Since I’m on Madrid’s US Embassy‘s mailing list they send me these alerts every so often but I don’t usually pay much attention. Nothing has ever happened after receiving the travel alerts. Today’s alert regards …”the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks.”
When they get a “tip” they try to verify and qualify it and then alert the US citizenry. Imagine if they had such information in their pocket and didn’t share it – AND THEN an attack took place. That’d be bad, clearly. Usually, it seems, the travel alerts are targeted to U.S. travel, but not always – like today’s, focusing on European travel.
Terrorist attacks are nothing new to the modern world. Spain too suffered its worst terrorist attack at the Madrid Train Bombings on March 11, 2004 where nearly 200 persons lost their lives and thousands more were injured.
As I said above, I don’t pay much attention to these warnings because nothing ever happens. BUT if something did happen, yes, that would be terrible. The potential loss of life is the worst but also the thousands stranded around the world at foreign airports or, in the BEST case scenario, canceled travel plans for that once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
When there’s a threat of some kind, of any kind, be it a train bombing, an elusive sniper on an I-270 overpass bridge picking off motorists, or the dreaded airplane crash.
Sure, as terrible as it is, people are/were always hurts in all of the above situations at one time or another – but a minuscule percentage of the total. Initially, people rear-back and shy away from these things, fearing it could happen to them. Well SURE, it could happen to them – but their chances are better at winning the lottery – twice!
Even after the Madrid train bombings I was happy to see people taking the trains to work the very next morning. A guy’s gotta work, afterall. A Spanish friend was phone-interviewed by a Canadian radio station in the days after the bombing, asking her opinion about how, in general, people felt about riding the trains. She said that people were understandably nervous but life goes on and no terrorist attack would stop their way of life, that it was no good living in fear. Sure, this was one person’s opinion and I’m certain not everyone feels this way. I have no doubt some people took the extreme reaction of never riding the trains again because of the “what if” factor.
So make your travel plans and live your lives moving forward. There will always be those wanting to hurt, injure, and disrupt. Don’t live your life for them – the way they want you to live it, live life for yourself – the way YOU want to live it. You get to choose.
Here’s the warning they sent to me yesterday:
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U.S. CITIZEN WARDEN MESSAGE
October 3, 2010
SUBJECT: Europe Travel Alert
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for terrorist attacks in Europe. Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks. European governments have taken action to guard against a terrorist attack and some have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions.
Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.
We continue to work closely with our European allies on the threat from international terrorism, including al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats.