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Dedicated Star Wars fans have long been traveling to the famous sets to try witness some of the magic in these exotic locales. Those planning a trip to Tataouine in Tunisia, though, are being discouraged from doing so. Multiple countries, including the U.S., have issued warnings in light of recent jihadist activity linked to ISIS in and around the small town.
Luke Skywalker’s home planet of Tatooine was inspired by Tataouine. While filming did not take place directly in the town, the surrounding cliffs and dunes served as the backdrop. Even some of the scenes from The Phantom Menace featuring Anakin’s home were shot in close proximity. Now, Tataouine has become a stopover for those looking to enter Libya and join the ranks of ISIS.
In a report on The Huffington Post, this month saw the arrest of three young men allegedly heading to join ISIS and two arms caches were found in the area. Among the weaponry were rocket-propelled grenade launchers and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition. Elsewhere in the country, a terrorist attack occurred in the capitol of Tunis at the National Bardo Museum. According to AP, ISIS took credit for the attack, which was exacted by two men from Tunisia who had received their training in Libya. Twenty-three people were killed and many others were wounded.
The British government recently issued a warning from The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, urging travelers to avoid various locations in Tunisia. "All but essential travel" was discouraged. Similarly, the U.S. Embassy released a statement advising American citizens to "exercise caution when frequenting public venues that are visited by large numbers of foreigners" in light of "periodic security incidents."
According to CNN, Tunisians are doing what they can to halt these activities, citing a "1.8-mile no-go zone inside the border" and military stations positioned every few miles. There’s also a ban in effect on any Tunisian male under the age of 30 to travel to Libya without proper proof of residency and employment.
While the earlier Star Wars installments used Tunisia for their backdrops, J.J. Abrams set up his Tatooine set in Abu Dhabi. We've already seen a slew of leaked photos from the set featuring a desert shop with various alien species. In addition, the first teaser trailer revealed Daisy Ridley racing away on a speeder from an off-camera threat, while John Boyega's Finn will be on the run disguised in a Stormtrooper suit through this terrain. The cast and crew had since moved on to various other locations, including Pinewood Studios in the U.K., Skellig Michael Isla and the forest at Puzzlewood.