Sunday, August 4, 2013

US Diplomatic Posts Shuttered Throughout Middle East as Lawmakers Cite 'Specific', 'Serious' Threat in Region.

In light of a number of what lawmakers called credible and serious threats, the State Department announced that they were keeping some of their embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa closed through Saturday. The State Department's closing of the diplomatic missions coincides with the end of the muslim holy month of Ramadan and a series of high-profile jailbreaks last week in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Pakistan where Taliban and Al Qaeda inmates were being held.
The State Department has announced that it will keep several embassies in the Middle East and Africa closed throughout the week “out of an abundance of caution” in the wake of terror threats that shut them down.

Posts in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa, Tripoli, Antanarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali and Port Louis have been instructed to close for normal operations from Monday through Saturday, department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The State Department also said some of those embassies were already going to be closed in accordance with local customs marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Those authorized to reopen Monday are in Dhaka, Algiers, Nouakchott, Kabul, Herat, Mazar el Sharif, Baghdad, Basrah and Erbil.

Capitol Hill lawmakers, including top-ranking members of intelligence committees, on Sunday described the terror threat that closed 22 U.S. embassies and consulates across the Muslim region as the most serious one since before the 9/11 attacks and related to specific act or plot.

The sources said the chatter included Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri demanding that key leaders of the terror network in the Arabian Peninsula step up their activities in the wake of recent killings of top terrorists.

A Mideast diplomat said al-Zawahiri’s “pressuring” of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to launch new terrorist attacks on American and other Western targets is “unprecedented.”

The sources also said the U.S. outpost closings and the travel alert were prompted in part by a series of recent Al Qaeda-led prison breaks that have freed hundreds of operatives over the last month, including one this weekend in Aleppo, Syria. Other recent breaks have been orchestrated in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan and Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan.

Canada has also shut down their diplomatic mission in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka amid growing unrest in that nation while the UK, France and Germany closed down their respective embassies in Yemen.

On Saturday, a car bomb detonated outside of the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The explosion killed nine, including children from a nearby mosque. A spokesman for India's Foreign Ministry said that no Indian officials were harmed in the attack.

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