We have looked at hundreds of case studies of people who were targeted by criminals, terrorists, kidnappers, and traffickers while traveling abroad because of their affluence, religious affiliation, their sexual orientation, or their political leanings. It does not matter if you are right or left leaning or if you have an agenda or not. Your own arrogance or ambivalence are your worst enemies. Have you ever heard of the “Ugly American”? It is often said that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but in travel security the loud, flamboyant, and clueless traveler becomes the victim.
Our societal norms in 2019 western society are not shared throughout the world. We have gone to great lengths to be a tolerant society that ensures the pursuit of life, of liberty, and of happiness. Our society and constitution protect the rights of everyone regardless of race, creed, national origin, of sexual orientation. Our society rallies to support all to whom we perceive an injustice is done, as we lash out on social media, on TV, and the newspapers. The sad reality is that this perspective is not shared by most of the world.
In many parts of the world, Sharia Law is the predominant form of law and is strictly upheld regardless of citizenship. If you are in their country, you are obligated to follow their laws. Some of the biggest things that land westerners in jail or get them targeted are often caused by arrogance and ambivalence. An American woman who refuses to cover her hair or wear something over her T-shirt, or a homosexual couple who insists on displaying their sexual orientation in public are two examples which have caused detention. In several cases such westerners were targeted for kidnapping or other criminal activity. We can share many other stories of westerners being targeted because of their religious apparel, passports, and politically oriented clothing.
Eastern Europe, Russia, and some Asian countries operate similarly. While they are not governed by Sharia Law, their views and laws are equally restrictive. Being an American does not make you special there and standing out will make you a target faster than you can say the word kidnapped. You will make the situation worse for yourself if you flaunt your affluence, stand out, and believe you are above local law or local customs.
We teach people to be grey as they travel. Your being grey simple means that you do everything you can to blend in. The principles are simple:
- Dress modestly in earth tone colors, and avoid western logos, political or religious identifiers, or other controversial identifiers and logos.
- Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or anything else that might display affluence
- Avoid wearing your religious jewelry or other religious items to the greatest extent possible. If you must wear it, conceal it to adhere to your customs without standing out.
- Learn phrases in the target language such as please, thank you, where is the bathroom, and excuse me.
- Avoid handing out business cards that demonstrate your affluence. Phrases such as CEO, CFO, COO, Executive, Director, or Doctor handed to the wrong person will accelerate your targeting.
- Don’t wear you “Make America Great Again” hat or your “Yes We Can” t-shirt.
- Avoid flashing your passport, and be cognizant on where you have traveled. There are some visas and entrance stamps that will accelerate your targeting. Do your homework.
The best thing you can do to ensure your security is to blend in and be grey. The worst thing you can do is believe that others share your standards and values. We at Captive Audience PTRT want you to travel safely, and come home with enjoyable pictures, memories, and stories. If you attend one of our Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival Courses, we will train you to have situational awareness and to be the epitome of the wise and seasoned traveler.