Global Security Forecast • Week 51 • 21 – 27 DECEMBER 2018

UNITED KINGDOM: Gatwick Airport, London –  Anticipate disruption; flight delays at Gatwick following drone activity near runway. Gatwick has reopened its runway and a limited number of planes have been allowed to arrive and depart after the authorities implemented a 36-hour suspension of flights after a drone was sighted near one of the runways.  Despite the airport reopening over 100 flights are expected to be cancelled in the next 24 hours, with both planes and crews out of place.  Over 126,000 people were meant to depart from Gatwick yesterday which will likely create a backlog of passengers needing to access different flights and delays at check-in desks throughout the airport.  Local authorities believe the drone activity may have been a deliberate attempt to disrupt air traffic during one of the busiest times of year.  The drone was first spotted at 21.00 on 19 December and was continually sighted over the next 24 hours with the last sighting being late on 20 December.  Please see our recent Christmas and Winter Travel Advisory for more information on what to do during seasonal flight delays. ADVICE: Widespread disruption is expected at Gatwick over the next 48 hours as flight operators seek to clear the backlog of passengers. Those expecting to depart from Gatwick should contact their operator to reconfirm the current status of their flight.  Passengers should also check-in online as soon as possible and arrive to the airport early to prevent your seat being from being reassigned to a standby passenger. DRC: Kinshasa; urban centres (Country: HIGH; Civil Unrest: SEVERE) – Presidential election postponed until 30 December. Anticipate unrest; associated clashes.  Defer non-critical travel. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has delayed the Presidential Election until 30 December citing a shortfall of electronic voting machines in the capital Kinshasa.  The announcement comes following a suspected arson attack on 13 December that destroyed 8,000 electronic voting machines, roughly two-third of the number required for voting in the capital city. Over the next week CENI will now attempt to move electronic voting machines from other parts of the country to make up the shortfall in Kinshasa and will need to replace five million ballots that were also lost in the fire. The latest delay is likely to create further unrest in the coming days as opposition groups voice their anger over the repeated delays to an election that was meant to take place in 2016.   Protests broke out in Kinshasa near the main university following the announcement of the postponement on 20 December leading to clashes with security forces as they attempted to disperse the demonstrators. The December campaign period has been marred by clashes between opposition supporters and security forces with reports that the military have used live ammunition in an attempt to disperse political rallies in opposition held areas of the country leading to dozens of deaths.  Campaigning has been banned in Kinshasa over fears of related violence.   See our latest Travel Advisory for more information. ADVICE: Defer all travel to the DRC till after the election cycle. For those already in country, minimise movements in major urban centres between 29 December – 1 January and stay up to date with planned political demonstrations in your area. If you are in country, ensure that you are in, secure, compound-based accommodation over the election period.  Monitor Solace Global alerts for further details. PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES (WEST BANK): Ramallah; West Bank – Anticipate unrest; increased security following recent escalation in attacks. Travellers in the West Bank should exercise caution and anticipate heightened security following the recent increase in violence between Palestinians and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).  Tensions increased throughout the region after two Israeli soldiers were killed at a checkpoint in a drive by shooting near the Israeli settlement Ofra, to the east of Ramallah, on 13 December.  In response to the shooting the IDF temporarily closed access to Ramallah, declaring it a military zone and launching raids into the city to find the perpetrators of the attacks.  Four Palestinians were killed following Israeli operations in the West Bank.  On 20 December a Palestinian was killed after Israeli soldiers opened fire on vehicle at Beit El Military road block north of Ramallah.  The recent escalation in tensions between the two groups is likely to cause further incidents and security operations.  Movement restrictions are likely in the coming days. ADVICE: Travellers in the West Bank should exercise addition caution over the current period and minimise time spent at military checkpoints or near Israeli settlements.  An increased security presence is likely in border regions between Israel and the West Bank and delays should be expected at check points.     Always carry your travel documentation with you as well as photographic ID to minimise delays. MAURITIUS: Countrywide (Country: LOW; Environmental: MODERATE) – Tropical Cyclone Cilida due to make landfall on 22 December; heavy rainfall and flooding possible. Tropical Cyclone Cilida is forecast to make landfall on 22 December on the Island of Mauritius in the southern Indian Ocean.  The cyclone, which is expected to reach an intensity equivalent to a category 4 hurricane (Saffir-Simpson scale), will result in wind speeds up to 240 kmph (150 mph) as it passes the eastern shoreline of the Island.  Heavy rain and strong winds have been forecast as well as the possibility of storm surges on the eastern coastal areas of the Island.  Travel disruption, including flight cancellations, remains possible during the tropical storm and travellers in or transiting to Mauritius should monitor developments over the coming days and reconfirm their travel schedule. ADVICE: Travellers due to fly from Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport (MRU) should reconfirm itinerates with their airline.  In the event of cancellations, your travel provider will be able to support with additional arrangements.  Roads may become impassable due to flooding, check the status of routes before setting out on journeys.   Strong winds could bring down electricity pylons and basic preparations should be made in the event of a sustained power outage.  Monitor Solace Global alerts for further updates. SPAIN: Barcelona – Anticipate travel disruption; further protests following anti-government demonstrations on 21 December A series of protests broke out in Barcelona following the decision by the Spanish cabinet to hold their weekly meeting in Barcelona.  Demonstrators blocked major highways leading to the city causing severe travel disruption on 21 December. The protests were quickly organised by pro-secessionist parties who see the government decision to hold the weekly meeting in Barcelona as both provocative and detrimental to their hopes for Catalonian succession from Spain.  Local media reported on clashes between security forces and protesters on some major routes into the city as security forces attempt to disperse the protesters. ADVICE: Heightened security measures and significant traffic disruption is expected on 21 December. Further protests are likely over the weekend leading to localised travel disruption.  Confirm the status of routes before setting out on road journeys.   Avoid all protests as a precaution. Monitor Solace Global alerts for further updates.

