The death of Osama Bin Laden does not conclude the global threat of terrorism but in many instances it will trigger a new wave or business travel threats. If you want to know more on how the killing of Osama Bin Laden will affect business travel then you need to read this article. This article will identify the major delays, disruptions, risks and threats to business travel as a result of this high profile leader’s death. By the end of the article you will know the key issues affecting business travel as a result and be able to identify the primary areas for travel planning and risk management focus.
Bin Laden’s Death
The death of Osama will no more signal the collapse and conclusion of global terrorist events than if the CEO or chairman of a major multi-national were to die also. Global and local terrorism threats are made up of networks, many redundant and independent of any one single point of leadership. Standing Armies, Air Forces and Navies are also constructed along such lines. Would the death of a General bring an Army to a halt? Not likely. Therefore, while being a major news and emotional event for many it will have little to no effect on the command and control of sympathetic terrorist groups. It will embolden some to act, rally to the cause and even further elevate Bin Laden as an icon for their actions, much the same as Che Guevara has evolved as the face of freedom fighters the world over.
Terrorism remains a minor threat to business travel based on the volume of travel and those affected. The responsibility and duty to combat such a threat still remains within the government realm and not that of corporate entities although they do need to be aware of developments and capabilities for local governments to combat or prevent attacks to ensure their travellers do not become targets or affected. Business travellers will still be more likely to be affected by delays, disruptions and threats from more routine and frequent issues such as motor vehicle accidents, illness, airline disputes and bad weather.
The Real Threat to Business Travel
The real threat to business travellers in the wake of the death of Bin Laden will be the subsequent response by the global aviation security and government intelligence agencies. Most will view this result as a success but also be immediately focused on the potential for reprisal. Many individuals and groups are already in the advanced stages of planned attacks but others may rush to action and attack in support of Al Qaeda or Islamic extremists. Their single-minded attention on these issues will result in greater inconsistencies, delays and threats to business travellers.
Airports will become even more unpredictable as to what and how security measures are implemented and changes are all but guaranteed. These changes will further disrupt the efficiency and flow of check-in, boarding, screening, arrivals and departures. However, the effects and approach will not be universal nor predictable to the average traveller and delays, disruptions and missed flights will results and further impact the effectiveness and efficiency of business travel. Company risk and security managers may also be on a hair-trigger and cease, suspend or defer business travel until they get “more information” on the situation, further compounding the issue. If history is any indication, any minor or major incident in the coming weeks and months will result in knee-jerk security treatment solutions that impact more travellers than it prevents terrorists.
Profiling and heightened security measures will be applied to specific ethnic groups, nationalities and those traveling through identified travel corridors. Once again this will be inaccurate, inconsistent and opaque to the majority of travellers who will suffer the wider effects and possibly even personal effects of such changes. Those traveling from the Middle East, of Pakistani ethnicity, Muslims, single males, those with beards, women in burkas, travellers with no check-in luggage, those paying by cash or even those that “act funny” at the airport will all draw the attention of someone who is looking at reasons why someone poses a threat or could jeopardize air safety and security, therefore requires interception.
The world is no safer or riskier than it was the day before Osama Bin Laden was killed. The subsequent actions and reactions following his death however will impact the landscape in which business travellers journey through. Hopefully it will be short-term but should we see the slightest hint of threat or reports from the government agencies then we are all likely to be subjected to greater delay, disruption and risk due to this relatively low level threat. Osama’s death will not signify the end of terrorism, business travellers need to remember there is continued and greater threat from the more routine, airport security will have it’s ups and down in the coming weeks/months and the color of your skin, accent, religion and point of origin will all play a role on how you are viewed by the various security agencies.