From 2004, jihadist militants have started to show an increase of interest to target international hotels, especially in Middle East, East and South Asia and Africa. What has occurred last Friday in Mali, when Islamic militants storm the Radisson Hotel in Bamako, Mali is just another exemple of this trend.
International hotels in those regions are the quintessence of the soft targets for militants attempting to slaughter as many people as they can and benefit international media coverage without having to break through the extreme security of a hard target like a modern embassy or a local government building. It is a rich-target environment, full of international business travellers, journalists, members of international organisation, and even intelligence officers. The casualties could also include local government members and wealthy corrupted natives. An International hotel is also a window of the western culture. This is the kind of premise where men and women mix freely, drink alcohol and dance, gather round the swimming pool barely dressed, and committed adultery obviously.
Unlike an embassy, a hotel is commercial premise intending to make money. This is the reason why even in the wake of recent hotel attacks, some hotel directors have been reluctant to enhance security measures – identity checking upon entry, luggage screening, extensive standoff areas, etc. – to do not risk to avoid upsetting the customers, seeing this measures as inconveniences and feeling in a fortress or a bunker, but no more in a glamorous five-star palace in an exotic place. Moreover, it could also be difficult to justify millions of dollars of investment security when the risk cannot be quantified.
We can fully assess hotels will continue to be amongst the most favourite targets for Islamist militants seeking to strike the Western countries and their allies. There is no reason to doubt militants are at this moment assessing other international for future dreadful attacks.
Hotel customers should not only rely on the hotel managers to insure their security. They need to adopt the required situational awareness and know how to mitigate the risks.