03 Oct What to make of the Terror Watch announced for Europe
The US Department of State issues two types of warnings to its citizens; one is a terror watch and the other is a warning. A watch is the lower level alert than the warning. Europe is currently under an ALERT only status for US Citizens beginning today, October 3, 2010 until January 31, 2011.
The basic alert states, “The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.” It goes on from there. To read the full text see the US Department of State’s travel website.
What does this mean to Americans? It doesn’t mean cancel your trip. It does mean you should be prepared for it to take longer in security lines to get both in and out of the countries. You should be patient and polite at all times entering and leaving Europe. (My readers are always polite right? I’m just saying, it’s worth being extra nice now!) Register at the each Embassy where you plan to travel to receive the latest online security information.
France is considered a higher target given the large amount of tourists that visit. News reports are saying that softer targets are the places people need to be more personally vigilant – they include tourist buses, monuments, large American brand hotels, and public transportation. Try avoiding any one of those national landmarks and you may as well stay home and take an online tour.
The purpose of these watches is not to discourage travel, it’s more to get all citizens to pay attention to their surroundings and report any suspicious behavior. My personal opinion is that we as tourists won’t notice anything suspicious, but the locals who hear about this will pay more attention to their daily surroundings and will think to mention odd behavior by their neighbors which is much more likely to end in real data that is helpful to stop potential terrorist attacks.
I still maintain the biggest danger I will encounter on my trip to Paris will come from the ten lane highway to the airport here in Texas or in a cab in Paris when one of those pesky daredevil motorcycle drivers cuts us off!