Bracing for Terrorism

<i> Wright is a former assistant foreign editor at The Times. His column appears monthly. </i>


Following the terrorism convictions of Egyptian Sheik Omar Abdul Rahman and nine others earlier this month in New York, U.S. officials braced for renewed terrorist threats against Americans abroad. Travelers on international flights are required to present a photo ID when checking in. The State Department advises that “there may be an increased risk of terrorist incidents” against U.S. interests abroad and urges Americans “to pay close attention to their personal security practices overseas.” Security Abroad--If you travel where anti-American terrorism is considered a possibility, the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs offers this advice:

- Schedule direct flights if possible. Try to minimize the time spent in the public area of an airport.

- Avoid luggage tags, dress and behavior that might identify you as an American.


- Keep an eye out for suspicious abandoned packages or briefcases, and report them to authorities.


France: Hotel keepers and cafe owners are grumbling about a drop-off in tourism due at least in part to an unremitting series of terrorist bombings in Paris, according to the Reuters news service. At press time Wednesday, the count stood at eight attacks attributed to Algerian extremists, with seven people killed and more than 140 injured since July.

In the most recent attack, Oct. 17, a bomb exploded in a subway car between the St.-Michel and Musee d’Orsay stations in the heart of Paris, injuring 29 people. The transit line affected was a regional RER commuter line that many tourists ride out to Versailles. The Times’ Paris correspondent Scott Kraft says the government has flooded streets and subway cars with police and army reservists and sealed hundreds of trash cans where bombs might be placed.


Briefly . . .

Lebanon: Washington last month slightly eased its ban on air links with Beirut. But, in response to inquiries from firms eager to do business there, the State Department stated anew that it considers travel to Lebanon “extremely dangerous” and that it is a felony to travel there without prior U.S. government permission.

Mexico: The crime rate in Mexico City is up 28% and reportedly at an all-time high this year, Reuters reported. The city has seen a rash of holdups in fashionable restaurants, and car thefts are widespread.

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, 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.