U.S. officials issued a worldwide travel alert on Friday in the wake of an Al Qaeda terrorist threat that had already forced the country to close U.S. embassies in key Middle Eastern countries.
The State Department cited the reason for the actions: they have noticed an increase in communications between militants in recent days that can likely be related to the end of the Ramadan holiday later in the week.
“Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,” the statement reads.
“We continue to work closely with other nations on the threat from international terrorism, including from al-Qa’ida. Information is routinely shared between the U.S. and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats,” it says.
In the Muslim world, Sunday will be a usual work day. In other parts of the world US diplomatic offices are shut on Sunday, writes BBC.
“It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well,” a senior state department official told reporters on Thursday.
Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, confirmed the possibility of terrorist attacks, saying: “We’ve had a series of threats. In this instance, we can take a step to better protect our personnel and, out of an abundance of caution, we should.”
Thursday saw official’s reports regarding closing embassies in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Libya, Iraq and other Muslim nations on Sunday. The work of embassies will be suspended for a couple of days.
The State Department is warning the U.S. citizens when traveling conditions are unsafe, for which it issues regular alerts, reports The Los Angeles Times.
“U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling,” the department said.
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, also supported the department’s decision to warn the country and its guests of the potential threat.
“The most important thing we have to do is protect American lives,” he said, describing the threat as “not the regular chit chat” picked up from would-be militants on the Internet or elsewhere.
Ruppersberger went on, adding that the U.S. has invested greatly in research and protection system for American embassies and citizens since the Benghazi attack.
“Intelligence is probably the best defense against terrorist attacks,” he said. “Intelligence isn’t always an exact science, but you have to react and you have to prepare. So we put people on notice and we also put the other side on notice.”
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, one more Democrat on House intelligence, said he was also warned on the matter earlier this week and called the State Department’s decision to close embassies a “prudent” step.
“I hope it will be of short duration,” he said.