Six U.S. citizens were saved during the attack at the Radisson Blu in Bamako, Mali, showing how vulnerable Americans are to terrorism at international hotel chains where westerners are brought together under an immediate threat.
The attack on the hotel claimed at least 27 lives after gunmen took around 170 people hostage on the seventh floor on the hotel.
The Radisson Blu houses several international businesses, diplomats, UN peacekeepers and tourists at any given time. This makes the hotel a prime target for terrorists who want to carry out attacks on westerns on their own turf.
And it’s not the first time.
In all of the three instances, Americans have been staying at the hotels, and a total of six U.S. citizens have died. The attack in Islamabad is believed to have been targeted at 30 U.S. Marines who were staying at the hotel on their way to Afghanistan.
Six Americans were rescued from the Radisson Blu Friday with the help of U.S. special forces. It was later revealed that five of them worked for the U.S. Department of Defense. Despite the risks that come with circulating around other westerners, U.S. government and military bodies continue to do it.
The risks were particularly evident during the attack in Bamako. The Radisson Blu is a modern hotel in an impoverished area. It is crammed in the center of the capital and the entrance is just a few feet from the road, unlike similar structures in the city.
In late October, Iyad Ag Ghaly, the Malian Tuareg leader of Ansar Dine, a terrorist organization that belongs to the Al-Qaida network, called for jihadists to attack westerns in Mali. He particularly focused on the French who “continues to claim, and before it, its sister in evil America, in claiming security and stability, and development and construction” in Mali. He ended his video segment by asking people to “take revenge for honor of our noble Prophet.”
The U.S. Embassy in Mali has reacted to the increased threat over the past few years by issuing a travel warning on going to Mali. The most recent one went out in May and it advises American citizens to be on high alert “when visiting locations frequented by westerners,” as the risk increases.
Another notice to “reduce exposure to places frequented by westerners” was sent out in August.
“U.S. citizens should review their personal security plans, exercise caution, remain vigilant, maintain situational awareness at all times, vary routes, and take appropriate security precautions to ensure their own safety,” the notice said. “Also, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates.”
Just a week later, a hostage situation at a hotel in northern Mali killed 13 people, including five UN peace workers.
Yet accommodations continue to be made for places like the Radisson Blu.
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