Hizbullah, Other Terrorists Targeting Traveling Israelis
The Counter-Terrorism Bureau of the National Security Council (NSC) issued its biannual travel advisories this week. Among the NSC's list of alerts are warnings that Hizbullah is intending to take hostages from among Israelis abroad.
The most dangerous countries for Israelis currently are Jordan, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia. Israeli intelligence reports "very concrete and severe" warnings in those nations and Israelis are called upon to avoid all travel there. Those Israelis already in those states are instructed to leave without delay.
Israeli intelligence has "very concrete and severe" warnings.
In particular, the counter-terrorism officials noted that the Sinai peninsula, as well as Egypt in general, is a very high-risk travel destination for Israelis. In recent years, there have been several attacks on Sinai resort destinations favored by Israeli tourists. The culprits in several dramatic attacks in 2004 were identified by Egypt as terrorists affiliated with the international Al-Qaeda network.
Agents of the Lebanese Hizbullah terrorist organization are also working to kidnap Israelis traveling abroad in the coming months, according to the NSC's report. Counter-terror officials warned travelers against accepting any attractive or unexpected offers, saying that terrorists may employ generous gifts or free excursions as bait for their kidnapping targets. In addition, the Counter-Terrorism Bureau warns against attending any last-minute meetings unaccompanied by at least one third party.
Other regions that were singled out as a "very high concrete risk" for travel by Israelis were the Kashmir region of India, the Mindanou Islands in the south Philippines, Chechnya in southern Russia, as well as the states of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The NSC also noted a "high risk" of terrorism in southern Thailand, between Thammarat and Krabi to the Malaysian border. In Bangkok specifically, officials emphasized an "ongoing potential risk" for Kwasan Street and environs, where many Israeli tourists tend to congregate.
Lower level terrorist threats were identified in Kenya, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Morocco. General alertness and caution was recommended for Israeli travelers in the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
The official travel advisories are released at this time of year in order to alert the many Israelis who travel abroad during the coming months, which include the last third of the season's school vacation and the start of a series of national holidays (Rosh HaShanah through Sukkot). The NSC travel advisories are also released ahead of the Passover travel season in the spring.
The National Security Council is a division of the Office of the Prime Minister and reports to him directly.