The biggest threat to future DXpeditions is….

Posted: October 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


The spread of Islamic Terrorism is the biggest threat to DXpeditions of the future.

I often find myself thinking about the future. What kind of world will my children inherit? What will the future be like? What about the future of this great hobby of Amateur Radio and DXing? What does the future hold? What are the challenges ahead and how will we solve them?

Raising enough money to bring a team to a remote and rare destination has been and will always be a challenge. When a large part of the world’s economy is slipping into recession there is considerably less “hobby” money available to support these endeavors. This is understandable and is part of life’s priorities for many of us.

As one of few Americans who has travelled to Sudan, Egypt, South Sudan, Yemen, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Turkey and Iran among many other places all on my own, I have experienced many aspects of Islam in my travels. I have experienced the wonderful graciousness and hospitality that is a big part of the Islamic faith. I have enjoyed the friendly invitations to tour the great Mosques of these lands. I love the tradition of afternoon tea or drinking tea together during any kind of negotiation. I have friends in the Islamic world that are as warm, friendly and gracious as anyone on earth.

I have thought about this problem a lot. I feel that the greatest risk to DXing and Dxpeditions is the spread of Islamic Terrorism and radical Islam.


Radical Islam has spread throughout the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Asia. It has simply made some of the places that one could safely visit and operate from in the past too dangerous and risky to visit today. Less than a decade ago, Germans and Americans were part of the 5A7A team in Libya. They could not do so today. Radical Islam in the form of ISIS makes Libya unsafe to visit for this purpose.


Christian hostages in Libya about to be beheaded.


QSL card for the April 2008 YK9G DXpedition from Damascus, Syria.

In April, 2008 eight UK Dxpeditioners activated Syria as YK9G. They had the support and cooperation of the Syrian Government and they could walk freely throughout Damascus. Something that could not be done today.

In April 2010, I organized the YI9PSE Dxpedition operating from Erbil Iraq. This was a safe and friendly area at the time. While it is still under the control of the very friendly Kurds, ISIS is making regular attacks on the border of Erbil and seized neighboring Mosul over a year ago.


QSL for the 2010 YI9PSE DXpedition to Erbil, Iraq.

Car bombs and suicide bombings are now taking place in Erbil which makes it unsafe to bring a Dxpedition team. There was a time when foreigners could easily visit and work in Afghanistan but no longer.


Eight South African airline workers were killed in this suicide attack of their hotel shuttle van in Kabul.

The Taliban reaches into all aspects of life in the countryside and most areas of Kabul. In 2011, I aborted our plans to activate Kabul Afghanistan as T6PSE. Our team member, James McLaughlin T6AF was killed by a radicalized Afghan Air Force officer just two days before our planned arrival.


The 2011 Taliban attack of the Kabul Hotel Intercontinental.

We knew we made the right decision when our Dxpedition venue, the Kabul Hotel Intercontinental was blown up and burned just weeks later.


In 2011, I brought a team to activate the new entity of the Republic of South Sudan. This was an international team operating for 21 days. In the capitol of Jubba, we were more than 200 miles from border fighting. That fighting has now included Jubba and it would not be safe or prudent to bring a Dxpedition group to South Sudan.

In 2012, I was honored to be a part of the 7O6T team in Yemen. I had the pleasure of spending several days exploring the ancient capital of Sana. We strolled in relatively safety and received warm greetings from the Yemenis. Just as we were leaving Sana, there was a terrorist bombing at the police training center in Sana. Now foreign visitors face the risk of being kidnapped for ransom to support the many factions fighting for control of Yemen. This past year in Sana, a French Development Worker, a Japanese Engineer and a German Diplomat were all kidnapped for ransom in the Capitol of Yemen by various Al-Qaida factions.


I have visited Turkey a handful of times, usually on my way to or from a Dxpedition in Africa or the Middle East. On October 10th at 10:04 local time in Ankara, the capital city of Turkey, two bombs detonated outside the entrance of the Central railway station. At least 105 people were killed. It is believed that ISIS may be responsible for this terrorist event.


Another major risk when visiting these regions is kidnapping for ransom. Danish photographer Daniel Ottosen is now telling of his experience as an ISIS hostage. His family paid a ransom of $3.2 million dollars in June and he was released. He had been held with American photographer David Foley and other hostages who were not so fortunate. American journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines, British taxi driver Alan Henning and American aid worker Peter Kassig along with David Foley were all beheaded on ISIS videos.

In Nigeria, Boko Haram is a form of Islamic Terrorism.


Boko Haram is an Islamic extremist group based in northeastern Nigeria.

Boko Haram was founded in 2002 and has caused uprisings displacing over 2.3 million people. Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people since 2009. The group carries out mass abductions including the kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in April 2014. Since 2014, they control major parts of Nigeria.


Radical Islam has made a large part of the world very dangerous for anyone to visit. This serves to block off vast areas from potential Dxpedition activity. It may be many years if or when amateur radio may resume in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan or Iraq. As I write this, young Palestinians are attacking non Muslim tourists, citizens and police in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.


This is the area of the planned Caliphate.

What do you think?

