Friday, February 8, 2013

Turkey: As Sarai Sierra's Remains Flown Home to NYC, Many Questions Abound

COMMENT: As a follow-up to my numerous postings on the murder of American tourist Sarai Sierra, 33, a married mother of two in Istanbul, many questions continue to remain unanswered in what increasingly appears to be a victim-precipitated crime as a result of a series of poor choices by the victim.

Most of our regular readers of this site know all too well the points I have consistently made in the past regarding the personal security awareness vulnerabilities that some foreign travelers permit themselves to be exposed to, which often renders them a probable victim of violent crime.

In Ms. Sierra's case, her first trip abroad, spanning two weeks, which strangely she chose to make when a friend suddenly could not make the trip, may very well have put into motion risks that ultimately would contribute to her demise. These risks include:
  • A first-time foreign visitor traveling alone, after a friend suddenly backs out of the trip;
  • Association with criminal elements;
  • Suspicious trips to Germany and Holland--Who paid for such trips?
  • Photography was apparently her primary interest, yet no camera has been found;
  • The FBI is examining a possible drug trafficking connection; 
  • The FBI's belief that the victim's family has not been forthright in providing agency all informative relative Sierra's travel; 
  •  An apparent sexual encounter she had with a man she had met online months ago, only to disappear the following day; and
  • Ms. Sierra being the victim of a blunt-force homicide with no evidence of sexual assault or armed robbery.
Although  Sierra's body was flown home to New York City on February 7, there are far more questions in this case than there are plausible answers.

I know all too well the eery feeling of escorting human remains back home, as I have done it several times in the past during my US Department of State career. I use the term "eery," knowing that most travelers who fly abroad never even consider the possibility that they may return home in the cargo hold of an airliner.