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Travel Advisory

Convictions in Bombing Plot Raise Fears of More Terrorism

September 22, 1996|EDWARD WRIGHT | Wright is former assistant foreign editor at The Times. His column appears monthly


After the Sept. 5 convictions of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef and two companions on terrorism charges, the U.S. State Department warned Americans traveling abroad that "the potential exists for retaliation by Yousef's followers against American interests." Although no specific threats have been received, travelers "should pay close attention to their personal security practices overseas," the department said. The three were convicted by a federal court in New York City of plotting to blow up a dozen U.S. jetliners over the Pacific. Meanwhile, federal officials recommended $300 million worth of airport security improvements, including advanced explosive detection devices, more bomb-sniffing dogs and the use of "profiling," in which security personnel focus attention on passengers who may fit a broad terrorist profile.

Latin America

Mexico: Two popular tourist resorts were among seven locations where leftist rebels struck at police and military posts in coordinated attacks across southern Mexico late last month. The attacks left 16 people dead and more than 20 wounded. Worst hit was the Pacific beach town of Santa Cruz Huatulco in Mexico's newest upscale resort area, where 10 people were killed. In the resort city of Acapulco, one policeman was wounded in the attack, which was about four miles from the hotel area. No tourists were hurt in either place, but fears were expressed that further attacks on tourist sites could adversely affect Mexico's $6-billion tourism industry. The attacks were the work of the Popular Revolutionary Army, or EPR, whose members are well armed and apparently finance themselves with kidnap ransoms.

Brazil: Violent crimes against tourists visiting Rio de Janeiro fell to a 10-year low in July, the Brazilian tourist police told Reuters news service. In some parts of Rio's Copacabana and Ipanema beachfront neighborhoods, police recorded only one anti-tourist crime a day in July, compared with an average of 10 a day in the past. Tourist police have been alerting visitors to possible dangers and advising them not to flaunt cameras, jewelry or money.

Briefly . . .

St. Croix: A Michigan man who visited St. Croix regularly for 30 years was shot to death and his wife injured, and three islanders have been charged with the July robbery-murder, Newsday reports. Dennis Jaroh and his wife were driving toward Gallows Bay, outside Christiansted, when they were attacked. It was the fourth murder on St. Croix this year, the first of a visitor.

Peru: The U.S. Embassy in Lima warns that Aero Continente Airlines, a domestic Peruvian carrier, "has been operating aircraft with unsafe engine conditions." U.S. Embassy personnel have been prohibited from flying aboard the airline until further notice.

Costa Rica: In the wake of a high-profile kidnapping that may have spooked potential visitors, Costa Rica's tourism is experiencing its lowest growth rate in five years, Reuters reports. Two European women, kidnapped on New Year's Day, were released in March after payment of a $200,000 ransom.

Hot spots: The State Department has dropped Guatemala from its list of places where Americans are warned not to travel. Remaining on the list are Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Central African Republic, Colombia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Sudan.

The U.S. State Department offers recorded travel warnings and advisories at (202) 647-5225; the fax line is (202) 647-3000.

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