US issues worldwide travel alert following embassy closures over al-Qa'ida security threat

Those affected include Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates

Several US diplomatic outposts in the Middle East and beyond that would ordinarily be open on Sunday will close this week following intelligence about a possible al-Qa’ida-linked threat against American embassies.

News of the closures was followed by a State Department travel alert today, warning US citizens of potential terrorist attacks, “particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, and possibly occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.”

“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 alert said.

The closures affect embassies in countries such as Kuwait, Egypt, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates. In some countries, the closure could extend beyond Sunday, the State Department said, without specifying the number of outposts that have been asked to suspend operations. Sunday is a working day in a number of countries across the Muslim world.

The security of US outposts became an issue of national debate last year when an attack on an American mission in the restive Libyan city of Benghazi on  11 September led to the death of four American citizens, including the country’s ambassador J Christopher Stevens.

Today, a senior US Congressman disclosed that Vice President Joe Biden met with a group of lawmakers earlier this week to talk about the threat that has prompted this weekend’s closures.“

“It’s my understanding that it is [al-Qa’ida] linked ... and the threat emanates in the Middle East and in Central Asia,” Ed Royce, the chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, told CNN.

The network also quoted an unnamed senior US official as saying that intelligence agencies had picked up “more than the usual chatter” about a potential threat against US outposts.

An emergency message posted on the website of the US embassy in Kuwait City on Thursday informed visitors that “the Department of State has instructed certain US Embassies and Consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4.”

Similar messages had been posted on the websites of a number of outposts in various cities across the Middle East, including Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Tripoli in Libya, Riyadh, Baghdad and Sana’a.

“The Department has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations that indicates we should institute these precautionary steps. The Department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety,” the State Department’s spokeswoman, Marie Harf, said.

When asked about the duration of the closures on Thursday, she said: “It’s specifically August 4th. It is possible we may have additional days of closing as well.”

The attack on the Benghazi outpost last year sparked political controversy, with Republican lawmakers questioning the Obama administration’s handling of the bloody episode. The then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was eventually called to testify about the attacks before Congress. But the controversy continues to simmer. In July, a group of Republican lawmakers wrote to the new FBI director James Comey, calling for an “aggressive” investigation in to the attack. They said the probe thus far had been “unacceptable.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders