U.S. travel alert leave may be too vague, experts say

by Kelly MacNeil on October 4, 2010

After reports surfaced about the possibility of a terrorist attack at tourist attractions across Europe last week, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory on Sunday, urging Americans in Europe to be vigilant of suspicious activity. While the warning is one step below officially advising against travelling in Europe altogether, The Daily Mail reports that it suggests to United States citizens that they be more aware of their surroundings.

“Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests,” the advisory states. “U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.”

Despite the warning, many are unhappy that the wording is overly vague and offers little in terms of specific details about the suspected plot. The statement is being compared by some to the color-coded warnings that were used during the Bush administration, which was often criticized for being too ambiguous. Experts say that lack of details in the alert made it of very little use.

“This one is an entire continent. I’m not sure what it says, beyond the fact that the world’s a dangerous place, and we already knew that,” Bruce Hoffman, a terrorist expert at Georgetown University, told the publication.

In addition to being too general, others are concerned that it may hurt Europe’s usually robust tourism industry. Although industry insider George Hobica told the news source that it may not have a big impact, those looking for a reason not to travel have been given one.

On Monday, Japan joined the United States and issued a similar warning to Japanese tourists abroad in Europe. The concern is a response to officials learning of a plan by al-Qaeda to carry out a commando-style attack using guns and explosives, similar to the one that killed 175 people in Mumbai, India in 2008.

Previous post:

Next post: