It already has strongholds in Iraq, Syria, and more recently Libya, but now ISIS has taken over the inspiration for the home of Anakin and Luke Skywalker. According to a report by CNN, ISIS is using Tataouine, which inspired Star Wars ' Planet Tatooine, as a strategic route and storage area. The Tunisian town and its surrounding areas, where George Lucas shot many iconic scenes of the Skywalkers' desert planet, have long been a tourist attraction for die-hard fans of the sci-fi franchise. However, now that it's been claimed by the terror group, Star Wars fans should stay clear of the region and maybe consider another film location instead.
After last week's shooting and hostage situation at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, which ISIS has claimed responsibility for, two caches of weapons have been found in the Tataouine area this month. One of them included rocket-propelled grenade launchers and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition. The location of this discovery fits with ISIS's continuous plans for expansion. Lying 60 miles west of the Libyan border, Tataouine has become a strategic route and stopover for militants traveling to and from Libya.
According to Star Wars' official website, though Lucas never actually filmed in Tataouine, choosing surrounding areas instead, the town clearly inspired the name of one of the series' most recognized planets. Every year, Star Wars fans flock to Tunisia to visit the various film locations, including Tatooine's namesake, and StarWars.com even provides very detailed directions and suggested tour agendas for visiting the fictional planet.
Planet Tatooine is known for its austere and sandy terrains, which are dotted with its iconic desert igloos. Luke Skywalker was raised in one of these, referred to in the film as the Lars Homestead because it belonged to Owen and Beru Lars. While it's easy to see how hardcore fans would want to see the ethereal lands that inspired the famous Tatooine, now is definitely not a good time.
In light of the Bardo attack, the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia issued a statement advising against border areas, and the U.K. government provided a map detailing areas to avoid, particularly the border area between Tunisia and Libya. If you were planning an epic Star Wars-themed vacation to visit real-life locations used in the films, you still have plenty of options.
Death Valley, California
This U.S. desert also provided the backdrop to Tatooine, so you can go there and still say you visited the planet.
Redwood National And State Parks, California
California's redwood forests provided the location for the forest moon of Endor, where Ewoks called home. Two of the forests used in the movie, Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park, are open to the public.
How about instead of Planet Tatooine, you visit Planet Hoth instead? You can imagine yourself riding a Tauntaun across the planet's beautiful icy terrain. The real-life mountain village of Finse, where scenes of Hoth were filmed, is just as beautiful.
A worthy place to visit for anyone, not only Star Wars fans, Tikal is an ancient Mayan city containing some of its most breathtaking ruins, most notably the giant pyramids. The site was used to represent Yavin 4, a habitable moon in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Lake Como, Italy
Overlooking Lake Como, Villa del Balbianello was used as the location for the Lake Retreat, where Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker wed in Attack of the Clones. Why should fans visit there over Tataouine? Hmm ... potentially running into ISIS militants or potentially running into George Clooney — I think this one is a no-brainer.
Images: Wikipedia Commons, Getty Images (5), Anders Lanzen/Flickr