Risk assessment : at airports and train stations, if U.S.A. attacks Syria

In the year 2004, a bomb exploded at Madrid in Spain, killing and injuring very many civilian people. That explosion was caused, as an act of vengeance, by persons who were opposed to the military invasion at Iraq. In the year 2005, a bomb exploded at or near a railroad train station at London in England, killing and injuring civilian people. That explosion was caused, apparently, as an act of vengeance, by persons who were opposed to the killing of Arab people at the Middle East. Do you think : will there be an increased risk of such incidents, in the U.S.A., if the U.S.A. does a military attack at Syria ?

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12686 posts

Who knows??? But there is always that possibility and seldom is a good excuse needed. Anything will do. So if you are asking if the risk will be higher, it could be. But, for us, not enough to worry about. My risk of being injured in a car accident driving to the airport for our Sept 23rd departure is much greater - and I don't worry about that. The probability of being injured in a taxi or bus accident is far greater than a terrorist bombing. And we keep doing it.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12686 posts

Again, Who knows??? You are asking for a definite answer to what? An indefinite question??? Again, it is risk assessment? What is the risk that you will be injured or killed by a terrorist action? If you think it is higher than being struck by lightning in Missouri then you should stay home. No one can tell what you should do or what risk you should assume. I can only say what I would do. We are headed to Amsterdam the last of Sep and will be in Europe through Oct. Your concerns never crossed our mind. We are not worried about any terrorist activity but I cannot tell you not to worry. That is your decision.

Posted by Webmaster
Edmonds, WA, USA
320 posts

This is a general note to the board. I've already had to trim away some responses here. The OP has written a good question that I'm sure many people could be concerned about. However, we won't allow this to become a political discussion. This is not a place to discuss terrorism, make claims about large groups of people, or theorize about political leaders' intentions. Make sure any additional posts relate directly to travel. Side discussions about politics, terrorism, etc will get this topic deleted. Thank you,
RS Webmaster

Posted by Sarah
St. Louis, MO USA
1645 posts

Hi Ron. I also agree with Frank. I might be concerned about this too, if I were leaving the country soon. But I don't think you should let your concern stop you from traveling. Anything could happen: You could have an aneurysm or get hit by a car. If you're healthy and have the time and money, go for it. Many groups travel to Israel, for example, during potential and actual violent episodes in or near that country because they're so passionate about visiting it. You're passionate about travel, so do it.

Posted by Carroll
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1456 posts

I think the odds of an attempted attack are pretty high. But who knows if it will be successful, and who knows where it will be. I feel like the odds of it happening where I will be vacationing later this month (Wales) are no greater than the odds of it happening in Pittsburgh. The flights may entail slightly higher risk, but as others said, it's more likely I'll be in a car accident.

Posted by Patty
Steilacoom, WA, USA
567 posts

Clearly this tragic stuff happens and it's horrible for those involved. That said, my daughter was in London when the subway was bombed and in France before that when they had riots, so we've learned that we just have to trust. We wouldn't change plans because of it.

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8336 posts

While no one would call me much of a risk-taker, I don't let potential terrorist acts, or plane crashes, or anything else affect my travel plans. There is nothing I can do about it, and nothing I could do to stop it. I figure if it's my turn, it's just my turn.

Posted by Margaret
675 posts

The U.S. State Department's travel advisory site is the best place to determine risks. Country-by-country info can be had there, as well as any global concerns. It is updated regularly.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21479 posts

Ron, From a risk assessment viewpoint, I believe it's highly unlikely that you'll have any problems. Given the fact that the U.K. has voted NOT to participate in any military action and Russia is strongly opposed to it, I doubt that either area would be targeted by extremists. I wouldn't have any hesitation in travelling to either country at the present time. Happy travels!

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
894 posts

Ron - It is impossible to do a risk assessment. Just to add to your considerations - since you plan to go to Russia, surely that is the last place Syria (or Iran or their terrorist/freedom fighter proxy groups), would attack. So far as the other side goes, Al Qaeda (who inspired the Madrid and London atrocities you mention), in this case seem unlikely to attack an US target given the US is planning to support them by attacking the Syrian government. The problem, I suspect, is that it is all too difficult to know what would happen.

Posted by Ann
49 posts

We are traveling to Germany & Paris at the end of the month and we have thought about this as well. We've decided that you really can't live in fear of stuff like this because you'd never leave your house! If something happens while we're away (and the chances are slim that they may) we will just deal with it. It's always good to be cautious and pay attention to your surroundings, know where the exits are if you're in a subway or on a train, and just be aware. As for the increased risk of attack, I would be surprised if anything happens.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
5383 posts

I live in Europe, I travel only on public transportation, and am at the Frankfurt airport about 4-5 times a week, but I never even think about this. It just isn't on my radar of things to worry about. Mainly because I am a firm believer that when your time is up, it is up, so it is best for me to continue going through life, grabbing all the gusto I can. I am a bit fearful though of riding in a car on the autobahn! Please do continue with your trip, Ron.

