FORMER Beirut hostage John McCarthy has warned British
travellers are increasingly at risk of kidnap as a result of the UK
Government’s role in the Iraq war.

McCarthy, due to speak about his experiences at the Advantage
Business Travel conference in October, told the consortium’s
bosses at a briefing this week the UK’s role in the coalition
has left British people targets for terrorist attacks.

“The threat of kidnap is getting worse because of what we are
doing in Iraq,” said McCarthy. “British people are a target because
we are assisting the Americans.

“Instead of calming the situation down after the September 11
terrorist attacks, the invasion of Iraq has made it much more
volatile and has left us as targets, alongside the Americans.”

McCarthy, who spent five years in captivity at the hands of
Islamic Jihad kidnappers between 1986 and 1991, said the
“phenomenal effect” of September 11 had been to establish powerful
terrorist threats anywhere in the world, not just “known
black-hole” areas like Beirut in the 1980s.

“Terrorists can strike anywhere in this day and age, which
probably makes London just as dangerous as somewhere more exotic,”
he warned.

He told travellers today to “be wary”, but said the chances of
being a victim of a terrorist attack were slight.

McCarthy, who continues to work as a broadcaster and writer, is
the keynote speaker at the Advantage conference on October 11-12 in
Copenhagen. Around 200 delegates are due to attend, including 75
suppliers.

He said he hoped his story would be a positive “advertisement”
for travelling as he has continued to travel around the world since
his ordeal, including returning to Beirut for the first time this
year.

Advantage director of business travel Norman Gage said
recruiting McCarthy reflected the conference’s theme,
‘The Bigger Picture’.

“The conference is about inspiring people,” Gage said.

Other speakers include Guild of Business Travel Agents chairman
Richard Lovell and lifestyle consultant Christina Griffiths.

Delegates can register for the event at www.advantage4businessconference.com