Multiple news outlets in the U.K. are reporting that the U.K. naval commander for NATO is warning that ISIS presents a threat to shipping in the Mediterranean Sea.
The popular Daily Mail published UK Commander Warns Mediterranean Cruise Ships Could be Terror Targets.
It’s a topic we cover often. It is our belief that cruise ships are woefully unprepared to address the threat of an ISIS attack on a cruise ship and when cruise passenger are sent ashore on excursions, where they are particularly vulnerable.
We were interviewed in several online articles about the issue, including Yahoo Travel: Is Your Cruise Ship Prepared for a Terrorist Attack?
There are few travel writers willing to have a frank and realistic assessment of the vulnerability of cruise ships to terrorists.
We have been criticized before for discussing how how ISIS will attack cruise ship passengers: How the Next Jihadist Terror Attack Against Cruise Passengers Will Happen.
Today the Telegraph published an article Are Cruise Holidays Safe from Terrorism? written by U.K. cruise travel specialist Jane Archer who, in our assessment, down played the threat or terror.
She argues that: "One of the benefits of a cruise holiday is that cruise companies can change itineraries immediately in response to incidents. Hotels cannot do that. If the cruise lines believe it is dangerous to visit a particular port, they can simply alter course and so (sic) somewhere else so holidays are not ruined."
Ms. Archer also says that "there is no evidence at all that terrorists have targeted cruise passengers in the past."
She also claims that "cruise lines conduct stringent security checks on everyone embarking their ships. Luggage is put through X-ray scanners, just as it is at an airport before flying, and passengers have to walk through detectors before being allowed on board."
Ms. Archer’s article is essentially a regurgitation of the talking points released by the cruise industry’s trade organization, Cruise Line International Association.
In response, I would point out these facts:
22 cruise tourists from a Costa and a MSC cruise ship were slaughtered when they disembarked excursion buses at the Bardo museum in Tunis with absolutely no security and no warnings even though it was widely known to these cruise lines that ISIS presented a danger in the region. The cruise lines cruised their guests into danger and should have sailed them elsewhere but didn’t. Cruise lines are often motivated primarily by financial considerations, not the safety and security of their passengers.
Yes, of course terrorists have targeted cruise passengers in the past. Putting aside the Achille Lauro terrorist attack back in the 1980’s, the Rand corporation has more recently stated that cruise passengers are targets. CNN reported that al Qaeda contemplated seizing a cruise ship, forcing the passengers to dress in orange Guantanamo Bay-like suits, and videotape their executions to inflict maximum terror on the public. Read al Qaeda Planned to Seize Cruise Ships, Execute Passengers. Of course, ISIS just targeted the cruise passengers’ excursion buses in Tunis.
Think that all passenger luggage is carefully screened for security purposes? Ask yourself that question after reading Port of Miami Security Guards Arrested for Stealing Cruise Passenger iPads. Large quantities of drugs are also often smuggled aboard cruise ships by crew members without detection. If crew members or passengers can smuggle large quantities of drugs onto ships in luggage or taping the drugs to their bodies, they can do the same with explosives.
U.S. immigrations officials typically do not review passenger manifests until after the cruise ship sails and arrest people with outstanding warrants only when the cruise ship returns to port. Are you about to cruise with a terrorist in the cabin next door? Maybe. The Customs and Border Protection officials may arrest the bad guys but only if you make it back to port.
ISIS already blew up an Egyptian frigate at sea, just last year (photo above). As we all know, Islamic extremists blew up the USS Cole many years ago, by ramming a small boat packed with explosives into the naval ship, killing many U.S. service men and women.
The warning signs are all there. It’s your decision who to believe or disbelieve. Do you tend to trust the top NATO naval commander for the U.K. or a cruise writer for the Telegraph?
Photo Credit: Daily Mail