Embassy Threat Came From Bugged Al Qaeda Call
The decision to shut 22 US diplomatic missions was made after details of a threat were revealed in an intercepted phone call between top al Qaeda officials.Intelligence from conversations last week between the head of al Qaeda in Pakistan, Ayman al Zawahiri,
and the head of its affiliate in Yemen, Nasser al Wuhayshi, revealed plans to carry out an attack as early as last Sunday.
The plot is thought to have been one of the most serious against American and other Western interests since the September 11, 2001, attacks, according to US intelligence officials.
One official told the New York Times: "This was significant because it was the big guys talking, and talking about very specific timing for an attack or attacks."
But the exact location or target of the attacks was not revealed in the conversations.
It comes after the US extended the closure of some of its embassies in the Middle East and Africa until August 10 over the security fears.
The State Department also announced a global travel alert, warning that al Qaeda or its allies might target either US government or private American interests.
In a statement, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "This is not an indication of a new threat stream, merely an indication of our commitment to exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees including local employees and visitors to our facilities."
It said diplomatic posts in Abu Dhabi, Amman, Cairo, Riyadh, Dhahran, Jeddah, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait, Manama, Muscat, Sanaa, Tripoli, Antanarivo, Bujumbura, Djibouti, Khartoum, Kigali, and Port Louis would be closed from Monday through to Saturday of the coming week.
Those reopening for normal operations on Monday included Dhaka, Algiers, Nouakchott, Kabul, Herat, Mazar el Sharif, Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil.
The extension came as security forces closed roads, put up extra blast walls and increased patrols on Sunday near some of the 22 diplomatic missions ordered to close.