“Security among many risks for Dakar rally racers,” from Reuters, with thanks to Kemaste:
DAKAR, Senegal – Ronn Bailey is a computer security expert but he will be worrying more about low-tech threats when he takes part in the 5,000-mile Dakar rally, considered the world’s premier off-road race.
Like all the participants, the American millionaire adventurer is well aware that two stages of the 2004 rally were canceled because of a planned attack by Islamic militants.
This month authorities in Mauritania said they had arrested a man with links to al Qaeda who was planning to attack Americans taking part in the 2005 rally, which begins this New Year’s Eve in Barcelona and ends in Dakar on Jan. 16.
Wire taps revealed the suspect was in touch with people connected to Osama Bin Laden’s network in Saudi Arabia, according to officials in the Muslim West African country which is due to host six stages of the ultimate off-road rally.
The U.S. Embassy has issued a note telling all Americans involved in the rally to exercise “special caution.”
Bailey and his team, Vanguard Racing, have also been advised not to display any American flags or symbols on their custom-built vehicle.
“So we’re not doing anything of that nature – we’re not painting any bullseyes on our car,” Bailey joked in a telephone interview from his staging base in Paris last week.
But the first-time Dakar participant knows the risks he runs could be serious. The final document he signed before leaving the United States was his last will and testament.
“There’s a possibility that something could happen and I just considered it to be proper to put the right things in place so that it wouldn’t be such a burden on my family and on my employees if something should happen,” he explained.