Cruise TerrorismTwo articles caught my attention this morning.

Cruise Industry Believe Red Tape and Visa Restrictions are a Bigger Threat than Terrorism, written by cruise fan and Mirror blogger Captain Greybeard, suggests that the cruise line CEO’s were downplaying the threat of terrorism this week at the Seatrade Europe conference held in Hamburg.

The Islamist Menace Shadowing This Sept. 11th, written by former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, indicates that America is in denial of the "increasing and diversifying" jihadist threats of violence. Unlike President Obama who avoids any characterization of terrorism linked to Islamic radicalism, Giuliani traces the threat of killing Americans in terror attacks squarely back to  "extremist interpretation of Muhammad’s call to jihad." He cites the 1985 murder of Jewish cruise passenger Leon Klinghoffer, who was killed by "Islamic terrorist terrorists" while in his wheelchair and dumped into the Mediterranean Sea, as an example of what can happen today.   

But families booking cruises to Mediterranean ports of call don’t read history books. I doubt that 5 percent of U.S. cruisers know the story of Leon Klinghoffer or could name the cruise ship he was slaughtered on. 

This week I was contacted by cruise passengers who were upset that their cruises to Istanbul were canceled. They scoffed when the captain mentioned the threat of terrorism as an explanation.

ISIS radicals today present a threat far more widespread and deadly than the PLO terrorists of the 1980’s. Are cruise passengers in denial?  Yes, of course. No one wants to contemplate terrorism at sea during a holiday cruise any more than they wish to consider experiencing a cruise ship fire, which is a relatively common occurrence as recent events illustrate.

Are cruise executives downplaying the threat of ISIS blowing up a ship or holding passengers hostage? Such talk is bad for business. Other than occasionally canceling a port of two, the cruise industry routinely sails through the Suez canal and to ports in Morocco, Algeria, and Egypt.

Don’t assume that the cruise lines will avoid a dangerous port of call. Islamic terrorists killed 32 cruise passengers in Tunisia earlier this year when Costa and MSC cruised blindly into the Goulette port in Tunis. Despite the foreseeable risk of danger presented by Islamic terrorists active in the country and in nearby Libya, the cruise lines provided absolutely no security or warnings to their guests. 

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Photo Credit: International Business Times

Reuters is reporting that the Carnival Sensation cruise ship’s arrival back in Port Canaveral today was delayed for several hours as authorities responded to what some are saying is a bomb hoax.

Ibrahim Zarou - Carnival Cruise - Bomb ThreatThe cruise ship was heading back to Port Canaveral after a three-day cruise to the Bahamas when a passenger allegedly overheard another passenger make a "bomb threat."  

Reuters quoted the passenger allegedly saying:

"We are jihad. Come to the top deck and watch the bomb. The bomb is going to blow."

The FBI, U.S. Coast Guard and Brevard County sheriff’s deputies boarded the cruise ship at around 9:30 a.m. (approximately 5 – 6 hours after the incident) according to a U.S. Coast Guard press release.  Passenger Ibrahim Khalil Zarou, 31, a U.S. citizen, of Leesburg, Virginia, was arrested.

There are conflicting stories about how the FBI is handling the matter.  One newspaper suggests that a FBI agent later stated that there was no criminal conduct and the incident was just a "mis-communication" between passengers.  But other sources say that Mr. Zarou had to post a $10,000 bail and will be prosecuted.  

Passengers report the passenger was "highly intoxicated" – not an unusual thing on the Carnival fun ships, particularly early in the morning when the incident was reported.  It is unknown whether the passengers reporting the incident were also drunk.  It would be interesting to see how much money Carnival charged him for the booze sold during the cruise.

One thing to consider:  Although this was a hoax or "mis-communication," U.S. authorities did not board the cruise ship until around 5 – 6 hours later – even though the cruise ship was sailing from Nassau back to Florida.  Imagine if this had been a real jihadist attack, and the cruise ship was not near a U.S. port.  How long would it take for U.S. authorities to appear? 




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