  1. Rick WA6NHC says:

    Radical ANYTHING is a detriment to mankind. I’ve long believed that extremist anything only marks the fringes of humanity and that somewhere between the extremes is “THE TRUTH”.

    ISIS is clearly a threat to the entire world, because they lack any sense of propriety; they know no bounds or limits, intruding where they wish when most of the world realizes where things should stop. They lack the morality of most of the world.

    It isn’t entirely about Islam, but is taking much of what is in the Koran as the central point of their personal philosophies. That is an argument for another media, not here. I am not a religious scholar and naturally I have my own beliefs. I do not want Sharia law, it offends me.

    It is up to the rest of the world to slap all extremists down (generally means to kill them, creating martyrs but at least they’re DEAD martyrs), regardless of which fringe they’re on or humanity as a whole will otherwise suffer. Sadly, many governments lack the will to do this, including ours, for fear of being seen as ‘world cops’ or an even larger threat than the extremist groups. It is a slippery slope argument that results in nothing being done, so the extremist groups prosper. Deciding where the limits are is at best another slippery slope and should be decided by a group of nations, not just one (forget United Nations, it’s a waste of energy, money and space; think in NATO terms, specific goals and the will to make gains).

    My view is simplistic… grow a large set (stop being afraid) and take them on; jump in hard with both feet, finish the task. When the threats dissipate, if they ever do, then stand down to being merely watchful and prepared. It teaches a lesson to the extremist groups (and other nations); don’t mess around or your death will be the result. AKA: Be the biggest badass on the block, no one screws with you.

  2. John Kramer says:

    Fotunately Putin has stepped up to the plate to rid Syria of the scourge, called ISIS IS or ISIL. Let’s hope he doesn’t stop with Syria, but continues to rid the world of these extremists. I hope the entire world stands together to wipe them out, because it is a global threat affecting everyone. I hope the USA and China could stand together on this issue. It would be swift and easy to destroy them if all major world leaders got over their macho image, and stood together.
    But….there is so much propaganda on the Internet, that it’s easy to be fooled. We hear what a marvelous job Russia is doing in Syria, but is that merely to protect Assad ? Would they continue to defeat all of terrorism ? From what I have read, it appears Russia is doing what the USA has failed to do. Putin appears to have the required pair, whereas Obama appears neutered. I don’t know if I trust Russia…..but as things appear for now, he is our hero.

    • n6pse says:

      Putin is many things however he is not a Hero.

      • Chris NU1O says:

        I don’t know how anybody from the West could call Putin a hero.

        If he takes Syria does anybody think he’s going to let those local people rule their own land? If he’s successful will he stop with Syria? The answer to both questions is NO.

        Make no mistake, Putin is a threat to the US and any Western styled Democracy.

        For over half a century all US presidents maintained a unified policy to contain the USSR. Some were better than others but I never doubted their commitment. I’m glad our current president wasn’t Commander-in-Chief during the Cold War and I’m glad he’ll only be in office for another15 months.

        Sven, DL3SG, your English is fine and I agree with your comments about those who support or belong to ISIS.

  3. W2IRT says:

    I would have to agree. Nothing will change until the attitude in Washington, DC changes. The Islamic State is no less a threat to global stability and peace than the Nazi regime was during the Second World War, and as their threat grows, the risk of another global conflict becomes increasingly possible. I never liked the idea of this nation being the world’s police, but there’s really no other option when your opponent is afraid of nothing or no one. They cannot be handled with kid gloves; the only way to stop them is to be even more ruthless than they are.

    It’s far more difficult to wage war against an idea than it is to do so against a state, and how a determined coalition could prosecute such a conflict and have a solid exit strategy is above my pay grade, alas. But I fear that a united, global show of force on a scale not seen since 1945 may quickly be the only possibility for resolving this horrid issue. And while I hope that doesn’t happen and saner heads can prevail, I don’t think history will back that avenue.

    We as DXers will have to be satisfied with working the remaining active amateurs who live within the region. Thanks to Paul’s Herculean efforts, and those various servicemen operating in Iraq and Afghanistan the past decade, there have been enough activations of most of these hot spots to carry us through a decade or more of hostilities. 5A7A, EP6T, YO6T, YI9PSE, etc have thankfully dropped those entities far down the most wanted list.

  4. Rick WA6NHC says:

    Putin worries me. Remember where he came from; in the bad old days. Yes he has a pair but how will he use them? The Ukraine is merely one example of expansionism, just like the old days. What is his end game? I watched him on 60 Minutes last week and he was clearly bold faced lying; wheels within wheels within wheels. What are his limits?

    Work em first, worry later still applies, but things will be more challenging for us and the folks wanting to open up the rare ones (P5 being the prime example). Getting there is only the first challenge. Being safe WHILE there (not being kidnapped for ransom) and getting out have become serious concerns.

    I don’t want us to be the world cops either, but … much (multiple millions) of the rest of the world, has NO choice in how they live. They’re controlled by errant governments, religions or fanatic manipulators and don’t have any voice; which we assume is a basic human right. Those who can, should help. There aren’t a lot of options for nations other than march in and kick ass, which has it’s own sets of risks because it isn’t a clear target, which is the new paradigm.

