US issues global alert over 'al-Qaeda threat'

Warning comes a day after the US said it would close 22 embassies and consulates on Sunday.

Last Modified: 03 Aug 2013 17:37
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The United States has issued a global travel alert to warn its citizens of potential "terrorist attacks", particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, a day after it said 22 embassies and consulates would close on Sunday over security fears.

Britain also announced on Friday that it would close its embassy in Yemen for two days - Sunday and Monday. Several embassy staff have been withdrawn from the capital, Sanaa, the foreign office in London said. 

A US official told the AFP news agency on Friday that President Barack Obama had ordered "all appropriate steps" to combat a threat that officials said comes from the al-Qaeda armed group.

In a statement released on Friday, the US administration said it had information that al-Qaeda and its affiliates may redouble efforts to carry out attacks in the period between now and the end of August.

"Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests", the US statement read. 

"US citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services."

A spokesman for Britain's foreign office said it was "particularly concerned about the security situation in
the final days of Ramadan and into Eid".

The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan ends next week with the feast of Eid al-Fitr.

The 22 US embassies and consulates to be closed on Sunday were listed on the state department website and are chiefly those in the Muslim world. Closures include Baghdad, Cairo, Sanaa, Dubai and Tripoli. 

'Abundance of caution'

The US alert expires on August 31 and state department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, called it "precautionary".

"The Department of State has instructed certain US embassies and consulates to remain closed or to suspend operations on Sunday, August 4," Harf said.

The decision was taken "out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations", she said.

Harf said that the embassies would be closed specifically on Sunday, with an assessment afterwards on whether to reopen them.

The US has been especially cautious about security since an attack on its consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11 last year.

The attack killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, and led critics in Congress to accuse the state department of insufficient security.


Al Jazeera and agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
About 500,000 participated around the globe in the Peoples Climate March, and Al Jazeera spoke to some in New York.
Separatist movements in Spain, Belgium and Italy may face headwinds following Scotland's decision to stay in the UK.
A fishing trawler carrying 500 migrants across the Mediterranean was rammed by another boat, causing hundreds to drown.
Anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party - with roots in the neo-Nazi movement - recently won 12.9 percent of the vote.
Palestinian doctor who lost three daughters in previous Gaza war is fighting to bring 100 wounded kids to Canada.