Not all cruise ship passengers are hoping for a nice holiday. According to Interpol, would-be jihadists are now using cruise ships as a way of eventually getting to Iraq and Syria. The mode of transportation allows them to both avoid more tightly monitored airports and hop off at any number of ports, making them more difficult to track, the BBC reports. Interpol's outgoing chief specifies that Turkey was a destination for militants, noting the issue was spotted in the "past three months or so." He gives no estimation of how many potential jihadists have traveled this way and calls on authorities to check all passengers using airports "and, more and more, cruise lines."
Turkey's coastal town of Izmit has seen a lot of action in particular, Interpol's director of counterterrorism says. He tells the AP that some would-be jihadists in Europe have actually driven to the Syrian border, and he frames the issue as a "global threat—15,000 fighters or more from 81 countries traveling to one specific conflict zone." Authorities hope a pilot program known as I-Checkit—in which airlines screen passengers against Interpol's global database—might eventually be used by cruise lines, banks, and hotels. A Cruise Lines International Association director says "cruise lines take security as seriously as the airlines," and American cruise lines share passenger lists with authorities, "who check against official databases."