to each country’s respective tourism website for more trip planning guidance, and Interpol.
And ‘Y’ stands for ‘Yemen’, an unspoiled tourist destination
Tourism in Yemen is a promising sector, since Yemen is the cradle of civilizations and Yemen possesses a variety of varied tourist natural factors of history, ruins, the cultural heritage, and natural fundamentals that make it a tourist landmark. Here the level of instability and ongoing threats, including the threat of kidnapping, is severe. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIL/Da’esh remain threats to U.S. citizens there, and pretty much everyone else.
Out of Africa
Staying out might not be a bad idea for travelers who shy from excitement, but who can resist shooting an elephant, giraffe or lion? I know the Trumps can’t!
While in Africa on your hunting safari, remember that AQIM (BTW this is not Afrikaans for ‘ATM’), al-Murabitun, and ISIL/Da’esh are active in West Africa and the Sahel and have conducted attacks in Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. AQIM has also declared its intention to attack Western targets in the Sahel (Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad), and it has claimed responsibility for kidnapping and/or murdering several Westerners in the region. Why the Trumps remain at large remains a mystery. (Note to self: Find out if Patty Hearst is aware of the Trumps.)
Come to Nigeria, unless you are Kenyan
If you are not Kenyan, this is the place for you. Nigeria’s former aviation minister, Femi Fani-Kayode said it best by Tweeting as @realffk, “Truth is that the Kenyans are very far behind us in every respect. I know their history inside out: they are just too small for us.” In Nigeria, the extremist group Boko Haram/ISIL-West Africa has claimed responsibility for dozens of non-Twitter attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has carried out attacks in Cameroon’s Far North Region, western Chad, and southern Niger, targeting foreign expatriates, tourists, and government leaders, and continues to pose a threat to the region
Somalia, White Pearl of the Indian Ocean
Somalia has the biggest coast line in Africa with 3100km along the Indian Ocean which can be home to loveliest beaches for tourism. It is also home to the bad guy Al. Talk about a busy bad guy, Al-Shabaab has conducted assassinations, suicide bombings, hostage taking, and indiscriminate attacks in civilian-populated areas, and the commercial aviation sector. Al-Shabaab remains a threat to neighboring countries in the East Africa region. (Note: It turns out that Al Shabaab is not one guy, but more than one.)
Pearls before swine of the Orient
The Orient welcomes your arrival in the Year of the Monkey (that’s 2016).
Asia is so big (bigger than Texas even) that it gets subdivided into several parts. One part referred to as “South Asia” provides guests with several terrorist groups that may be planning attacks, possibly against U.S. facilities, citizens, and interests. The presence of al-Qa’ida, Taliban elements, including the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Da’esh; indigenous sectarian groups, and other terrorist organizations, pose a danger to U.S. citizens in the region.
Pakistan, final home of a very bad guy
Pakistan has a rich and unique culture that has preserved established traditions throughout history. In Pakistan, terrorist attacks have occurred against civilian, government, and foreign targets. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations and airports. Extremist groups have also targeted hotels and Western interests in Pakistan’s settled areas, including Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Quetta. Terrorists and criminal groups also have resorted to kidnapping for ransom.
Afghanistan, carpet capital of the world
When shopping for carpets and poppies, remember that no province in Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence and crime, and the strong possibility exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other foreign nationals at any time. Taliban and other extremist organizations remain active in every province of the country and frequently target both Afghan government and foreign interests, including for kidnapping.
The Bollywood bonanza draws a huge crowd whilst the country continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-Western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba. Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas.
Bangladesh; Life happens here!
Bangladesh has a rich and diverse culture which is reflected in the architecture, culture, literature, music, painting, clothing, and a series of increasingly sophisticated violent attacks. These include an attack against a restaurant in Dhaka’s diplomatic enclave that killed more than 20 people, including one U.S. citizen, as well as bombs and other attacks against gatherings of religious groups and security forces. ISIL publicly claimed credit for many of these attacks. Additionally, groups claiming to represent al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) asserted responsibility for a series of threats and terrorist attacks targeting writers, publishers, and others in the media, including the murder of a U.S. citizen blogger.
Heading towards “Central Asia” we find supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qa’ida, and the Islamic Jihad Union.These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government interests. Other extremists groups and lone wolf attackers remain a concern, as was the case on August 30, 2016, when an individual detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device at the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, approximately 400 meters from the U.S. Embassy.
Turn left and set your sights on “East Asia and the Pacific” where information from credible sources suggests that there is a continued risk of armed terrorist and criminal groups operating and planning attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, in the East Asian and Pacific region. Over the past year, many regional extremists have shown strong aspirations to join ISIL/Da’esh and pursue its goals. Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf Group have cells operating throughout Southeast Asia and JI is linked to al-Qa’ida and other regional terrorist groups.
It’s more fun in the Philippines
In the Philippines, both serious trekkers and lazy beach bums have a range of options. There is a risk of travel to the southern Philippines, specifically related to kidnapping threats in the Sulu Archipelago and the ongoing threat of violence on the island of Mindanao, particularly in Central Mindanao.
Malaysia truly Asia
There is only one place where all the colours, flavours, sounds and sights of Asia come together – Malaysia. Foreigners in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia are also targets for kidnappings for ransom. Criminal or terrorist bands may attempt to intercept boats ferrying tourists in the area as well. Malaysian authorities have confirmed links between ISIL/Da’esh and the June 28, 2016 explosion at a nightclub in the Puchong area of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Living on more than 13,400 islands, the Indonesian nation today counts some 200 million population comprising more than 200 ethnic groups. Here, extremists still have the ability to carry out small-scale violent attacks. U.S. citizens should avoid high-risk areas, be cautious of large crowds, and remain aware of their surroundings at popular tourist and holiday destinations, such as Bali and Lombok, and when visiting shopping malls, nightclubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, and places of worship.
Thailand is a kingdom of wonder, filled with spectacular natural, cultural, and historical attractions. Periodic acts of violence in Thailand remain a concern, such as the bombing near the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok in August 2015, and several small-scale bombings near tourist locations in southern provinces in August 2016.
Where ever you may be…
There is always something going on that can be entertaining, informative and great for photography enthusiasts. Extremists may use conventional or non-conventional weapons to target official government and private interests. Recent attacks indicate that extremists remain interested in attacking “soft” targets, such as:
• high-profile public events
• hotels, clubs, and restaurants
• places of worship
• shopping malls and markets
• tourism infrastructure
• public transportation systems
• events where Westerners gather in large numbers, including during holidays.
So get packed, see the world and have fun!
Photo Credit: Flickr Commons
Next Week: Sailing the Seven Seas!
U.S. citizens considering maritime travel also should review information at the websites of the National Geospatial Agency, the Maritime Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard for information related to maritime and port security globally. Current areas of concern include the Caribbean, Gulf of Guinea, Horn of Africa, and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore as a result of maritime crimes including smuggling, human trafficking, and piracy. In addition, merchant vessels and maritime interests operating in the waters of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden should be aware of the increased potential for maritime attacks in the vicinity of Bab-el-Mandeb Strait.
Thomas Timlen is a freelance writer, blogger, photographer, graphic artist and researcher based in Singapore. He blogs at The Inside Story.