Global Headlines: 14 – 20 December 2018

MOROCCO: Imlil (Marrakesh-Safi region) – Two foreign nationals found dead near Atlas Mountains in potential terrorist attack Four men have been arrested on terrorism charges after the bodies of two Scandinavian tourist were discovered on 17 December 10 km (6mi) from the remote village of Imlil (Marrakesh-Safi region) in the Atlas Mountains.  A video was released on social media purported showing one of the victims being killed by the men. A spokesperson for Morocco’s General Prosecutor announced on 20 December that the four men who have been detained had recorded a video pledging allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) a week before the bodies were discovered.  This is the first terrorism related incident to occur outside Morocco’s urban areas. The two female tourists, from Denmark and Norway, had been on a hiking holiday in the Atlas Mountains. Attacks on tourists remain incredibly rare in Morocco, which has become a popular tourist destination with European travellers.  The last known terrorist attack occurred in 2011 when a bomb was planted in a café popular with tourists and expatriates, killing 17 including 11 Europeans. That said, the country continues to host Islamic extremist elements with thousands of Moroccans believed to have travelled to join IS in Syria in recent years. The repatriation of these fighters, following the fall of IS self-proclaimed caliphate, has placed additional pressure on Morocco’s counter terrorism agencies and an increase in small-scale extremist attacks remains possible.  Both Denmark and Norway have issued travel warnings to their citizens following the attack. ADVICE: Travellers should exercise enhanced vigilance when travelling to Morocco, report any suspicious behaviour or packages to the local authorities and minimise time spent in the vicinity of potential terrorist targets (government buildings, tourist destinations, security check points). If visiting a rural part of the country, make sure you have suitable communication equipment and check-in regularly with a home contact.  Monitor Solace Global alerts for further updates. TUNISIA: Sidi Bouzid province – Sidi Bouzid province: Security operation dismantles terror cell planning attacks on Tunisian security forces Tunisian Security officials announced on 19 December that it had detained eight individuals in Sidi Bouzid province who were part of an extremist cell with ties to a transnational terrorist organisation.  The announcement comes weeks after 12 individuals were arrested in connection with the suicide bombing that occurred on Avenue Habib Gourguiba in the capital, Tunis on October 26 wounding 26 people and killing the bomber.  An interior ministry spokesperson told local media that all 12 had links to the Islamic State (IS). The attack in October was the first terrorist attack to occur in Tunisia since 2015 when the government-imposed strict counterterrorism reforms, improving the security environment in major cities. The latest development highlights the possibility of increased terrorist activity within Tunisia but also the capability of Tunisian security forces in identifying and disrupting terrorist activity throughout the country.  Further security operations remain likely in the coming weeks and an increased security presence should be expected in major cities and near potential targets for attack (tourist sites, government buildings, transport hubs).  Read our latest Travel Advisory on the increased threat of terrorism in Tunisia. ADVICE: While travel to Tunisia remains possible, enhanced precaution should be considered prior to travel.  