The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

August 4, 2013

U.S. diplomatic posts in Muslim world will remain closed for week

WASHINGTON — U.S. diplomatic posts in 19 cities in the Muslim world will be closed at least through the end of this week, the State Department said Sunday, citing "an abundance of caution."

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the decision to keep the embassies and consulates closed is "not an indication of a new threat."

She said the continued closures are "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."

Diplomatic facilities will remain closed in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, among other countries, through Saturday, Aug. 10. The U.S. has decided to reopen some posts on Monday, including those in Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad.

The Obama administration announced Friday that the posts would be closed over the weekend and the State Department announced a global travel alert, warning that al-Qaida or its allies might target either U.S. government or private American interests.

The weekend closure of nearly two dozen U.S. diplomatic posts resulted from the gravest terrorist threat seen in years, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Sunday.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss said "the chatter" intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies led the Obama administration to shutter the embassies and consulates and issue a global travel warning to Americans.

"Chatter means conversation among terrorists about the planning that's going on — very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11," Chambliss, R-Ga., told NBC's "Meet the Press."

"This is the most serious threat that I've seen in the last several years," he said.

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC's "This Week" that the threat intercepted from "high-level people in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula" was about a "major attack."

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