Thursday, June 26, 2014

Global Impact: Case Studies and Message-Points for All Travelers

Rape, Murder in Thailand. The  British victim, 21, had left the company of her friends on New Year’s Day to call her mother. Unfortunately, the British woman placed herself in a vulnerable situation by being preoccupied on her mobile, distracted from activity going on around her, and by walking while talking to her mother.

IMPACT: Being unaware of her impending vulnerability, the victim was unaware that two drunken assailants were quickly approaching her from behind who subsequently raped her near the ocean and beat her to death.

Lesson-Learned: Speak on a mobile phone only in a safe area where there is no risk of being victimized.

Chilean Bus Accident. Twelve US citizens on an ocean cruise together took it upon themselves to set up a day-trip on their own, rather than participate in the cruise-line's already vetted and screened activities. 

IMPACT: In using a vehicle not authorized for twelve passengers, all of the cruise passengers subsequently died on a mountain road.

Lesson-Learned: Use ONLY cruise-line sanctioned shore activities.

Quetzaltenango abduction and rape. Guatemala’s second-largest city (pop. 300,000), near the Mexican border and has always been a magnet for criminals, particularly at night when their activities can be concealed.

IMPACT: At 0100 hours, the young US couple, rather than taking a reputable taxi back to their hotel, decided to walk. Such a choice was not a good one.

Lesson-Learned: The young couple was severely beaten and the woman raped by local criminals as a result of their failure to take preventative precautions.

Random shooting at Roman ruins in Amman. On September 4, 2006, a lone Jordanian gunman, Nabeel Ahmed Issa Jaourah, 38, a married father of five, who was from the same village as the late al-Qaeda leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, opened fire on innocent Western tourists at the ruins of a Roman amphitheater outside of Amman, killing a British tourist and wounding six other foreigners before being overpowered and arrested.

Although it is in our DNA to promptly go back to business as usual after a high-casualty terrorist act; the downside of doing so is that very, very few committed terrorists EVER give up their ideology.

Another factor that puts this terrible incident into perspective is the November 9, 2005, suicide-bomber attack on three foreign hotel chains (Radisson SAS, Grand Hyatt and the Day's Inn) in Amman. Using four suicide bombers, all from Iraq, the Iraqis were successful in killing 59 victims, three of the four suicide bombers and injured 115 people.

The Iraqi suicide bombers included: Abu Khabib, Abu Muaz, Abu Omaira and Om Omaira.

At the Radisson SAS, later renamed the Landmark Hotel, two suicide bombers (a husband-and-wife team—Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari and Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi) were focused on the Philadelphia Ballroom, where Ashraf Akhras and his bride, Nadia Al-Alami, were celebrating their wedding with around 900 Jordanian and Palestinian guests. 

Sajida al-Rishawi was unable to detonate her explosive belt, resulting in a valuable member of the team being able to be interrogated by Jordanian intelligence.

Ali al-Shamari, apparently admonished his wife and ordered her to leave the ballroom. As she was leaving, the lights suddenly went out in the ballroom as Ali jumped onto a dining-room table and detonated himself. Among the 38 people killed in the explosion were the fathers of the bride and groom. In addition, the explosion destroyed the ballroom, blew out the large windows bordering the street caused and caused ceiling panels to collapse.

It should be noted that all three hotel properties were selected, largely because of the huge number of 900 Jordanian and Palestinian guests attending the wedding party and because expats and foreigners were using all three hotels.

According to The Associated Press, 36 people were killed at the Radisson SAS, nine at the Grand Hyatt, three at the Day's Inn and twelve in local hospitals.

Among the dead included: Thirty-six Jordanians, six Iraqis, five Palestinians, four US citizens, tow Arab-Israelis, two Bahrainis, three Chinese military delegates of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), one Saudi and one Indonesian.

Preliminary investigation in the September 4 attack, found no linkage between known terror groups and Jaourah, a Jordanian of Palestinian origin who worked as a metal welder, the official said.

The unprovoked shooting of several foreign tourists was the first major terror attack in Jordan since the triple hotel bombings of foreign hotel chains in Amman since the November 2005 the capital that killed 63 people and injured 115 others.

The gunman struck just outside the entrance to the popular amphitheater ruins in downtown Amman, said one witness.

Jaourah shouted "Allahu akbar," or "God is Great," as he ran past the foreign tourists, firing at them from behind. Then, he turned around, faced them and continued to shoot, the security official said.

Bystanders helped two tourist policemen capture Jaourah, who attempted to escape from the shooting scene.

The decedent was identified as a Briton, age 30. Those injured in the mass shooting included two British women, a Dutchman, an Australian woman, a woman from New Zealand and a Jordanian tourist police officer.

During his shooting rampage, Jaourah expended fourteen rounds at the foreign tourists.

Health Minister Saeed Darwazeh said the Dutch victim underwent surgery to repair his liver. He said the one of the two British women was in intensive care, but did not elaborate on her condition. He said the New Zealander was expected to undergo surgery to remove a bullet.

The amphitheater, built by the Romans in AD 169-77, rises out of one of Amman's hillsides. It seats 6,000 people and is used for musical and other performances.

IMPACT: Jordan's biggest challenge is being geographically situated in a very bad neighborhood dominated by bad actors. Unfortunately, with very few lucrative natural resources, unlike many nations blessed with crude oil reserves, the country is forced by circumstances to get along with everyone and attempt to excel in diplomacy and good interpersonal skills and be neighborly with everyone, including the US, the Europeans, the Middle East and the Gulf states. 

Lesson-Learned: Be approachable to everyone, develop industries that benefit others bilaterally and multilaterally and fill regional needs that are not being met elsewhere. Most importantly, it is essential that Jordan fine-tune its intelligence service for knowing what everyone is doing and what they're about to do is critical.

Miscellaneous Events Resulting in Injury and Death. Not being familiar with your surroundings in a foreign country, particularly in developing countries with considerable risks, can indeed lead to serious injury and/or death. 

Examples that come to mind include the countless foreigners who have been permanently disabled and/or injured while “running with the bulls” in Pamplona. Some have even been killed. In 2006, for example, a Bank of America bond trader was partially paralyzed after being injured by a bull. Seven others were also hospitalized after being gored.

Other classic examples include a young German tourist killed in a crocodile attack in Australia in 2002, when she ignored signs "Not to Swim in Reservoirs," at Kakadu National Park. 

Accidental falls are also on the list of accidents befalling tourists, as was the case of an American tourist who died after falling from a bridge at Jordan’s famous ruins at Petra. Unfortunately, tourists were advised by officials to stay away from Petra at the time because of slippery conditions caused by snow. In another Petra incident, an Australian tourist fell to his death when he ventured into a fenced-off area that was marked as "out of bounds to visitors." 

In 2005, an Australian woman was killed by a hippopotamus in Kenya when she ignored warnings to avoid hippos at night by her tour guide.

I myself was nearly fatally bitten by a very poisonous cobra while living in Thailand as I photographed a mongoose and cobra fight that caused me to lose sight of another cobra lingering nearby. As a result, I backed up within striking distance of the hooded serprent, but for some bizarre reason, he failed to bite me, very likely because I "froze in place." Whew!