External Article28 November 2008
Still soft targets
Luxury hotels provide terrorists with a focus for resentment – and an easy way to get at foreigners | guardian.co.uk
Hotels often feature in terrorist attacks. In the last 12 months we have seen strikes in Mumbai, Islamabad and Kabul all directed at large luxury hotels. Various elements come together to make them targets that are attractive to militants.
Firstly, they are accessible. Few of the major hotels in city centres were built with security in mind. Many date from the 1970s and were intentionally built to be prominent and accessible social spaces – often in traditional, family-based societies where such locations were few and far between – in the centre of major cities. The aim, at least in part, was to offer new local elites a portal into a global, jet-setting luxury world. Even more recent constructions such as the two Serena hotels in Kabul and Islamabad are now being hastily retro-fitted with more protection. Hotels are now becoming as protected as embassies. Ringed by blast walls, security men, sometimes barbed wire, they too are becoming fortified outposts of a foreign culture in what is at least perceived to be a dangerous land. The two hotels in Mumbai were soft targets. No doubt now they too will be "secured".
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