Risk assessment firm pooh-poohs State Dept. warning

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

LONDON A leading Western risk assessment firm has dismissed the warnings by the United States to avoid travel to several areas of the Middle East.

The London-based Control Risks Group disagreed in particular with a State Department alert for Americans to avoid Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The firm disputed U.S. assessments of the likelihood of an attack on U.S. nationals in that region of the Middle East.

On April 28, the State Department, in an updated travel warning, urged U.S. citizens to leave the Gaza Strip immediately, Middle East Newsline reported. The department also warned Americans to suspend travel plans to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Over the weekend, the State Department urged American citizens to leave Saudi Arabia.

"Control Risks Group does not concur with the State Department's travel advice," the firm said in an analysis. "We continue to consider that there is no need for any exceptional travel restrictions or security precautions for travel to Israel, where security and travel risk ratings remain at medium. Necessary travel to the West Bank and Gaza rated at high security and travel risk remains acceptable with appropriate security planning and management."

Control Risks Group did not dispute the State Department warning on Jordan. Earlier, the U.S. embassy in Amman also issued a travel warning for Jordan. The embassy asserted that terrorist groups were threatening to use chemical weapons against U.S. interests.

The U.S. warning came after Jordanian state television broadcast a confession by Islamic insurgents who described plans to launch a CW attack in Amman. The State Department said Jordan was not known to have indigenous terrorist groups, but has been targeted by Al Qaida.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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