In light of the return of many jihadists from fighting in Syria and Iraq to their home countries, counter-terrorism unit advises Israelis use caution when traveling abroad during High Holy Days.
Israelis and Jews in western Europe could be the target of terror attacks from global jihadists, the National Security Agency’s counter-terrorism unit said Monday, as it issued travel warning for Europe ahead of the High Holy Days.
The threat comes mostly from Islamist groups, including the Islamic State, many of whom are “graduates of (fighting in) Syria and Iraq” and who are now returning to their home countries in Europe, the counter-terrorism unit said.
According to intelligence gathered by the unit, there remains a prominent threat of revenge attacks against Israelis abroad, particularly businessmen and former state officials. The fear is terrorists would either try to kidnap or murder Israelis.
The threat of terror attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in Europe increased after the May 24 attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels, in which four people were killed.
At the same time, the threat remains from attack by Iran or Hezbollah against Israeli and Jewish targets across the world, with an emphasis on “soft” targets, including tourists and Jewish symbols such as rabbis, community leaders or Chabad Houses.
A warning against traveling to Sinai is also still in place, in light of the security situation and terror activity in the peninsula, particularly coming from Ansar Bait al-Maqdis.
Israel has also issued a travel warning for Turkey, with the counter terrorism unit advising the public to avoid non-essential trips to the country.
The threat of terror attacks against Israeli tourists and businesses has also grown in Africa, following an escalation in attacks by Somali militant organization al-Shabaab, which operates primarily in Kenya, and Boko Haram in Nigeria. There is also a potential threat in Morocco, and a concrete threat of attacks in southern Thailand.
“The travel warnings are based on solid and credible information that reflects a concrete threat, based on intelligence,” the counter terrorism unit said.
The unit has provided a list of guidelines for Israelis to follow during all trips abroad:
1. Remain perceptive and highly vigilant.
2. Entirely avoid countries to which the travel warnings apply.
3. Reject any tempting and unexpected proposals, whether for business or pleasure.
4. Reject unexpected requests for meetings, mostly in remote places and at night.
5. Do not allow suspicious or unexpected visitors into your hotel room.
6. When spending an extended period abroad, stay away from a routine by changing travel routes, restaurants and hotels.