Following the arrest in New York of Hamas political leader Mousa Abu Marzak, a Beirut spokesman for the militant Islamic group warned that Abu Marzak’s extradition to Israel on terrorism charges would amount to a declaration of war. According to one report, Hamas might confine its retaliation to American interests in Israel. Taking no chances, the State Department warned Americans traveling anywhere abroad “to exercise greater than usual caution” because of “the possibility of random acts of anti-American violence.”
Domestically, U.S. airports and airlines were put under a nationwide security alert earlier this month in response to unspecified threats, and there was speculation that the Abu Marzak affair may have been at least part of the reason.
France: In the first fatal bombing in Paris since 1986, an explosion aboard a rush-hour subway train killed seven people and injured 84 in one of the city’s busiest tourist areas late last month. The blast occurred at 5:30 p.m. as the train was pulling into the St.-Michel station along the Seine River near Notre Dame Cathedral. In the following days, hundreds of extra police patrolled the Paris subways. Then, on Aug. 17, another rush-hour explosion--this one in a garbage can near a newsstand--injured 17 people, most of them tourists, outside a busy subway station near the Arc de Triomphe. Investigators suspected Algerian Muslim guerrillas of both attacks. In 1986, a series of Paris bombings attributed to an Iranian-backed Lebanese group left 13 people dead and more than 100 injured.
Egypt: The U.S. Embassy in Cairo has received a number of “credible” threats against U.S. government targets in Egypt, an embassy spokesman said. Although none of the threats were directed specifically at private citizens, the embassy on Aug. 3 urged Americans in Egypt to be on the alert. Some of the anonymous threats were linked to the New York trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Americans are advised to increase their security throughout the sheik’s trial, the spokesman said, “to protect themselves from possible retaliation . . . in the event Sheik Abdel-Rahman is convicted.”
Jamaica: An American tourist from South Carolina was fatally beaten and his companion injured during a robbery in Montego Bay earlier this month. According to news agencies, the assailant entered the tourists’ hotel room near midnight, attacked them and fled with money. Meanwhile, following a two-day anti-crime protest strike by businessmen in downtown Kingston, the government vowed to “saturate” the business district with police and soldiers. For starters, thousands of illegal street vendors were moved out of the area since the government had determined that the vendors’ presence was attracting criminals from the poorer neighborhoods. Violence in the Jamaican capital has left dozens dead in recent months.
Briefly . . .
Israel: Five people, including an American tourist and a suicide bomber, were killed last week when a bomb blew apart a bus during morning rush hour in a northern Jerusalem neighborhood. The attack came a month after the suicide bombing of a Tel Aviv bus that left five Israelis dead.
India: Kashmiri terrorists murdered a 27-year-old Norwegian man and threatened to kill their four remaining Western hostages, including an American, unless the Indian government meets their demands. The State Department renewed its warning for Americans to stay out of the Kashmir region.
Sri Lanka: Despite bombs and warnings to foreigners, tourists--especially Britons--are coming to Sri Lanka in growing numbers, the Reuters news service reports. This month, one rebel Tamil faction again threatened to kill tourists and foreign investors.
Corsica: Tourists usually take over the French Mediterranean island in August, but this summer has been eerily quiet. Reasons: a strike by ferry workers, a deadly vendetta between rival business factions, and continual low-level violence by militant nationalists.
Vietnam: A Laotian was sentenced to death and a Californian to 20 years for drug trafficking, according to Reuters. The American, John Joseph Daniels from Long Beach, was convicted of trying to smuggle 1.5 tons of hashish into Vietnam aboard a fishing boat.
Hot spots: State Department travel warnings are in effect for Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Colombia, Croatia, Guatemala, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Peru, Rwanda, Serbia and Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan and Tajikistan.
The U.S. State Department offers recorded travel warnings and advisories at (202) 647-5225; the fax line is (202) 647-3000.