    It isn’t quite like 1941, it’s more like fighting a cancer which spreads all over the body. If it isn’t fought on a global front, it wins. That doesn’t bode well for humanity, DXer or not.

    • Paul, N5PG says:

      As we know, Putin was KGB, they used to recruit many of the brightest. As for Ukraine, he warned for years that NATO/EU should leave it as a buffer zone but the EU pushed to expand into Ukraine – with predictable results.

  5. Paul, N5PG says:

    With an administration that can’t bring itself to even say “radical islam”, nothing’s going to improve any time soon. I have worked in N. Africa and was well treated altho’ I did get “the look” from some. No desire to ever return.

  6. Sven, DL3SG says:

    The world before 9/11 was better… i still remember the day when i saw the news in german TV on my workplace at Sony. Since then, when i was a young man of 21, the world developed a lot of conflicts, wars and terrorism. There seems to be no end unless human mankind forget’s humanity given to the terrorists. I think everybody holding the Isis-flag want’s a bullet in his head – they want to be martyrers, so they should be, so give them back what they did to innocent children, women and men… they are stupid enough to think that their allmighty god needs the help of this rats… If their god is allmighty, he doesn’t need the help of murders, rapers, criminals and terrorists. But as every terrorist regime in the past, i hope they will be destroyed very soon…

    For the future of DXpeditions i see several problems – the ham community becomes older, and somedays the OMs with enough money will be SK or too old to travel… Are you shure in 20 years there will be a new dxpedition to Heard, or Peter 1st. Isl.?, to the other subantarctical Islands, or will there be a group with enough patience to wait for a permit for Navassa or Palmyra?… I don’t want to miss any of these comming Dxpeditions – i’m not sure if i will get a second chance in my lifetime…

    Enjoy DX’ing! But don’t risk your lives 🙂 (and excuse my english…)

  7. Roger Simpson says:

    Supposedly there is going to be a DXpedition to Iran again soon. It is EP2A. It is going to be November 10 to 25 this year. At least that is what a note in Daily DX said a few weeks ago. However, I have done research all over the place and I can’t find any other shred of info about that DXpedition. So I don’t know if it is going to happen or not.

    I guess I’m the only guy in the universe that did not work the EP6T operation. I put in maximum effort trying to work EP6T — but just couldn’t complete a QSO. When there was a possibility for me to work them I believe they were listening for “Pacific Coast” only [I guess via long path?]. With a K5 call you are not Pacific Coast. Once they did listen for NA on CW and after a billion calls they came back to me with a partial — something like “K5R . . . . and K5. . . . S “. But after going back and forth with him for a whole minute he just couldn’t dig my call out. Fifteen minutes later the band went out. I found out later that the guys had local QRN due to static from golf cart battery chargers. No wonder they couldn’t read hear my signal which was probably just above the natural background noise level — assuming no manmade QRN at their QTH. I hope that if IRAN is activated again they go to a place where they don’t play golf.

    This is what makes DXing so exciting. It gives you a goal to reach for. Better than sitting around and watching Oprah.

    As to all of the other excellent N6PSE operations I worked them.

    I hope Isis does not take over Heard Island, Bouvet, Pratas, South Sandwich, or North Korea 🙂

    Seriously, ISIS is a big problem which presents a threat that is 10 orders of magnitude worse than making DXpeditions to “rare ones with ATNOs” impossible.

    73 Roger K5RKS Oklahoma City

  8. k9zw says:

    Reblogged this on With Varying Frequency – Amateur Radio Ponderings and commented:
    Why we won’t see many rare DX activated – the ISIS Threat to Amateur Radio!

    I would never expect fellow hobbyists to endanger themselves in ISIS controlled DX entities.

    Simply not worth it.

    For my 2-cents I think we should have a parallel t the DXCC Program that excludes DX Entities currently considered too dangerous.

    There is no QSO and QSL worth paying for with blood.


    Steve K9ZW

    • Michael Nörtemann says:

      It’s always a little bit dangerous to operate from so called third world countries…I still remember 8 or 8 policemen knocking on my hotel room when I operated my 5H3MN call….and thanks got after looking to my licence everything went ok. Later I had a conversation with the hotel manager and they thought I am planning an attack on a US embassy (it happened just weeks ago in Nairobi and they believed I am a foreign spy or whatever).
      I remember to be called to the local police in Bamako capital of Mali right after erecting my wires for my TZ/DF8AN trip….and even with the licence they wanted that I stay overnight at jail until they proof the licence….I remember my trip to Ivory coast when I operated TU2/DF8AN and they told me after the first night not to go out at the hotel at night but I had to go because I switched the coaxial cable to the low band antenna, hi
      And my this year’s trip to Spratly 9M0S was also into a islamic country and years ago another german expedition was shot and killed some of the DXers… as a result I say, it’s always a little bit dangerous to go to a seldom DX country in some parts of the world….but if the so called islamic state will create a terretory and gets some kind of self governance like S0…..I think someone will activate it (I would do, but only if it is a first ever activation hi 😉
      73 see you in my log
      Mike DF8AN
      (activated more than 150 DXCC countries the last 39 years)

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