Posted by Marbleskies
656 posts

I respect your question and offer the following perspective: - I know I will continue w my planned travels - your decision needs to be based upon the level of angst acceptable to you. Safe travels (regardless of politics)

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
2740 posts

We traveled to Munich, Innsbruck and Venice in 1991 when George H.W. Bush led the original Iraq invasion. Skiing in Austria was great. We were the only Americans anywhere we went, including the Hofbrau House. It was a great time to be there. It's good to avoid large crowds, however. Western Europe is a long way from Syria and Israel. Most of our time is spent in the countryside where there is less chance of problems.
And everywhere we travel, we never speak politics of any kind.

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
12960 posts

Should that happen, as long as you don't go to places known to be frequented by Americans (like bars in base towns), you should be safer in Europe than in the US. After all, where best to attack Americans than where Americans are most concentrated, ie, in the US. The incident you mention was retribution for Spain's involvement in the Iraq attack, and they targeted Spaniards.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1736 posts

There's always (unfortunately) chaos and violence somewhere, and I figure there's a risk in anything and everything. The best visit I ever had in Egypt was in the latter part of the 2nd Gulf War. Very few tourists (and virtually no Americans); it was possible to explore and enjoy the country as never before. People were also very happy to see tourists and our dollars, so I figured we were actually doing some good by being there.

Posted by Mme Eli
1170 posts

I don't worry about these things whilst travelling. Living in the good old USA, my chances of being gunned down in a drive-by shooting, or mass shooting at a school, cinema, or any public place in this country, is higher in my opinion.

Posted by Bruce
Whitefish, Montana
857 posts

An occasional drunk driver here, but usually at 2am. Terrorism, in all forms and locations, doesn't have to be logical nor predictable.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
4515 posts

You have to be stoic. I was on the London Underground once at the height of the IRA terrorism, when they were blowing up trains and killing people left and right. Suddenly there was an announcement that due to 'security issues' the train would not stop at Waterloo Station. So everyone who wanted Waterloo got off at the stop before and we all walked across the bridge to the station. I heard not a single grumble, everyone just carried on carrying on and that is what I plan to do.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2193 posts

There are things one can do to mitigate all kinds of risk if he so desires: don't fly on airlines with poor safety records, buy travel insurance, don't visit North Korea, don't go on a hiking vacation in the Hindu Kush range, and so forth. But why worry about the possibility of terrorist attacks in developed countries? It could happen, of course, but the chances are so remote. We bought tickets the night before the Madrid attacks...interesting timing, but that was the only thought I had about it. We were in Europe a month before the London attacks and bought tickets for a subsequent trip right after London...no worries. I read recently that your chances of being hit by lightning are something like 1 in 500,000 while your chances of being killed on an airplane in a terrorist attack are 1 in 25 million. This should help put things in perspective. Live your life, man. Mme Eli mentioned your chances of getting shot in this country. In Iowa, we now give gun permits to blind people...no joke...it's all over the international news. Still, as bad as it is in the USA regarding guns, the only people I personally know who were actually victims of gun crime were vacationing in Spain during the crime (outside of Madrid). But that wouldn't keep me from visiting Madrid again.

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
820 posts

I would suggest if you have so many worries, YOU SHOULD JUST STAY HOME. You sound like you will be on edge all the time, so why go? You aren't going to enjoy yourself. Some people are scared to go outside, so they choose to stay inside and miss life. Nobody has a crystal ball to know when terrorists are going to strike. You could get killed in a bank robbery at your local bank also. You could get car jacked at your local market or mall. You could get killed by a drunk driver, you could die of cancer or have a heart attack worrying about yourself.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
5411 posts

If there is a war with Syria, the first thing I will do is get online and find an airline deal somewhere. That's my usual strategy. I can still remember a round trip ticket on Varig from Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro for just over $500 purchased just a couple of days after September 11, 2001.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
3927 posts

Or, you could choose to believe...they wouldn't dare car jack my car.

Posted by Linda
Bromley, Kent,, UK
1759 posts

One of the purposes of terrorism (ie attacks on civilian targets) is to terrorise people so much that their lives become circumscribed by fear.
Nil Desperandum Carburundum Illegitami (cod Latin)and follow the travel advice given by your government.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Hell, you have to die somewhere - - right where you are when it happens is as good a place as any. You won't give a rat's rear bumper when it's over, anyway. Press on and watch.

Posted by Mme Eli
1170 posts

Ed, thanks for the laugh! And I need to bill you for the tea I spilled on the keyboard, LOL

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2029 posts

From a geopolitical standpoint, I don't think there's much of a risk if we do attack (which looks unlikely at this point anyway) because the usual actors who would be mad at a strike - such as Hezbollah, who support the Assad regieme - are diverting much of their resources to fighting the rebels in Syria. They have a practical war on the ground there. Terrorism against the U.S. would require a lot of resources and planning as large scale terrorist attacks take years to plan. Since the proposed military action by the U.S. would be a few days or weeks of cruise missle strikes, it seems unlikely that they'd be able to get their crap together in time for a relatiatory strike. Meanwhile, many of the other Islamist terrorist groups actually support the Syrian rebels - such as Al Qaeda. While Al Qaeda doesn't like us much in general, I don't think they'd retaliate against us specifically for supporting the same side they're on. Frankly, if we do authorize military strikes - which again, looks unlikely - it's really not going to affect anything outside of Syria. I really doubt flight tickets will drop or anything like that.