A Low Profile Advised to Cope With Terrorists

Times Staff Writer

U.S. government agencies and businesses whose employees must travel overseas are receiving special, detailed instructions on what to do if they become victims of a hijacking or other terrorist actions.

The State Department now requires Foreign Service employees and their families to attend a seminar titled “Coping With Violence Abroad” as part of their preparation for overseas duty. Employees of the Agency for International Development and the U.S. Information Agency and their families also must take the course.

“We start with planning your route of travel,” Arnold H. Campbell, a member of the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute staff, said in a telephone interview. “If an airport has been declared unsafe, like Beirut, or even if you have personal information that it might be risky, we advise people to take another route.”

If they must go through a dangerous airport, Campbell says, he advises his students of the safest places to be inside an airplane. He said he could not disclose these locations “because terrorists would then know where to look for our people.”


“We emphasize keeping a low profile,” Campbell said.

Do’s and Don’ts Listed

Chase Manhattan Bank, which has branches in many of the high-risk areas of the world, recently issued wallet cards to its traveling employees listing 17 “do’s and don’ts” to observe in the event that they are involved in a hijacking. The instructions advise such passengers to:

--Be extremely courteous and polite to the terrorists.


--Talk in a normal tone of voice and avoid whispering when talking to other hostages or raising your voice when talking to a terrorist.

--Not assume that all of the hijackers are identified and not confide in fellow passengers.

--Not complain, act belligerently or be non-cooperative when dealing with the terrorists or other hostages.

--Not debate, argue or discuss political issues with the terrorists or among the hostages.


--Not deliberately turn your back on a terrorist, particularly the terrorist leader.

No Military ID

Besides these mostly common-sense procedures, the bank warns its employees not to carry a military ID card if they are retired from the service or still in the reserves. Identification is a problem for government employees because their official passports immediately give away their status, and Campbell said that proposals have been made to modify the system to make official travelers less conspicuous.