US gauging threat after bin Laden killed

Cayman hotels monitoring travel

Although the United States has concerns that al-Qaida will retaliate after US commandos killed Osama bin Laden, there have been no instructions to increase security on flights coming from or going to America.

The Department of State released a statement on Sunday, 1 May, that US citizens travelling and residing abroad should be alert to anti-American violence in sensitive areas and that its government facilities worldwide remained on a heightened state of alert.

An official at the US Transportation Security Administration told the Compass on Monday that the situation is being monitored.

“The Transportation Security Administration continually evaluates the latest threats and screening measures which are implemented based on the latest intelligence. As always, passengers may notice a variety of security measures at US airports to include the use of explosives detection technology, physical bag checks, random gate screening, canine teams and behaviour detection officers,” the official said. “We ask the travelling public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the authorities.”

A statement by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said efforts to combat terrorism do not fixate on one individual and that the department remains focused on protecting America against extremism.

“We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, but the Department of Homeland Security does not intend to issue an [National Terrorism Advisory System] alert at this time. I have been clear since announcing [National Terrorism Advisory System] in January that we will only issue alerts when we have specific or credible information to convey to the American public.

“However, our security posture, which always includes a number of measures both seen and unseen, will continue to respond appropriately to protect the American people from an evolving threat picture both in the coming days and beyond,” said Ms Napolitano.

The National Terrorism Advisory System is based on a concise summary of potential threats, including geographic region, mode of transportation and steps being taken to ensure safety. The system was developed by a variety of federal, state, local, tribal and private sector partners and introduced on 20 April, 2011.

Hoteliers circumspect

Cayman’s hoteliers were circumspect about the potential impact on tourism numbers and were following the situation as it developed.

“We have not seen any unusual behaviour as of yet, no cancellations so far have been reported,” said Laura Skec of Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort. “I think that through the week we may see how this news will impact us.”

The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman reported that there had been no sign of cancellations Monday driven by the news.

“Our pickup over the weekend, particularly for the next 30 days, was quite strong,” said Melissa Ladley, communications director.

Paul Robinson, marketing director of The Reef, was in Memphis when contacted by the Compass. Mr. Robinson said he had received no reports of problems due to bin Laden’s death.

“Americans seem to be on a bi-partisian high today,” he said. “Bush, the Republican president said ‘we would not rest until we get bin Laden’, and Obama, a Democrat, finished the job.

“Unless something happens, I don’t anticipate a big reaction from the American public. Americans are determined not to show fear and let the ‘Middle Eastern thugs’ affect their lives. The American Muslim community seems to be as relieved as everyone else that Osama is gone. Maybe now we can enjoy better relations all the way round,” he said.