This week, UK news outlets (The Sun, The Star) reported that the Ministry of Defence had issued service personnel with a memorandum, warning servicemen and women abroad may be at risk of terror attack.
The newspapers cited MI5 and MI6 as saying that jihadists could “target hotel locations to kill, injure or take hostage” people on the Costas and other holiday hotspots. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated travel advice for UK holidaymakers heading to destinations which may be affected, although there are no specific warnings in place. The media state that Spain, Turkey, Greece, Tenerife and North African countries such as Morocco and Tunisia are at risk.
The FCO states:
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Spain. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners. The Spanish authorities take measures to protect visitors, but you should be vigilant and follow the instructions of the local authorities.
On 17/18 August 2017, there were 2 terrorist-related incidents where vehicles were driven directly at pedestrians, resulting in injuries and loss of life. These were in the Las Ramblas area of Barcelona and Cambrils, near Salou (100km southwest of Barcelona).
The Basque terrorist organisation ETA’s last major attack was in 2006 and it hasn’t mounted any attacks since 2009. In May 2018 it announced it was “disbanding”. British nationals have not been a target of ETA terrorism.
Spanish police have disrupted a number of groups suspected of recruiting individuals to travel to Syria and Iraq from 2015 to the present date. Some of them expressed an intention to carry out attacks in Europe.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
MAST can offer bespoke travel security reports and assessments if required. Feel free to contact us for details.
Traveling is an Adventure that Requires Extra Attention to the Risks.
While tourist hotspots come with certain pitfalls – pickpockets, bag snatchers, conmen and even terrorism – the more remote places have their own dangers – bad roads, poor policing, limited medical care. That doesn’t mean you should give them a miss – my advice is ‘be risk aware, not risk adverse.’ In other words, as part of your preparation do what the military call “the estimate”. Always think through personal safety and security issues, especially if you are going to go off the beaten track.
Make an assessment of where the hot spots for criminality are and the most likely types of crime and target. Find out as much as you can about local police forces and how they behave toward travellers who are in trouble. Are they part of the solution, or part of the problem. Ask yourself, where is the embassy or consulate. How can you get in touch with them should you have a problem. Most travellers think about disease risk – malaria, yellow fewer – and take preventative steps. But if you are heading somewhere where medical care is hard to come by, maybe a more robust medical kit is needed. Carrying your own antibiotics, painkillers, needles, and syringes limit the risk and can be real lifesavers.
Be aware of your surroundings. Always check the routes out of your hotel room. Check where the fire escape is and that the door and route are actually open! Be watchful in large crowds and protect your possessions. Think through what you will do in the event of a confrontation and where you will meet people if something separates you.
Don’t let these things hold you back from seeing the world. Be bold…just be prepared! – Gerry Northwood from Mast Security.