U.S. Embassies Close Due to Al-Qaeda Threat

By:  Warren Mass
08/06/2013
       
U.S. Embassies Close Due to Al-Qaeda Threat

U.S. embassies and consulates in 19 Muslim nations will remain closed at least until the end of this week according to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki announced on August 4 that U.S. embassies and consulates in 19 Muslim nations will remain closed at least until the end of this week. Psaki stated that the decision to keep the diplomatic posts closed signifies an “abundance of caution” and is “not an indication of a new threat.”

Psaki said, in a statement quoted by AP and other news sources, that the extension of the closures is “merely an indication of our commitment to exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees, including local employees, and visitors to our facilities.” 

The Obama administration announced on August 2 that the posts would be closed over the weekend. The State Department also announced a global travel alert, and warned that al-Qaeda or its allies might target U.S. government or private American interests.

Statements issued by the White House press secretary on August 3 and 4 read:

Early this week, the President instructed his National Security team to take all appropriate steps to protect the American people in light of a potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula. Given the nature of the potential threat, throughout the week, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco has held regular meetings with relevant members of the interagency to ensure the U.S. Government is taking those appropriate steps.

A CNN report of August 3, citing several U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, identified the source of information related to the threat as “chatter” among al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that had been detected for weeks but had increased in the days preceding the heightened security alerts. Yemeni officials also provided a warning to the United States that contributed to the decision to close embassies in the region. While no exact target was ever mentioned, the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, was regarded as particularly vulnerable.

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Photo of U.S. Embassy in Manama, Bahrain: AP Images

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