Expatriates abroad targeted by terrorists?

Expatriates abroad are occasionally targeted by terrorists. Most keep abreast of international events and an eye out for cautionary warnings or evacuation advisories issued by home governments. Generally, however, those living abroad try not to think of the risk otherwise, as one expat noted, she’d “…never leave the house.”

A lady from Utah said she didn’t used to be scared when living with terror all over the world: from London, where they still don’t have garbage cans in the subway stations (in case of explosives), to Costa Rica, where armed guards patrolled the airport, the college (later bombed) and even the beach. But since she’s had children, she admits to having become increasingly vigilant and much more political.

In Northern Ireland where acts of terrorism occur almost daily, a US citizen says: “At the end of the day, you just have to get on with it. I’m all too aware that the risk is there, but I think the fear of a potential terrorist attack is to be resisted at all costs. If you give in to the fear, you might as well go live on a remote desert island and I’m not willing to do that.”

No one is immune to terrorism anymore as the tragedy of September 11 proves, but expatriates carry an extra burden of awareness that they – and their children – make for easy targets. When international schools started closing their doors after the October 2002 Bali bombing, it was a measure aligned with the US State Department warning “…that terror groups were capable of striking US citizens in “soft targets” such as clubs, restaurants, hotels and beaches”.

Perhaps in future foreign residents will, instead of congregating in conspicuous expat spots en masse, live scattered amidst the villages and towns of their adopted countries. Not only will they be more difficult to target as a group, but they’ll per force become closer to the nationals, learn their neighbors’ culture, language and customs. And isn’t that lifestyle, all-embracing and inherently peaceful, exactly what being an expatriate is all about?