The United States issued a global travel alert Friday, citing an al-Qaida threat that also caused the State Department to close its embassies Sunday around the Muslim world.
The State Department warned American citizens of the potential for terrorism particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, with a possible attack occurring or coming from the Arabian Peninsula.
“Current information suggests that al-Qaida 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,” the statement said.
The alert asks American travelers to take extra precautions when traveling overseas and suggests they sign up for State Department alerts and register with consulates or embassies in the countries they are visiting.
The alert was posted a day after the U.S. announced it would close diplomatic facilities on Sunday because of an unspecified threat. Spokeswoman Marie Harf said the department acted out of an “abundance of caution” and that some missions may stay closed for longer than a day. Sunday is a business day in Muslim countries.
Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Friday the embassy threat was linked to al-Qaida and focused on the Middle East and Central Asia.
“We’ve had a series of threats,” Royce told reporters. “In this instance, we can take a step to better protect our personnel and, out of an abundance of caution, we should.”
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence panel, also supported the department’s decision to go public with its concerns.
“The most important thing we have to do is protect American lives,” he said, describing the threat as “not the regular chit chat” picked up from would-be militants on the Internet or elsewhere.