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U.S. Embassies Remain Closed Across Middle East, North Africa

Brianna Sacks |
August 5, 2013 | 9:53 a.m. PDT


(U.S. Embassy Cairo/Screen shot, NBC News)
(U.S. Embassy Cairo/Screen shot, NBC News)
Nearly 20 U.S. embassies across the Middle East and North Africa will remain closed through Saturday due to inside intelligence of a possible terrorist attack. The State Department calls the threat the most specific and alarming it has seen in years.

President Obama decided to extend the closure of 19 embassies, consulates and smaller diplomatic posts through Saturday August 10, according to a Department of State press release.

The decision comes “out of an abundance of caution,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a written statement Sunday.

The state department also issued a global travel alert for all American travelers on Friday, which will remain in force until the end of August.

This is the most serious threat that I've seen in the last several years," Republican Senator Saxby Chambliss said on NBC. "Chatter means conversation among terrorists about the planning that's going on - very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11."

Lawmakers from both parties who had received intelligence briefings supported security experts and administration officials in the  seriousness of the threat, which appears to emanate from a particularly dangerous and active al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen, according to the Washington Post.

Referring to the Middle East, the state department said: "Current information suggests that al-Qaeda 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."

Security forces closed roads, erected extra blast walls and increased patrols Sunday near some of the affected embassies and consulates, according to the Associated Press.

Closed Diplomatic Posts:
Posts in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa, Tripoli, Antanarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali, and Port Louis

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