Travellers should minimise time spent near potential target sites and refrain from travelling to tourist sites at peak hours.  Minimise movement on foot after dark and maintain a varied routine while in country.  Additionally, remain vigilant to the threat posed by terrorism and report any suspicious behaviour to the authorities. GREECE: Athens – Explosive device detonates at media group headquarters on 18 December, no casualties reported A makeshift explosive device detonated near the headquarters of Greek non-state media group SKAI in the early hours of 17 December, causing extensive damage to the building.  The explosion, which occurred at 2.37am, was described by local media as especially powerful causing damage as high as the sixth floor.  A warning call was made to two media companies 45 minutes before the explosion which allowed both buildings to successfully evacuate before the detonation.  A spokesperson for the Greek anti-terror police announced that 10 kg of explosives had been packed into a rucksack and placed by a roadside barrier immediately outside the building before being remotely detonated.  No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.  A day later the Athens Court of Appeals was evacuated following an anonymous phone call warning of an explosive device being place near the building.  The call was later determined to be a hoax but caused significant disruption as security forces investigated the incident. Targeted political bombings are becoming more frequent in Athens and the attack on media headquarters bore similarities to a bombing that occurred near the Athens Court of Appeals on 21 December 2017 that was claimed by the far-left Group of Popular Fighters who claimed to be targeting the corrupt judicial system.  On 13 November 2018 an improvised explosive device was defused outside the home of the Supreme Court deputy prosecutor.  The bomb had been hidden in motorcycle outside the prosecutor’s home.  Police were alerting to the potential of an IED after an anonymous call was made to the main Athens police station giving the address of the deputy prosecutor.  Small scale IED are likely to continue due the volatile political environment currently dominating Athens, leading to travel disruption. ADVICE: Travellers in Athens should always maintain situational awareness, minimising time spent near government or judicial buildings.  In the event that you are in a building when an alarm sounds, immediately evacuate the building and follow all advise issued by local authorities.  Bomb threats are likely to cause localised disruption in areas of central Athens and in the event of an evacuation plan routes avoiding the area.  Monitor Solace Global alerts for further updates.

Significant Dates and Events

Date Country Event Potential for Violence
22 Dec Iraq Provincial elections HIGH
30 Dec DRC Presidential, legislative, regional and local elections SEVERE
30 Dec Bangladesh Parliamentary elections HIGH
31 Dec Guinea-Bissau Legislative elections MODERATE
TBC Jan Guinea Legislative elections MODERATE
8 Jan Puntland (Somalia) Regional elections MODERATE
1 Feb Senegal Presidential elections MODERATE
3 Feb El Salvador Presidential elections HIGH
16 Feb Nigeria Presidential and Legislative elections HIGH
24 Feb Cuba Referendum LOW
24 Feb Moldova Legislative elections MODERATE
TBC Feb Thailand Legislative elections MODERATE

Click the following link to download this report as a PDF: Global Forecast Week 51 The Global Security Forecast highlights what travel security managers should look out for over the next week while also providing advice following significant events from the last week. The Global Security Forecast was compiled by Solace Global’s in-house intelligence team.